Far Eastern Studies

As "strategic redeployments" push the Far East to the center of the world struggle, it is unfortunate that the universities in this country have not responded with corresponding shifts in research activity. Basic research in Chinese and Japanese civilization has lagged so far behind the revolutionary changes in this area that the difficulties confronting American foreign policy are not surprising. Although Harvard has been a leader in focusing interest on the Far East, the present weakness in the Department of History, Government, and Economics should be quickly remedied.

The recent Faculty Report of the Behavioral Sciences notes this deficiency by saying that ". . . a considerable addition to the staff will be required . . ." Experts in the Far Eastern field state that the absolute minimum addition to the faculty necessary to direct the most basic graduate research is three new permanent appointments, one in Japanese history and one each in the economics and government of both China and Japan.

Despite these gaps, however, Far Eastern studies at Harvard are strong by comparison with most universities, and the skeleton of an extensive research program does exist. Chinese history and Far Eastern languages and anthropology are already well-staffed, and the present East Asia Regional Studies program gives graduate students both an M.A. and a vestible look at the immense problems of the Far East. In addition, Harvard's physical plant is uniquely suited to pursue further research; a special library of over 250,000 volumes is available in the Yenching Institute in Boylston Hall.

To enlarge this present strength, and to correct the serious deficiency in the fields of Government, Economics, and History, the University should make three new permanent appointments. Experts with tenure are the only effective means to guide research over a long period. A possible method would be to appoint new professors within the existing formula, which limits the number of permanent chairs in each department to a fixed number. But this solution is impracticable, because some departments do not expect vacancies for five or six years. It is also unreasonable to expect departments so divert these rare vacancies from more traditional European or American fields.

The only realistic alternative to working within the present system is to look for outside financial support. In the past, the Government or foundations have supported research programs like the Russian Research Center. Such a center for the Far East is now equally important. If the University were to make long range plans for a Far Eastern Research Center, foundations would probably help finance new permanent appointments to the faculty. By appealing to an outside source to strengthen Far Eastern studies, Harvard would not only be "leading from strength," but would be leading into a vital field of research not yet fully explored.