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Concept Module Exercise

Concept Module Exercise

Useful for entry-level Asian Studies courses. I have also used a variation on this exercise for students in an abroad course that visited China and Japan.

A final step in this project can be to have students submit their projects for inclusion in the IDEAS database.

The goal of this project is for you to work on following one concept or theme through all of Asia.  You will be given a country to compare with the countries we have studied in class, and you will be placed within a group all of whom are working on the same country.  You will have to decide amongst yourselves who is going to pursue which topic within the group. For example, our group is doing India and I'm going to do contemporary art, Bert is going to do traditional music, Ernie is looking at historical people, Miss Piggy is going to do regional types of food, and Kermit is going to look at forms of government.

The purpose of the project is to help you learn to use a wide variety of very basic research tools that should help you eventually become more familiar with resources available for studying Asia. It should also educate you and your classmates about certain aspects of a country that we will not be discussing in class.


Step One

You will be sign up for a country in Asia that we are not focusing on this term. If your country is already "taken", please take your second choice, or perhaps email the class to see if someone will switch with you.

Choose one concept that you are interested in learning more about.  There is considerable latitude on topics. You are allowed to choose a topic that we have already encountered within our readings, but please do not just copy themes we area covering in class because you think they will be 'easier'.  In fact, I will grade such topics more rigorously! I encourage you to do some basic research to make sure you have some idea as to whether or not your topic is 'do-able'.  You will then write up a brief rationale as to what has prompted your choice, and what you envision you will find along the way.

Step Two

Once you have chosen a concept to look for and I have approved of it, you then move on to documenting that concept. You will be documenting your progress via the Moodle journal, and I will be asking you to look at specific tools along the way. You will begin with encyclopedias and handbooks, then books related to country, topic, and time period, then articles that are more specifically focused and lastly image databases for presentation purposes, including the IDEAS Asian Studies image database at http://ideasasia.omeka.net

Step Three

I have put together a group of faculty and students who have been to the countries you will be working on, and who have graciously agreed to meet with groups of students regarding these countries.  These people should be able to give you an educated opinion about your topic, and may also be able to point you toward resources you haven't found yet.  Some of them may be able to provide you with images to support your project as well.  Your group should find a time when it can meet with your country contact person to discuss your topics. This can probably be best done via email.

Step Four

The next step in the project is for you to assess what the information you have found tells you about your particular concept as it appears across Asia, comparing your country with others you have encountered in the course.  You will prepare a written report of your findings.  The report will be no more than five pages double-spaced comparing and contrasting the key elements of your concept based on your findings.  Be sure to footnote/ cite your sources appropriately! You should also reflect upon how your final assessment compares to your original rationale for choosing a particular concept.

Step Five

During the final weeks of the course, the groups will present their findings to the class as a whole in brief presentations. At this time, you will need to have collected images and organized them in a format such as Powerpoint. Final timelines for this will be announced as we reach the end of the term. The quality of your final presentation will be a factor in your final grade.

Karil Kucera
Associate Professor of Asian Visual Culture
St Olaf College