Archive for Saturday, August 15, 1992


August 15, 1992


While changes in the European political landscape have somewhat strained Kansas University's relations with Yugoslavia, they have opened up new opportunities with Ukraine, says George Woodyard, KU's dean of international studies and programs.

Woodyard said the breakup of the Soviet Union has allowed KU to develop a new relationship with Ivan Franko University in L'viv, Ukraine.

"Starting this fall, we will have a new program to focus on Ukrainian studies," Woodyard said. "We'll be practically the only university in the country that has a graduate program in that area."

Woodyard said it made sense to establish ties with Ukraine because the former Soviet republic is contiguous with Poland and Russia, two areas in which KU specializes. In addition, he said, "It turns out that we have an unusual configuration of expertise here in Ukrainian studies."

Woodyard said KU already has four faculty members who have some level of expertise on Ukraine, and now the university has hired three new faculty members with expertise in the economics, history, language and literature of Ukraine.

WOODYARD SAID students taking the Ukraine concentration through KU's Russian and East European Studies program will spend part of next summer studying in Ukraine. And through another arrangement with the American Council of Teachers of Russian, Ukrainian students might visit KU during this school year.

Woodyard said that, unfortunately, the intense fighting among the former Yugoslavian republics has greatly diminished the scope of KU's program in that area. However, the situation will provide some lively discussions for "Ethnicity and Nationalism," a KU faculty seminar series that international studies and programs will coordinate in the spring.

"Now that communism has collapsed, you see what's going on in Europe. Everything is breaking into the smallest common denominator, and that's what's going on in Yugoslavia," Woodyard said.

He said the faculty seminar will look at "how you deal with minority rights within a democratic society."

"MINORITY RIGHTS within a totalitarian structure are not much of a problem. You just suppress everybody," Woodyard said. "But if you've got a democratic regime that's trying to operate, and you've got minority voices that are trying to be heard, you deal with that and factor it in.

"These people are having great problems because all of a sudden, after 70 years of totalitarianism, you pull the lid off, and you don't have constitutions to deal with this. You don't have local governments."

In another part of the globe, KU's cooperative efforts with Japan continue to flourish.

In May and June, a group of KU and area public school educators spent five weeks in Japan taking a comprehensive look at the Japanese educational system. The program was sponsored by international studies and programs and KU's School of Education.

"Those people are back and glowing from their experiences. It was very productive," Woodyard said. "We're looking now at possibilities of follow-up and some collaborative research projects that could come out of that. It's another dimension of our relationship with Kanagawa University."

In an exchange that has gone on for two years now, Kanagawa University students have visited KU in the spring, and KU students have visited Kanagawa University in the summer.

"THE LEVEL of involvement between the universities is just growing by leaps and bounds," Woodyard said, adding that a KU business professor will visit Japan this fall on the heels of a Kanagawa University business professor's visit to KU this last spring.

In other East Asian area endeavors, KU this fall will continue using a grant from the Korean Research Foundation to focus on Korean language and history. With a grant from the U.S. Information Agency, KU this fall will begin a three-year faculty exchange program with Nankai University in Tianjin, China. And Woodyard hopes to see KU receive a grant to study Japanese and U.S. business ethics.

"The way that the Americans and Japanese do business is fundamentally different, and that creates all kinds of conflicts," Woodyard said. "We think that it would be useful and productive to study those issues in depth."

Woodyard said one role of international studies and programs is to help faculty internationalize the curriculum.

One example of that effort is in KU's Department of Spanish and Portuguese, where a special exchange program with Spain is being worked out so that Spanish majors can be required to spend a semester in a Spanish-speaking country. Woodyard said the new program should be in place by 1993-94.

Some Spanish-speaking students will have a chance this year to improve their fluency in an exchange with Paraguay. Although Kansas and Paraguay have been sister states for nearly 25 years, there have been more Paraguayan students coming here than KU students going there, Woodyard said.

KU'S EXCHANGE program with the University of Costa Rica will celebrate its 35th birthday in February, and some special events are being planned to mark the anniversary. Woodyard said he hopes a contingent from Costa Rica will be able to visit KU for the annual renewal of the program.

Woodyard said Costa Rica could be the first focal point for a "country-specific program" to be patterned after a special KU program on Poland held in 1990.

That Polish Month featured a series of lectures and films as well as a visit to KU by the Warsaw Symphony and a Nobel Prize-winning Polish author. Woodyard said the program was such a success that international studies and programs would like to plan such country-specific months on a systematic basis, perhaps once or twice a year.

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