Summer of continuous learning awaits professors

Gerald Butters, Professor of History (left) and Mark Plummer, Associate Professor of Music

Gerald Butters, Professor of History (left) and Mark Plummer, Associate Professor of Music

Two Aurora University professors will be taking advantage of a unique opportunity this summer to enhance undergraduate teaching and learning about Asian cultures and societies. Gerald Butters, Professor of History, and Mark Plummer, Associate Professor of Music, have received joint fellowships to participate in the Asian Studies Development Program: Infusing Chinese and Japanese Religion, Art and Politics into the Undergraduate Curriculum. The knowledge they gain through this program will be incorporated into their teaching of the Trajectories of Human History General Education course, giving it a more multi-cultural focus.

This is the second year that AU faculty have been selected to participate in the institute, which takes place in Hawaii. Last summer, Mark Soderstrom, Assistant Professor of History, attended. The professors see value in participating in such a workshop as it allows them to focus on revising their teaching and to learn from peers seeking to do the same.

“Staying current in one’s discipline and searching out new perspectives that we can incorporate into our teaching is vital,” said Plummer. “Inclusion in this program is a great opportunity. We are incredibly fortunate to be chosen.”

Plummer and Butters anticipate learning more about how the topics of agriculture, globalization and democratization are impacting China and Japan. The professors look forward to how the workshop will enhance their understanding of Asian cultures and, more importantly, how it will broaden their ability to add these perspectives to their teaching.

During the three-week program, Plummer and Butters will have the opportunity to interact with leading Asian studies experts in an intensive program of lectures, discussions, film screenings, site visits and cultural events. The program will include thematic overviews of Chinese and Japanese history; sessions on the religious traditions of Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, Shinto and Islam; and both China- and Japan-focused talks on pre-modern art traditions in modern and contemporary China and Japan.