Once every three years a group of students from the University of Puget Sound travels to Asia for nine months of rigorous academic work and experiential learning. Visiting eight or more Asian nations, the group engages in a vast multicultural experience that compels them to engage with different systems of culture, economics, politics, religion, and philosophy. Academic work, Asian classrooms and experiential education in Asian cultural contexts extend the limits of the conventional curriculum.
The Pacific Rim Study Abroad Program (PacRim Program) promotes the liberal educational mission of the University of Puget Sound, extending the curriculum to incorporate substantive encounters with Asian life and culture. PacRim also serves as a forum for students’ personal development through involvement in a strong community, the cultivation of tolerance and independence, and improved intercultural competence. The program is built around the following learning objectives:
- Student acquisition of intercultural competence through guided immersion throughout the PacRim experience.
- An experientially cultivated awareness and understanding of local, cultural life-ways, and regional socio-cultural, political, and economic variation.
- An ongoing, critical awareness of the influence of historic & contemporary power and wealth inequalities on peoples and regions.
- Development of deep understandings about Asian cultures and practices, as well as lasting connections with people in Asia from diverse cultural backgrounds.
The PacRim Program promotes the development of intellectual autonomy, challenging students both in the classroom and in experiential contexts throughout Asia. Students are expected to connect work done on campus prior to departure with their academic program in Asia, promoting a deep understanding of relationships between diverse fields of inquiry. The Asian Studies 370 independent research project course, for which students collect data throughout the year abroad, allows each student a chance to focus on a topic of special interest in Asian Studies and potentially their major department as well. Students are encouraged to confront ethnocentrism and pursue intercultural understandings through autonomous engagements, critical reflection, and abstraction of broader principles regarding cultural difference.