NEW PALTZ — The Association of American Colleges and Universities has selected the State University of New York at New Paltz to participate in a Faculty and Curriculum Development Program focusing on Japan. New Paltz is one of eight universities selected for the AAC&U project from a total of 43 applicants nationwide.

“The purpose of the program is to strengthen Asian studies by infusing information about Japan throughout college and university curriculums,” said Gerald Benjamin, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and director of the project at New Paltz. “Because Japan is a major economic force in the world, and promises to be even more important economically and politically in the coming century, an understanding of Japanese society and culture is essential for our students.”

Faculty members participating in the year-long program are professors Mary Roehm, Andrew Sharma, Michael Whelan, and, as an alternate, Brian Schmidt.

Mary Roehm, a professor of art and head of the ceramics program in the School of Performing Arts at New Paltz, has had a long-time interest in Japanese ceramics — a high art in Japan. The AAC&U seminar experience will further integrate Japanese aesthetics and philosophy into her graduate and undergraduate teaching seminars.

Andrew Sharma, assistant professor of Communication and Media with interests in television, radio and film production, media and culture, and international communication, developed a new course in international communication at Ball State University before coming to New Paltz. He also offered a summer program in media analysis for Korean students from Kyung Hee University. Sharma will integrate materials about Japan into his courses in media and culture and international communication.

Michael Whelan is associate professor of social studies education and

coordinator of secondary social studies programs at New Paltz. He is responsible for training teachers to teach the New York state social studies curriculum which has a significant component on East Asia, including Japan. Whelan seeks to strengthen the curriculum in the area of Japanese studies.

Alternate Brian Schmidt is assistant professor of political science with interests in international security and international organization. This seminar would provide him with material on Japan to integrate into his courses on American Foreign Policy, International Relations and International Security.

Upon completion of the year-long program, participants will present a series of seminars to the SUNY New Paltz faculty focusing on the materials they have developed on Japan and the various approaches they will use to incorporate these materials into their courses. Desiring to reach beyond the campus, they will present a session on Japanese studies at the New York Conference on Asian Studies to be held on October 16-17 at the SUNY New Paltz campus. Additionally, using interactive television facilities on the New Paltz campus and at the Ulster County Board of Cooperative Educational Services, faculty will make presentations to high school teachers in the Hudson Valley region, explaining how to incorporate materials on Japan into their social studies classes.

Emphasis on the international dimensions of undergraduate education is not new at SUNY New Paltz. The core curriculum requires each undergraduate to complete a four-credit course in “The Modern World”; to study a foreign language; and to take courses on Western and non-Western cultures and civilizations. The College offers a broad range of international programs including major and minor degrees in Latin American Studies and Asian Studies, study missions to Europe and the Middle East, and a United Nations study course. The quality of foreign language instruction at New Paltz — including offerings in Japanese — is nationally and internationally acknowledged.