Professor of History
Co-Chair of Integrated International Studies, Chair of Asian Studies
At Knox Since: 1992
Once you know the words for what you want, you might think that
ordering food in a restaurant is one of the easier tasks on a trip overseas.
But there's more to a Chinese menu than meets the eye, according to
Michael Schneider, professor of history at Knox.
"Chinese food is so diverse, that it's just as important to learn the Chinese terms for the things that you don't want to eat," Schneider advised a group of Knox faculty preparing for a recent two-week trip to China. "If you don't want to eat pork or kidney or liver, you should be able to spot those Chinese characters on the menu. If you're allergic to shrimp and you see 'three fish' on the menu, you can be sure that one of them is shrimp."
Schneider is a specialist in Japanese and Asian studies, and he has guided both student and faculty trips to China and Japan.
The two-week faculty trip to China in December 2008 is the kind of "intensive, academically-focused experience that will have consequences, expected and unexpected, across the curriculum," Schneider said. The Knox faculty studied Chinese government and business, and met with Knox alumni and friends of the College residing in China.
Dubbed the "Caterpillar China Project," the trip to China and a ten-week pre-trip seminar were supported by a grant from the Caterpillar Foundation to the Center for Global Studies at Knox
The Caterpillar China Project was designed to expand the number of faculty with direct experience in China, according to Schneider.
Because the seminar participants went to China "in faculty mode, not in tourist mode," Schneider says they went to places they might not have visited on their own, and he anticipates that faculty will incorporate those experiences into their courses.
"The experience also helps faculty advise students who are interested in off-campus study," Schneider says. About half of Knox students participate in off-campus study, including programs in China, Japan and India.
"Asian culture is an important part of America's history and its future," Schneider says. "Historians claim that the 20th century is known as the American century because of the influence of our culture during the century. Some are now claiming the 21st century will be known as the Asian century because of the influence of that culture."
Schneider has published articles on Japanese history and is completing a book on the Japanese colonial empire, 1914-1931. He has studied Japanese-Korean relations and has received several grants, including a Knox Faculty Initiative grant for Korean language study.
Schneider also has served as co-director of Knox's Center for Global Studies, helped plan Knox's major in Integrated International Studies, and has been resident director of the Japan Studies Program at Waseda University in Tokyo, a cooperative program offered through Knox's membership in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, a regional educational consortium.
Schneider joined the Knox faculty in 1992. He earned his B.S. in chemistry at Michigan State University, and an M.A. in Asian history and Ph.D. in modern Japanese history at the University of Chicago.