Professional Development

Faculty are continually learning and developing as both producers of knowledge and as teachers, and institutions vary as to how they recognize, compensate, and support the kinds of learning their faculty do.

Some schools may devote few resources to instructors’ professional development. Your school may have funds for faculty to travel to a training or workshop, or it may invite experts to campus to facilitate professional development sessions. Your school also may recognize professional development within their institutional assessment categories of teaching or research. Take advantage of these opportunities where available, and make sure your fellow program faculty are aware of them. It may only be a matter of requesting funds or space to begin professional development in your Asian studies program.

Learning or Discovering What to Teach

Especially at smaller liberal arts colleges, faculty may be drawn upon or interested in creating courses with content beyond their research specialties. A period of learning may be required to get a new course off the ground, and this work differs from gathering or discovering data for research, even when one’s research informs their teaching. The following sites may be useful for non-specialists considering offering a new class with Asian content.


American Institute of Indian Studies – American Institute of Indian Studies

American Institute of Indian Studies

American Institute for Indonesian Studies 

Promoting Scholarship and Collaboration Between Indonesia and the United States

American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies

AISLS’ central objectives are to promote US research and teaching on Sri Lanka and to strengthen links between US and Sri Lankan scholars and institutions. Its main focus is on the humanities, social sciences, and related fields.

Council of American Overseas Research Centers

CAORC creates opportunities to bring people together to facilitate change, growth and understanding.

East-West Center 

The East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. 

Institute for South Asia Studies at UCBerkeley

Japan Foundation

Fulbright Scholars Program

National Endowment for the Humanities

Learning or Discovering How to Teach

There are many resources for developing teaching skills. One site dedicated to supporting this work in Asian Studies is the Resources for Teaching About East Asia site supported by The Ohio State University’s East Asian Studies Center. In addition to the online materials they provide, the Center also holds one-day content workshops, multi-day seminars, and long-term professional development programs for K-16 educators that are open to ASIANetwork members. 

Further individual lesson plans and material for creating course content can also be found in the Digital Resources section of this site.

Building Supportive Teaching and Research Communities

The following sites may be useful especially for program directors in planning professional development opportunities to inspire fellow faculty, engage them cooperatively, and to generate ideas about curriculum, events, and program building. As you envision this type of professional development, aim for experiences that provide support for continuing authentic growth that feels relevant to both your faculty and your program. Recent studies point directors toward professional development that is neutral and non-evaluative to best provide a safe space in which to take risks and try new approaches, inductively generated to respond to circumstances, and iterative between members to best draw on the rich resources of wisdom and experience already available within your program.

Development can consist of single activities focusing on a particular aspect of your curriculum (like language learning) or course content (like a current event or historical phenomenon), or which focus on teaching students a single skill foundational to Asian studies at your institution (such as information literacy, writing, archival use, or ethnographic research). Recent studies recommend, creating a series of continuing or scaffolded practices over time. These help contributing faculty feel invested in the mission of the program, and help to establish commitments whose stability will positively affect students’ long-term learning and engagement, as well as visibility within the institution.

Suggesting Professional Development Reading:

Haras, Catherine, Steven C. Taylor, Mary Deane Sorcinelli, and Linda von Hoene, eds. 2017. Institutional Commitment to Teaching Excellence: Assessing the Impacts and Outcomes of Faculty Development. Washington, DC: American Council on Education. []

Haras, Catherine. “Faculty Development as an Authentic Professional Practice” (January 17, 2018) Higher Ed Today. Url: []

Professional and Organizational Development Network

Collaborative Online International Learning Center at SUNY-Albany

Recruiting Foreign Language Teachers

Most Asian Studies programs offer or require Asian language training.  One of the major challenges in starting a new language is the upfront cost, which often meets resistance from administrators. There are, however, many creative approaches to bringing language teachers to your college. Below are a number of examples that schools have used to kickstart, or even sustain, their language programs.

Institutional Agreements with Colleges in Asia

Developing agreements with institutions in Asia can provide students with inexpensive means of studying abroad and help to internationalize your own campus. Most agreements with institutions in Asia focus on the short-term exchange of students, typically for a year, but some also include faculty exchange and collaborative research opportunities. Finding the right partner – one that shares your curricular approach and is committed to similar objectives – is crucial to making a successful agreement, so institutions should research and visit several potential partners before jumping into the writing of agreements.

Some potential stumbling blocks to be aware of include differences in academic calendars, more specialized curricula in Asian schools, and very different tuition charges in the U.S. and Asia. If exchange of professors and research collaboration are part of the agreement, then institutions will want to clarify housing arrangements and intellectual property rights over any research findings. Attention to those details in discussions with potential partners will help U.S. institutions to write successful agreements.

When drafting the agreement, consult with your institution’s legal advisor to make sure the interests of both the institution and the students are protected.