Area studies foster understanding between people across geographic, cultural, and linguistic boundaries, working toward a world in which difference is respected and valued. The EALC department thus views diversity as a core component of its academic mission. In our teaching, research, and academic service, we strive to incorporate a diversity of perspectives, including differences in educational background, gender identity, national origin, native language, racial and ethnic identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, and other variables of human identity. We work to ensure that representatives of all of these identities and others are equally at home in our classes and our workplace. This is a core value of ours, but also of HLS and IU in general.
EALC also recognizes epistemological difference as a crucial component of diversity; the profile of the faculty, comprising specialists in many different disciplines, epitomizes this commitment. Diversity of outlook is an intrinsic quality of cross-cultural communication, and exposure to different viewpoints in a safe and cordial environment is one of the greatest benefits that our department brings to the university community. An attitude of collegiality and mutual respect are essential to an inclusive environment. We therefore insist that these principles should govern all classes and departmental activities.
Diversity and equity go hand in hand. An environment in which different voices are present but not heard is neither functionally diverse nor inclusive. The department is thus deeply committed to ensuring that all members of our community have an equal voice in departmental affairs. In our administrative activities, we work to ensure that faculty of different ranks and specialties can make an impact on departmental practices and that academic interests and disciplinary approaches do not become grounds for inequity in working conditions, within the administrative constraints of the school and the university. In our classes, we take care that differences in experience, viewpoint, or personal identity do not prevent students from receiving the same opportunities for learning, enrichment, and participation. The department also recognizes that diverse voices help reveal inequities that may otherwise go unnoticed, such that it cannot attain its goals of equity and inclusion without an ongoing, active commitment to fostering diversity among its faculty and students alike.
Area studies is also an exercise in specificity, and the diversity concerns facing a department with a specific regional focus may differ from those facing the university community as a whole. EALC prides itself on the diversity of national origin among its faculty and graduate students; we remain committed to ensure that our departmental community maintains this strength. Like all global regions, the East Asian region has its own historically embedded issues relating to diversity. In our academic activities, we seek to move beyond the simple framework of China, Korea, and Japan and to represent the full range of complex identities that make up the East Asian populace. We commit to study of the culture, history, and languages of the many minorities that call East Asia home, as well as the social and political issues that confront East Asian indigenous populations.
EALC is concerned about the under-representation of people of color, outside those of East Asian descent, in the US academic community of East Asia scholars. We recognize as well that first-generation college students often face obstacles arising from gaps in knowledge about academic life. EALC aims to improve these field-wide issues. Changing this will require interventions at every level of academia, from grade school through tenured faculty. The department, through its long-standing relationship with the East Asian Studies Center, is well situated to make a difference in this regard through secondary-school outreach programs, recruitment activities at schools and universities serving historically under-represented minorities, and other measures. We have begun to consider as well how the departmental curriculum and formalized mentorship programs could better prepare students from historically under-represented backgrounds for graduation, careers, and graduate study. We stand ready to pursue these goals both independently and as part of the mission of HLS and its area studies centers.