Building on this recent success, two additional courses will be offered in the spring semester, said Duncan, who wants eventually to create high-quality, self-sustaining Ph.D. programs in Latin America. "We’re not trying to implant a particular U.S. view of Korea in Latin America," he explained. "We’re trying to make it possible for the people there to develop their own, well-informed understandings of Korea and Korea’s place in the world."
This vision is welcomed by Juan Felipe López, an associate professor at the Center for African and Asian Studies at El Colegio de México, and Jorge Rafael di Masi, head of the Department of Asian and Pacific Studies at La Plata.
"In Mexico, we don’t have enough experts in all areas," said López, who is the only full-time faculty member at El Colegio de México, the only institution in Latin America to offer a Korean studies program for graduate students. "The e-school is a very good opportunity for us to get first-class courses. Fortunately, with the technology that’s available, this is possible. My wish would be that more universities join so we can make an even broader community."
Di Masi, who has known Duncan for nearly a decade and worked with him on a number of projects and student exchanges, said the program marked the first time a course had been taught in English at La Plata and had united students and faculty from three countries. "This was truly historic for us," said di Masi.
If things go well, the program will expand to include more courses and more universities, said Duncan, adding that he also hopes the program will one day include Latin American instructors who will teach courses in Spanish or Portuguese and provide a platform for UCLA Korean Studies courses to be made available to other West Coast schools.