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Myanmar Initiative

Why Cornell?

Cornell’s Southeast Asian Program’s (SEAP) Myanmar Initiative is a multifaceted effort to interest in and access to Burma/Myanmar that began in the fall of 2014.  

Burma, or Myanmar as it is also known, is an extremely diverse and complicated country located in Southeast Asia that very recently became much more connected to the rest of the world. Cornell University is using this opportunity to build academic connections, and foster international collaboration between US and Burmese scholars.

The university is uniquely situated to facilitate transnational academic exchange and produce cutting-edge research on Myanmar given its unique position as a hub of Southeast Asian studies; it also counts numerous illustrious alumni who are engaged in important social, political and economic roles in Myanmar. Cornell’s Southeast Asia Program (SEAP) has one of the world’s best libraries on the region, the John M. Echols Collection which houses tens of thousands of texts about Burma. Its long-standing Burmese language program is one of two in the U.S. that regularly offers the language at all levels of instruction, and recently hired a new Burmese lecturer, Yu Yu Khaing. In addition to funding from the Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell, SEAP was recently awarded a U.S. Department of Education National Resource Center grant that will support the Burma/Myanmar Initiative.  

Programs, Events, and Goals
Poster with information about a Burmese language class offered at Mohawk Valley Community College

The Myanmar initiative works to support and increase the number of Cornell faculty doing research in and concerning Myanmar. This leads to an increase in Burmese related course offerings at the university. Additionally the Myanmar Initiative is also supporting efforts to institutionalize the Burmese language program at Cornell, and increase the number of schools that offer Burmese. Cornell is also working to develop a study abroad program in Myanmar for undergraduate students. 



Cornell recently hosted the 2015 Burma/Myanmar Research Forum entitled "Borders, Bounds, and Brinks: Rethinking Boundaries In and About Burma/Myanmar" where recent scholarship on Burma/Myanmar was presented, and scholars from all over the world were able to meet and connect. 



Cornell has given support to Mohawk Valley Community College so that the Utica branch of the school can offer a beginning Burmese conversation course. Taught by Saw Bwel Bwel, a Burmese refugee who arrived in the US over a decade ago, this course is targeted towards those who work with refugees from Myanmar like teachers, social service providers, and healthcare workers. 

Current Projects
Aerial view of stairs leading up to a pagoda

The Southeast Asia Program (SEAP) will be holding a Burmese Language Pedagogy Workshop at Cornell on October 10-11, 2016. This workshop will aim to build a collaborative network of Burmese language instructors as well as chart a course for improving Burmese language instruction and developing new materials in the future. More details on the workshop will be coming soon.

In preparation for this workshop, SEAP has put together surveys targeting Burmese language students and instructors to identify the areas of greatest need for instructional materials, curricular alignment, and pedagogical development. If you are interested in participating in such a survey, please email with the subject line "request to participate teacher" or "request to participate student" by September 15th.  The email addresses and data gathered through these surveys will be used for no other purpose than this project.

In addition, if you are interested in attending the workshop, please email with the subject line "request to register."  Registration will close on September 23rd.

If you have any questions about the survey or upcoming workshop, please contact