Chinese classes to come in fall
By Chris Schechter
Courses in Chinese language, culture and literature will be offered at MIT starting next fall. The full scope of courses that will be available is still unknown, due to the uncertainty of funding from at least one source.
The Institute will provide sufficient funding to support the initiative for the first three years. Meanwhile, Peter Perdue, associate professor of East Asian history, and Isabelle de Courtivron, associate professor of foreign languages, will look for external funding to continue and enlarge the program.
De Courtivron, who heads the Foreign Languages and Literatures Section (FLL) of the Department of Humanities, said that although they will "start at a modest level . . . ultimately it's a very ambitious undertaking." She explained that MIT students will be able to take at least Chinese I and II beginning next fall.
Because of its experimental nature, no full professor will be appointed to the program initially. However, a limited local search for a visiting professor to teach the courses will begin next week. The search committee responsible for this task has been created already, and will be given two months to find a professor, de Courtivron said.
Perdue was unavailable for comment.
Impetus came from
The impetus for the program came from students and faculty who saw a "sufficient intellectual community and expertise in the field of Chinese culture and language to initiate the curriculum," de Courtivron said.
The new administration was also instrumental in the making of this new program, she added.
In order to support the program without funding from MIT, de Courtivron applied for a grant from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation of Taiwan. The foundation gives grants to schools which show a strong interest and commitment to the study of China and the Chinese language. FLL will know in May if it was allotted a sufficient amount
of money to support the new program.
"The chances of having the program succeed look promising, but it's too early to say," de Courtivron said.
The Chinese program is modeled after the Japanese one, where student participation is seen as important, said Philip
S. Khoury, acting dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science. "If the number of undergraduates taking Chinese at Harvard and Wellesley is any indication of the students' interest, the Chinese program will have their full support," he said.
The dean called the Chinese initiative a "phased-in program, [in which] we will try to keep adding to the program as time goes on."