AHA Member Spotlight: James H. Fujita
James H. Fujita is an associate professor of history at the University of Hawaii's Leeward Community College located in Pearl City, Hawaii. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has been a member since 2009.
Alma maters: BA, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1980; MA, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1983; ABD, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1988
Fields of interest: US diplomatic, US political, modern Japan, world
Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?
For five years I was a graduate teaching assistant in the world civilizations program in the History Department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (1980-85). I had the privilege to study under and served as a teaching assistant to Dr. Jerry Bentley, one of the founders of the World History Association and the first editor of the Journal of World History. At the time I was a graduate student, there were many outstanding faculty members in UH Manoa's history department including Dr. George Akita (Japanese history) and Dr. Herbert Ziegler (European history). I continue to use the Bentley, Ziegler, Traditions and Encounters textbook when teaching world history at Leeward Community College.
For 19 years I was a lecturer/adjunct faculty member at various colleges and universities on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. They included Outreach College at the University of Hawaii at Manoa from 1987 to 2006, Kapiolani Community College from 1987 to 1997, Hawaii Pacific University from 1998 to 2006, and Chaminade University of Honolulu from 1998 to 2006. I worked on multiple campuses each semester and was able to teach enough courses to continue a career teaching history. It was tough being terminated at the end of each semester but I was continuously hired to teach in the following semester and was fully employed during those 19 years as an adjunct.
I started teaching at Leeward Community College as a lecturer in 1997 and eventually was offered a tenure-track position in 2006. In 2011, I received tenure and promotion to assistant professor. In 2015 I was promoted to associate professor.
What do you like the most about where you live and work?
Hawaii is a beautiful place to live, although the cost of living is very high and Honolulu suffers from the same problems of most big cities in the United States. Leeward Community College is a pleasant place to work. As a community college faculty member, teaching is the main focus. I prefer teaching rather than doing research. The faculty and staff at Leeward Community College are friendly and supportive. It is a pleasant work environment.
What do you value most about the history discipline?
As a foundations course, we provide basic knowledge that is useful in most other courses our students will eventually take. What I teach can be applied to and assist students in doing well in religion, philosophy, art, and many other courses including non-humanities courses.
Why is membership in the AHA important to you?
It benefits me in my professional development. I can keep up with the latest research by reading the American Historical Review. I learn about the latest scholarship from reading of book reviews and learn about my profession through Perspectives on History.
Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share?
No, but I enjoyed the AHA meeting in San Diego in 2010 despite the controversy surrounding the politics of the owner of the hotel venue. I loved the weather and its location on the West Coast. San Diego was beautiful! It is now my favorite city in America. I hope we can one day meet again in San Diego or somewhere warm on the West Coast. It seems as though the AHA loves to pick the coldest places in America or locations on the East Coast.
AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.
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