Rob Efird of the Department of Anthropology, has received a Fulbright Scholar Research Award to spend the 2011-12 academic year in China. Efird, who as recently announced has been promoted to associate professor, will help assess and better implement environmental education in China’s public schools. "China's Ministry of Education has mandated environmental education in all of China’s public schools,” Efird explains, “but there are a number of obstacles to its successful implementation.” He will work with local scholars, schools and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to overcome those obstacles.
For Efird, who is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, both the terrain and research are familiar. He has spent the past four summers in southwestern China’s Yunnan Province working on environmental education and helping schoolchildren “learn to live sustainably and become good stewards of their ecosystems." As part of that work, he interviewed members of the elementary school administration in Lashihai, Yunnan Province.
“This is an exciting and well deserved opportunity for Professor Efird,” says Jodi O’Brien, chair of the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work. “He has an outstanding reputation as a scholar of East Asia and is particularly well-respected for his unique theoretical approach to economic development in China. In recent years he has established connections with local NGOs and other agencies and activists with the intent of studying environmental education and its potential as a form of social-political activism and change in China. The department is very enthusiastic about Professor Efird’s Fulbright scholarship on Chinese environmental education and activism and we look forward to his contributions.”
Efird received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington and joined the Arts and Sciences faculty in 2004. His ethnographic research has focused on Japan and the People’s Republic of China, with an emphasis on Sino-Japanese relations and environmental issues in contemporary China. His article “Japan’s ‘War Orphans’: Identification and State Responsibility” appeared in the Journal of Japanese Studies, and his book chapter, “Learning By Heart: An Anthropological Perspective on Environmental Learning in Lijiang,” was published this year in the edited volume Environmental Anthropology Today. In addition to his research, Efird regularly leads an environmental studies summer program, the ChinaGreen program, which is offered by The Beijing Center, a Jesuit university-supported overseas study program.