How did the Southeast Asian Certificate Program start?
The Center for International Studies became interested in Southeast Asia because of the great economic, cultural, and geopolitical significance of the region. In addition, no other university in Texas or indeed anywhere south of the Ohio River was focusing on this incredibly strategic region of the world. Most immediately, our attention was drawn to Southeast Asia because of a generous endowment that alumnus Kenneth Wilson and his wife, Verena, gave to the University and the Center for International Studies in 2007 to support the Kenneth and Verena Endowment for Faculty/Student Exchanges in Asian Studies with a particular focus on southeast Asia. The Southeast Asian Undergraduate Certificate also became possible with a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop this Certificate in 2009. Since then, we have sent students and faculty to the region and received faculty from Cambodia here at Texas State. We have also placed one graduate, Ms. Tanya Rogers, on the Southeast Asian Desk of the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer.
With the assistance of Dr. Jim Collins, the Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Northern Illinois University, seven new classes with a Southeast Asian focus were developed. We have also signed MOUs with three Southeast Asian universities and plan on expanding our exchange programs and MOUs with other universities in different Southeast Asian countries.
About the Southeast Asian Certificate at Texas State:
Southeast Asia is an incredibly important region of the world, and the curricula of universities in the United States, including that of Texas State University-San Marcos (Texas State), need to include it as a subject of study and research if they hope to educate students for global leadership roles in the future. Southeast Asia has over 600 million people, presides over some of the most critical shipping lanes in the world, has more United States investments than China, is home to the world’s third largest democracy (Indonesia), and includes the ASEAN Bloc of countries. The ASEAN Bloc unites Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar into a dynamic trading and political group that is one of the fastest growing trade and strategic partners of the United States.
Given the importance of Southeast Asia to the U.S. and Texas, students and graduates of Texas State should have an opportunity to gain knowledge about Southeast Asia in a systematic way. This new Certificate aims to offer a body of classes to all students of Texas State, who have an interest in Southeast Asia, regardless of major. Having Texas State offer a Certificate in Southeast Asian Studies will not duplicate the efforts of other universities in Texas because no university in Texas offers either a major or a minor in Southeast Asian Studies.
It is anticipated that there will be a strong demand for this Certificate from Texas State students and that the possession of the Certificate will enhance significantly the job prospects of graduates in the export/ import business, state government, local government, chambers of commerce, national security agencies, national news media, travel and tourism, and the entertainment industry. The Certificate will also enhance the ability of Texas State, which has made an effort to retain minority students, to attract and retain minority students with an Asian ancestry.