Chinese Studies Program charting 21st century course

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Date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

As China’s influence expands on the world stage, students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo are gaining valuable insight into what makes this emerging superpower tick.

The Chinese Studies Certificate is a 17-credit, multi-disciplinary program with a core focus on language. But the program also features a wide range of coursework and research opportunities to provide students with a broad understanding of China’s various dimensions, including culture, society, art, political science and history, in addition to its language.

“A comprehensive worldview is essential to preparing our students to succeed in the 21st century, where more and more aspects of everyday life demand a global perspective,” explained Dr. Jiren Feng, assistant professor, Chinese. “China is a major power, whose economy will soon become the world’s largest. So anyone who wants to understand the world’s future will want to understand China’s place in it.”

The Chinese Studies Certificate program was implemented in Fall 2011, and awarded its first certificate in May 2012. The program has primarily attracted students enrolled in Chinese language and culture courses, which one would expect. But supporters believe it should also be of interest to students from other disciplines, such as business majors, given China’s economic muscle, and the State’s role in the Pacific region.

“The State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) has established offices in mainland China and Taiwan, while numerous non-profits are being launched to facilitate this area of growth in Hawaiʻi’s economy,” said Seri Luangphinith, chair, humanities division. “That opens the door to a wide range of opportunities for business and non-business majors alike.”

She believes students pursuing careers in other fields, including journalism, government, the arts and cultural brokerage, could also benefit from a deeper understanding of China, with additional possibilities in areas such as architecture, science and medicine, where China has made significant contributions.

“China has deep historical ties to Hawaiʻi, dating back to the plantation era, and its prominence here is expected to grow over the next several years,” Luangphinith said. “So the Chinese Studies Certificate could be the key to unlocking the opportunities that this new reality makes possible.”

To learn more about the program, call (808) 932-7232 or visit For registration information, visit

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