Lectures bring Japanese culture to PSU Campus

One of the newer offices on campus is the Center for Japanese Studies. The center sponsors many programs that foster connections between PSU and the community. These include Japanese-American studies, a mentoring and internship program, residencies and symposia and other cultural programs.

Dr. Ken Ruoff, director of the center and history professor, began working at PSU a few years ago.

He said he saw the need for more Japanese energy on the PSU campus, and pushed for the creation of the Center.

The main focus of energy and funding of the center go toward an annual lecture series. Dr. Patricia Wetzel, professor of Japanese and director of the Institute for Asian Studies, said, “The keystone of the center is a three-lecture series.” Last year, the speakers were Dr. Peter Duus, Dr. H.Paul Varley and Dr. Donald Keene, all internationally known for their studies of Japan.

This year, the first lecture will be held on Oct. 25. The speaker will be Dr. Carol Gluck. Wetzel described Gluck as the foremost Japanese historian in America today. Her topic will be Past Obsessions: War and Memory in the Twentieth Century.
The lecture will go from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in 338 Smith Memorial Center.

The second lecture is scheduled for February. The topic will be the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II. This year will mark the 60th anniversary of the executive order that led to Japanese internment.

A third lecture is scheduled for the spring.

Ruoff has diligently sought out the funding for the lectures and other programs of the center. He has raised over $100,000 annually so far (last year and this year coming). “The consulate helps a lot financially,” Wetzel said.

Wetzel explains the role of the Institute for Asian Studies as an umbrella for International Studies – Asia focus, as well as all other Asian initiatives on campus. The institute is hosting its own lecture on Nov. 8. The speaker will be William Wong, and he will be part of the diversity lecture series. As part of the institute “umbrella” Wetzel said that the new center lets the community know what kind of serious resources are available of this nature at PSU. She said that it aids in the “internationalization” that is one of President Bernstine’s goals for the university.

While the center only has one “official” office hour, Monday from 10 to 11 a.m., two graduate research assistants, Mary Parker and Maiko Kaneko, are there at other times as well. For information regarding the center, call 503-725-7592.