The Center for Regional Studies made considerable strides over the past academic year in mentoring United States Naval Academy midshipmen through faculty facilitation of the five constituent regional forums covering Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Curricular innovation remains the cornerstone of the Center’s mission through the support of each forum’s flagship lecture series, the collaboration between faculty and midshipmen in academic events, and the increasing participation of midshipmen in CRS activities that further regional knowledge, regardless of the midshipman’s chosen major.
The five Fora hosted a total of twenty-two lectures, which were attended by over two thousand midshipmen. We were successful this past year in finding speakers who’s expertise dovetailed nicely with our course offerings, which augmented the supporting faculty’s syllabi and widened the academic horizons of our midshipmen. Over the past academic year the Fora raised the bar for midshipmen through hosting thought leaders in their given fields ranging from Ambassador Robert Ford, former U.S. Ambassador to Syria; Dean Vali Nasr, a thought leader in Middle East studies; to Dr. Edith Grossman, a world renowned translator who rendered the definitive translation of Don Quixote; and lastly Dr. Haili Kong and Dr. Victor Mair who lectured on the history of Beijing and the influence of computers on the Chinese language respectively. Besides attending the lectures, midshipmen interacted with guest speakers on a more personal level by attending meals and conversing over coffee, and providing tours of the Academy.
A growing facet of Center support has been the financing of movement orders for midshipmen to participate in academic events in Washington D.C. This spring, the Eurasia Forum sponsored midshipmen to attend the U.S. Russia Forum at the Senate Hart Building. The Forum for Latin American Studies furthered the academic careers of midshipmen through CRS funded travel to the Middle Atlantic Conference on Latin American Studies where six midshipmen presented peer-reviewed papers on two separate panels. The Bilden Asia-Pacific Forum constituent faculty members provided mentorship by hosting midshipmen-led panels that reflected on lessons learned from their academic research in China, Japan and Southeast Asia.
Academic year 2015/2016 promises even further growth for the Center for Regional Studies. We have tentatively scheduled speaking engagements for Nobel Laureate for Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Shirin Ebadi. In Fall 2015, we will host five Ambassadors who will cover a range of regional topics, in addition to reflecting upon the role of diplomacy in the careers of young Navy and Marine Corps officers. We hope that you can join us for these events as we move forward with our program.