Dr. Joshua Van Lieu
A world of opportunities
Dr. Joshua Van Lieu, Assistant Professor of History and Curriculum Director of
the Asian Studies Program, is passionate about preparing students to be citizens
of the world.
"To have an understanding of the realities of the world we live in, it is absolutely
essential to have some kind of knowledge of Asia," he says. "East Asia is one of
the centers of the global economy. Think about the manufactured goods we deal with
on a daily basis. Where do they come from? China, Korea and Japan.
"And if you think of the top three economies in the world, the number one economy
is the United States, number two is China and number three is Japan. South Korea
is one of the world's most developed economies – right now, I think it is ranked
Locally, the economy is deeply attached to South Korea, with the growing Korean
community and the arrival of Korean corporations.
"It's not just Kia – there is also Hyundai in Montgomery," he says. "Between here
and Montgomery, there are dozens of Korean multinational suppliers employing many
thousands of people from throughout the region. It is so important to build relationships
with those enterprises."
That makes the new Asian Studies Program, which begins this fall, all the more
important. Dr. Van Lieu says he believes LaGrange's curriculum is unique in the
"There aren't very many opportunities regionally to study the Korean language
or even Asian Studies in general. We have designed the new program as an interdisciplinary
minor consisting of six courses. There will be required classes in religion, history
and a yearlong sequence in either the Korean or Japanese language."
Dr. David Ahearn, Chair of Religion and Philosophy, has developed a class in East
Asian religions, and Dr. Van Lieu has an Introduction to East Asian History course
"I worked carefully with Dr. Amanda Plumlee (Chair of Modern Languages and Director
of Asian Studies Language Courses) and Dr. Ahearn to put together a proposal for
the minor. Dr. Kevin Shirley, Associate Professor of History, also was an immense
Other courses necessary to fill out the minor will be electives from such departments
as business, art, political science, religion, art history, history and modern
"You can take courses that have Asia-related content in a variety of different
disciplines, depending on student interests," he says. "For example, you could
be a business major and an Asian Studies minor and have some of your coursework
overlap. You can shape an Asian Studies minor to your particular interests."
Diana Goldwire, Director of the Career Center, has been working with area Korean
businesses to develop internships for LaGrange students.
"These companies are looking specifically at our students. They want people with
a background in Korean language, history, society and economics. On a real concrete
basis, there are opportunities for employment right here in this region. Even if
your Korean is just 'Hello,' 'How are you?' and 'Yes, I'd like another helping,'
that goes a long way to show you are willing to learn, you have an interest in
the world and a respect for other cultures."
The new minor offers more than a chance to polish students into well-rounded adults.
"It's about being a citizen of the world," Dr. Van Lieu says. "It's about preparing
our students to be active and ethical members of the global community, and that
is an exciting opportunity for us all."