East Asian Studies at IU
Keeping Students Engaged: Educating about Asia
Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures
Mike Robinson has won awards, grants, and residencies for his scholarship, but his work since joining IU has been defined by a focus on reaching out to students beyond his home department. He is the lead instructor of an EASC-sponsored graduate seminar on East Asian Studies Scholarship that uses video conferencing to bring University of Illinois students together with IU students and is a frequent lecturer at EASC’s Teaching East Asian Literature in the High School workshop for high school teachers. In addition to numerous articles, Robinson has published two books and co-edited a third on the formation of modern Korea. His most recent book, Korea’s Twentieth-Century Odyssey: A Short History, provides a concise but thorough introduction to his subject and was partly shaped by his determination to meet students’ needs. “Students will always be students,” he says, “but their habits of learning do change. How we reach, engage, and inspire students must change along with them.”
Robinson puts his energy not only into educating people about Asia, but into taking them there as well. He has served as the faculty expert on EASC’s National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA) study tours to Japan and Korea, helping middle and high school teachers understand how historical and present-day Japan and Korean relate to contemporary American culture and classrooms. Robinson has also led the EASC-sponsored Korean Business and Culture course and study tour to Seoul. For some students, the trip was the first time they had been on a plane and the first time they had traveled outside the United States.
Robinson’s own research has moved from an interest in political texts and ideologies to a study of larger connections. He hopes to help students make a similar connection between ideology and global impact by showing them their place in the cultural web. “By unscrambling the mixture of culture within the familiar objects around us, we learn much about Asia,” he says, “but we learn even more about ourselves and how the transnational flow affects our daily life.”