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 17th globally."

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 area.

"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 scheduled.

"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 help."

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 languages.

"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."

Friends for the Journey

LaGrange College attracts the best and the brightest from all over the world. For example, our most recent incoming class consisted of men and women from 19 states and 10 countries, and included:

  • 76 members of Beta Club or the National Honor Society
  • 71 members of service organizations
  • 51 team captains in varsity sports
  • 25 leaders involved in student government, with 11 presidents
  • Three students involved in school publications, one as editor
  • Two Eagle Scouts
  • 20 musicians in band or orchestra
  • 18 singers in choir
  • 31 entertainers in performing arts
  • 85 students in religious activities.

But you don’t have to be a star in high school to succeed at LaGrange. Here, you’re given the opportunity to discover the best in yourself and find your destiny – all in a caring and supportive environment.