Rheumatic Rescue, a program in Samoa originating from Utah universities, is one of several initiatives across Asia being driven by Utah schools. Image: Jake Buntjer & Clark Goldsberry.

Universities Underpin Utah’s Ties to Asia

Japan Korea Asia

Following the University of Utah opening of its South Korea campus, the David Eccles School of Business created the first ever joint MBA and Master’s of Entertainment Arts and Engineering degree. Partnering with Chung-Ang University, the two schools will create a digital gaming and engagement research and development center at the campus in Songdo, Korea.

The new R&D center will teach graduate-level courses focusing on the digital gaming industry’s technical and business aspects. The University of Utah’s MBA/MS EAE is the first offered in the US, and its joint degree with Chung-Ang makes it the first international degree of its kind.

Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University are conducting research in Asia by helping Samoan people combat rheumatic heart disease. About 80 out of 1,000 residents in Samoa suffer from the disease, the highest rate in the world and due in part to genetics. What began as a doctoral thesis has become Rheumatic Rescue, a humanitarian effort to train Samoans on how to prevent, screen for, and treat the heart disease.

Utah is also well-connected to Japan, as Salt Lake City celebrated its 10th annual Japan festival, “Nihon Matsuri,” on April 25th. The free public event featured cultural activities such as tea ceremonies, as well as vendors of Japanese goods and food. Salt Lake City shares a sister city partnership with Nagano in Matsumoto Prefecture, while Magna has a sister city in Yuzawa, Nigata Prefecture. The state also made history recently when the University of Utah Utes accepted an athlete from Japan for their football team, the first player of Japanese descent ever accepted to a Division I-A team.

In addition to people-to-people and cultural exchanges, Japan is an important trading partner for Utah, importing about $640 million in goods from the state in 2013. Computers and electronic products comprised about 35% of Utah’s exports to Japan.

Melissa Newcomb is a Project Assistant at the East-West Center in Washington, D.C.