Chao Center for Asian Studies
The Chao Center for Asian Studies has two main missions of teaching and research. It is home to the B.A. in Asian Studies degree program. The Chao Center brand of Asian Studies focuses on transnational, transhistoric, diasporic, and global movements of peoples and cultures of Asia. It also houses the Transnational Asia Research Initiative (TARI) where postdoctoral research fellows with diverse disciplinary expertise pursue new research projects on Asia and also work as a collaborative, think-tank-like team to explore key issues concerning transnational movements across Asia. The Center's web journal, the Journal of Transnational Asian Studies (inaugural issue: Fall 2016), acts as a vehicle to disseminate the Center's research output. In addition to these two major missions, the Chao Center also defines itself as a key player in reaching the Asian and Asian American populations in Houston and beyond, promoting community building and broader cultural understanding.
In 1988, Professor Richard Smith, George and Nancy Rupp Professor of Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University, established Rice University's Asian Studies program and Asian Studies major. During its twenty-five-year history as an undergraduate major, the Asian Studies program was supported by the enthusiastic participation of Rice faculty and also by grants from various foundations such as the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. In the mid-2000s working closely with Steven Lewis, C.V. Starr Transnational China Fellow and Professor in the Practice in Asian Studies, Smith proposed the establishment of a transnationally oriented Center for Asian Studies. The Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation's generous endowment in 2008 enabled the establishment of the Chao Center for Asian Studies at Rice University. Since its inauguration, the Center has held numerous international conferences, graduate student conferences, public lectures, film series, performing arts events, and so on. It has also successfully obtained external funding from corporations and foundations including the Henry Luce Foundation, the Jain Society of Houston, and Mitsubishi Corporation America.