Smithsonian Journeys Experts
Jonathan GoldbergBelle serves as Senior Director of International Programs at the University of Illinois at Springfield. He holds a Ph.D. in South Asian Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin with a focus on the study of the great epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, both in their classical and present day forms. Jonathan remains a student of South Asian Literature, particularly contemporary fiction, and of Asian Philosophy and Religion with an interest in the development and spread of Buddhism from India throughout Asia.
His most recent university courses include “Colonial and Post-Colonial Identity in South Asia," “The Pacific War: World War II in East Asia," and “Spaces of Encounter in East Asia.”
Jonathan has a broad interest in Thailand. He has made a point of studying the Ramakien, the Thai version of the Ramayana, which plays a central role in Thai culture. With his experience of the history and practice of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, India, China, Korea, and Japan, he is fascinated by the Theravada Buddhism found in Thailand. His study of Europe’s exploration and colonization of Asia has led to his desire to explore how Thailand remained independent while all of her neighbors became colonies. In teaching on WW II in Asia he has sought to understand Thailand’s role in the war. And, he loves spicy food and greatly enjoys Thai cuisine!
Jonathan has been in the field of International Education for over 30 years. He has organized and led study programs to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Most recently he has taken groups to China, Korea, Japan, India, and Thailand.