2021 Woodyard Award recognizes Kapila D. Silva for international work

LAWRENCE — Kapila D. Silva, professor of architecture at the University of Kansas, is the recipient of the 2021 George and Eleanor Woodyard International Educator Award. Silva will give a talk on what it means to be an international educator at the award presentation and reception at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, April 28 at the Kansas Memorial Union in the Malott Room.

Kapila SilvaThe award selection committee was impressed with Silva’s creation of an Asian-focused study abroad program, the introduction of courses that included non-Western perspectives and his mentorship of international students and those doing research with an international context. The committee also highlighted Silva’s research and collaboration with colleagues from around the world, development of international partnerships, engagement with KU International Affairs and the area studies centers, and his co-directorship of the Multicultural Architecture Scholars Program.

“The committee recognized Silva for his sustained and consistent commitment to international education, research, service and internationalization of the curriculum in the School of Architecture & Design,” said Brent Metz, selection committee chair and professor of anthropology. “The number of study abroad programs he has run in several different countries, the 250-plus students he has led abroad and the number of institutional collaborations he has established are extraordinary. His commitment to international education is transformative to the discipline.”

Silva, who is also the associate dean for diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging in the architecture & design school, came to KU in 2007 as a visiting faculty member. In 2008, he received a full-time, tenure-track position.

In 2008, Silva collaborated with colleague Jae Chang to create the school’s first Asia-focused study abroad program, which has taken more than 250 students to China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. The program explores historic and contemporary architecture and urbanism in these countries. During the program, Silva works with local universities, professionals, and architecture and construction firms, strengthening connections between KU and its international partners.

At KU, Silva has integrated cultural and historical global perspectives into new courses and programs. For example, one of his courses explores how culture, history and physical location determine how ordinary people create the built environment. Another course on historic preservation theory adds international perspective by discussing the global preservation theories and practices developed by UNESCO for the World Heritage Program.

In the nomination letter, Hui Cai, chair of the architecture department, wrote that Silva’s “study abroad program, studios and courses have not only internationalized our curriculum, but they have also brought in much-needed non-Western perspectives to decolonize and expand our predominantly Eurocentric curriculum.”

Additionally, Silva is a committed mentor to undergraduate and graduate students, working closely with domestic students to engage with architecture and design in an international context and supporting international students as they navigate KU. 

Silva’s research also has an international reach, focusing on global heritage conservation and addressing theoretical and pragmatic issues related to UNESCO’s World Heritage Program, specifically in the non-Western and Asia-Pacific region. Collaborating with a network of scholars and contributors from around the world, Silva is the lead editor of a number of publications: The Routledge Handbook on Cultural Landscape Heritage in the Asia‐Pacific (Routledge: 2022), The Routledge Handbook on Historic Urban Landscapes in the Asia‐Pacific (Routledge, 2020), Cultural Landscapes of South Asia: Studies in Heritage Conservation and Management (Routledge, 2017) and Asian Heritage Management: Contexts, Concerns, and Prospects (Routledge: 2013). He is the co-author of “The Tämpiṭavihāras of Sri Lanka: Elevated Image‐houses in Buddhist Architecture” (Anthem Press: 2021).

The Woodyard Award also recognizes Silva’s engagement with internationalization efforts at KU, including his involvement with the University Senate’s International Affairs Committee, International Affairs Council and the American Council on Education’s Internationalization Lab initiative at KU. He has also served on review committees for the Foreign Languages and Studies (FLAS) Travel Awards, Graduate Direct Exchange Program and International Humanities Summer Travel Grants. He gives guest lectures in different academic disciplines throughout the university and is an affiliated faculty member of KU’s Center for Global & International Studies, Center for East Asian Studies, Kansas African Studies Center and Museum Studies Program.

“Silva’s unanimous selection among a strong field of candidates acknowledges his substantial and lasting impact on international education at KU,” Metz said.

The late George Woodyard, the first dean of international studies, and his wife, Eleanor, endowed the award, which KU International Affairs coordinates. The award recognizes faculty on the Lawrence campus who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in strengthening KU’s international reach in such areas as curriculum development, study abroad programs, relationship with international partner institutions and collaboration with international colleagues in significant research and publications. The award includes a $1,000 stipend.

A full list of previous recipients is online.