Geoffrey Bownas Memorial Fund

Geoffrey Bownas was appointed the first professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Sheffield in 1964. As Head of the Centre for Japanese Studies at the University, he was instrumental in implementing the recommendations of the Hayter Report, introducing Japanese as a dual degree subject with social science and arts subjects. With its focus on modern Japan as well as language, by the 1970s Sheffield had become the largest of the four departments of Japanese Studies in Britain established at the time.

Professor Bownas started his higher education in classics at The Queen's College, Oxford, but the war intervened. He joined the army in 1942 and as a code breaker became one of the generation first exposed to Japanese through military service. On returning to Oxford and graduating in 1948 he then took a second degree in Chinese subsequently spending two years at Kyoto University (in Japan). He taught both Chinese and Japanese at Oxford after his time in Japan.

Geoffrey was an eminent scholar of Japan, as represented by the 'Penguin Book of Japanese Verse', now a Penguin Classic, as well as maintaining a strong interest in Japanese business. He retired from the University of Sheffield in 1980 and became active as a consultant and writer on business affairs. In 1999 the Japanese nation recognised his work by awarding him the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. For services to Anglo-Japanese relations, Britain honoured him with a CBE in 2003. He continued to be active until a short time before his death on 17 February 2011, aged 88 years.

The Geoffrey Bownas Memorial Fund has been established in the name of Professor Bownas. The funds from the Memorial Fund are used to provide bursaries to undergraduate students studying in Japan, enabling the next generation of students to experience Japanese culture first-hand.

Donations to the Geoffrey Bownas Memorial Fund can be made here:

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The University of Sheffield is host to the National Institute of Japanese Studies, part of the White Rose East Asia Centre, an international centre of excellence on East Asia -

Photo of Professor Geoffrey Bownas

Professor Geoffrey Bownas receiving his CBE in 2003