Past Grantees

Mayumi Steinmetz

Awardee: Mayumi Steinmetz 

Institution: Shoreline Community College

Department/Discipline: Asian Studies / History

Course Title: Introduction to East Asian Civilization


This course will examine the development of East Asian Civilization in global context through cultural and political interactions among China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan across different eras, in order to understand the roots of current political tensions, and to recognize the paradox of growing cultural and economic interdependence and declining political trust and cooperation. We will begin our expedition with the indigenous cultures in the target countries, in order to understand their ethnic backgrounds and close relationships early in the emergence of East Asian Civilization. We will see how national identities were formed through territorial expansion over time.

We will walk the eastern routes of the Silk Road to witness how these indigenous cultures became intertwined with new philosophical and religious ideas that emerged from cultural and political centers in major cities. Buddhism was born out of Hindu tradition and played a major role in Asian civilization. We will examine how Buddhism was transmitted from India to China, China to Korea, and Korea to Japan. We will investigate how Buddhism influenced the development of major cultural and political centers, and how each culture added its own native beliefs to Buddhism to create uniquely Korean and Japanese cultures. We will examine how Taoism, Confucianism, Shamanism and Animism transformed the ideology of Buddhism. In the course, we will explore how political turbulence in China and Korea led to the migration to Japan and turned Japan into a Chinese-influenced society. The migration started at the time of the First Emperor’s terracotta army in Xi’an (formally Chang’an), moving to the Three Kingdoms of Korea (i.e. Koguryo, Silla and Paekche) and arriving at Nara, Japan after a few centuries. We will examine how the Imperial system was created and justified its existence throughout the centuries. We will end our journey with a look at how China, Korea and Japan responded to imperialism and the war years in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, focusing on the cities of Beijing and Shanghai in China; Pyongyang and Seoul in Korea; and Nara, Kyoto and Tokyo in Japan. We will conclude our study on a hopeful future outlook by examining shared popular culture in East Asia.