Teaching “Many Asias” as Experiential Learning at the Undergraduate Level

Dr Evan Ward1

1Brigham Young University, Provo, United States

In 2014, scholars Daniel Hoornweg and Kevin Pope published “Socioeconomic Pathways and Regional Distribution of the World’s 101 Largest Cities.” Their study included the extrapolation of the urban areas which would be largest in the world in 2100. Most of those cities are located in Western Asia as well as Southeast Asia. As an undergraduate instructor of introductory World Civilizations courses, it is often difficult to engage students with African and West Asian history. In order to enhance the relevance of these locations (including Dar Es Salaam, Dhaka, Delhi, Nairobi, for example), I created an assignment for students which placed eight students in a research group (thus in a class with 160 students covering the largest 20 cities in the world in 2100) to study and produce reports on the specific challenges and solutions that such cities would face in urban development prior to 2100. This paper will discuss the pedagogical methods and experimental outcomes of the students’ work, with particular emphasis on their ability to engage in higher level research activities at the introductory level.  The presentation will also reflect on the potential for such activities to be transferred into higher level research as well as university-wide opportunities for further engagement with West Asia as the twenty-first century unfolds.


Evan Ward is Associate Professor at Brigham Young University . He has written numerous articles about environmental history and the history of travel and tourism. His current interests include the pedagogy and application of experiential learning in undergraduate courses.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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