Established in 1995 by the AAS Committee on Educational Issues and Policy and the Committee on Teaching about Asia, the Franklin R. Buchanan Prize is awarded annually to recognize an outstanding pedagogical, instructional, or curriculum publication on Asia designed for K–12 and college undergraduate instructors and learners.
On March 24, 2021 during the annual Association for Asian Studies conference, SPICE’s Manager of Curriculum and Instructional Design Rylan Sekiguchi formally accepted the 2021 Franklin R. Buchanan Prize for his authorship of What Does It Mean to Be an American?
SPICE co-developed the website for What Does It Mean to Be an American? with the Mineta Legacy Project. What Does It Mean to Be an American? was inspired by the life of Secretary Norman Mineta, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton and U.S. Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush. President Clinton, President Bush, and Secretary Mineta contributed video interviews for the website.
Buchanan Prize Committee Chair Kristi Roundtree praised the publication, sharing the Committee’s reasons for why it deserved the distinction:
What Does It Mean to Be an American? was chosen by the committee for its blend of traditional classroom methods and materials with compelling videos, well-conceived discussion questions and activities, and extension lessons as well as its excellent use of primary and secondary sources… Committee members also agreed the curriculum answers an urgent need for teachers to be able to engage students with the ongoing conflicts around race, immigration, civic engagement and activism, while grounding these concerns within a clear historical framework. What Does It Mean to Be an American? skillfully weaves the Japanese experience into each unit, making the curriculum a most worthy recipient of the Buchanan Prize.
In his acceptance speech, Sekiguchi noted
I feel deeply honored to receive the Buchanan Prize… To my team of collaborators on this project—Dianne Fukami, Debra Nakatomi, Amy Watanabe, Hannah Eaves, and Monica Olivera—thank you for truly bringing our online curriculum to life. … I [also] want to thank the members of AAS for the important work you do to promote a better understanding of Asia. As you know, in the U.S. there’s been a recent surge of violence against Asian people. I believe ignorance is a factor in these attacks, because ignorance can breed fear, and even hate. The work that you do to promote a better understanding of Asia is so invaluable. Let’s all continue that work as a community.
Sekiguchi is a three-time recipient of the prize, and his third award marks the seventh time that SPICE staff has received the award.
What Does It Mean to Be an American? is comprised of six lessons: Immigration, Civil Liberties and Equity, Civic Engagement, Justice and Reconciliation, Leadership, and U.S.–Japan Relations. There are more than 200 primary source images and 23 videos created specifically for the curriculum. To access the free online curriculum, visit https://www.whatdoesitmeantobeanamerican.com/.