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.
Every two years, a group of students from the University of Puget Sound travels to Asia for a semester of rigorous academic work and experiential learning. Visiting several Asian nations, the group engages with different systems of culture, economics, politics, religion, and philosophy. At the conclusion of the semester of group travel and study, PacRim students are provided with university support to remain in Asia during the summer and pursue experiential learning opportunities such as research, internships, volunteer work, or further study in a language. Academic work, Asian classrooms, and experiential education in Asian cultural contexts extend the limits of the conventional curriculum.
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 make connections between work completed on campus prior to departure with their academic coursework in Asia, promoting a deep understanding of relationships between diverse fields of inquiry. The Asian Studies 495 independent research project course, for which students collect data throughout their time 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.