Jisoo Hyun, a doctoral student in social and cultural foundations at the University of Washington College of Education, has received a Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for her project “Education at the Crossroads of Trans-Pacific U.S. and Japanese Imperialism: Korean Schooling in Territorial Hawaii, 1906-1940.”

Hyun is among 35 outstanding scholars to receive the $27,500 fellowship, awarded by the National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation to encourage a new generation of scholars from a wide range of disciplines and professional fields to undertake relevant research to the improvement of education. 

Hyun’s research grows from her exploration of the archives of two Korean private schools in Hawaii: the Korean Central School (1906-1919) and the Korean Christian Institute (1915-1940). Her dissertation focuses on the schooling experience of Korean immigrants in territorial Hawaii (1898-1959) to examine its significance in relation to the American imperial project but also within the context of the competing imperialism of the U.S. and Japan. 

“Drawing upon the cases of the first two Korean private schools in pre-statehood Hawaii and examining the stakeholders therein, my dissertation contextualizes the ways in which such educational institutions, established and run by Korean immigrants whose lives were enmeshed in the U.S./Japanese imperial projects, functioned as sites of negotiation for the meanings and methods of agency, nationalism and citizenship,” Hyun said.

In addition, her dissertation will look into how Korean educators offered a distinctive brand of Americanization and civic education that stemmed from a strong desire to establish Korean national sovereignty, promote ethnic nationalism and create cultural differentiation while assimilating into Protestant America. The research study will be conducted within the context of trans-Pacific U.S./Japanese imperial entanglement with an aim to enrich knowledge of the junctures between education and imperial projects.

Prior to her doctoral studies, Hyun earned an MA in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University, and a BA in Korean Literature from Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul. She also had experience working as a researcher at the Institute for Modern Korean Studies in Seoul.

Story by Annie Trieu, marketing and communications student aide.


Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications
206-543-1035, dwunder@uw.edu