Park University’s annual Constitution Day lecture will feature a discussion on “Ambassadors of Goodwill: Japanese-American Student Resettlement during World War II.” The event will be held Wednesday, Sept. 13, starting at 7 p.m. in Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel on the University’s Parkville Campus. Admission is free and open to the public.
The speaker for the event will be Allan W. Austin, Ph.D., professor of history at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa. His discussion will focus on Japanese-American college students who faced a series of crises after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The lecture will explore the ways in which the students responded, thinking about the short- and long-term implications for both the students and the wider American society. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Feb. 19, 1942, which authorized the incarceration of Japanese-Americans (as well as German-Americans and Italian-Americans) to concentration camps.
Austin is an immigration historian with a primary focus on investigating the contested meanings of race and American identity, especially in the 20th century United States. He has explored these issues in his books, including From Concentration Camp to Campus: Japanese-American Students and World War II (University of Illinois Press, 2004). Misericordia has honored Austin with the Louis and Barbara Alesi Excellence in Scholarship Award in both 2006 and 2013, and the Max and Tillie Rosenn Excellence in Teaching Award in both 2008 and 2014. The Alesi award recognizes and promotes the academic accomplishments of faculty members in terms of their scholarship and/or artistic achievements. The Rosenn award recognizes outstanding contributions to student learning and development as elected by the student body. Austin earned his doctorate degree from the University of Cincinnati, and both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Bowling Green State University.
Constitution Day, or Citizenship Day as it is also called, is federally mandated for all institutions of higher education that receive federal funding. The legislation was enacted in 2004 and implemented by the U.S. Department of Education in 2005. It celebrates the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens.
Park’s Constitution Day event is sponsored by the University’s Department of History and Political Science, and the National Archives at Kansas City.