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An award-winning Pitt resource helps teachers and students understand Taiwan

  • Global
  • Teaching & Learning
  • Asian Studies Center

The University of Pittsburgh’s Asian Studies Center has been recognized for developing an interactive website that provides information about Taiwan’s rich, complex history and culture.

The Centering Taiwan in Global Asia: A K-14 Curriculum website received an honorable mention for the 2023 Franklin R. Buchanan Prize for Curricular Materials by the Association for Asian Studies.

A team at the Asian Studies Center, with support from the Republic of China’s Ministry of Education, has worked on the project for three years.

Catherine Fratto, the engagement coordinator for the Asian Studies Center, said the website comprises interactive maps outlining trade, piracy and colonization on the island along with the history of Taiwan’s indigenous populations and early settlers. Each map page also includes image badges, icons and historical timelines that allow students to engage with the physical geography of the island of Taiwan and the surrounding region. The website also includes lesson plans for these subjects.

The team is now working on the final and most complex component of the website: Taiwan’s modern history. So far, the resource has been used in workshops with high school and community college students. Fratto added that the website will continue to be used in the center’s future conferences, workshops, professional development and student engagement.

James Cook, associate director for the Asian Studies Center, said Taiwan is an important part of the global economy as tech companies on the island produce 24% of the world’s semiconductor chips, including 92% of the most advanced chips which are used in smartphones, supercomputers and planes.

“We felt it was really important that people get a better idea of the region’s history and its present role in current events,” Cook said. “A lot of Americans, unfortunately, don't have the best understanding of Asia's geography. And so, this is part of our attempt to develop a curriculum.”

The website is also part of the center’s Global Asia project, an effort to rethink and reframe how students and educators approach Asia’s history and various cultures.


— Donovan Harrell, image via Getty