Eight colleges and universities in Utah have been chosen to share a three-year, $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Office of Scientific Research.

"It's a prestigious grant," said Mark Peterson, coordinator of Asian studies at Brigham Young University. The grant could be renewed for another $2.8 million in three years.The Utah Asian Studies Consortium, which includes BYU, University of Utah, Weber State University, Utah State University, Southern Utah University, Salt Lake Community College, Utah Valley State College and Snow College, received the grant.

It will be used to fund seminars for local business people and pay for student interns to go to Japan. "The idea is to encourage an exchange," Peterson said. "It is partly to keep up with the technological advances being developed in Japan."

The funds will help people learn about Asian languages and cultures, in addition to helping current business leaders keep up with Japanese technology.

Business lectures will be taught primarily by teachers from the schools who have experience with Asian cultures, Peterson said.

Although eight schools are part of the consortium, BYU will probably have the largest role. "It's the biggest and the oldest Asian studies program in Utah," Peterson said, "and we have an Asian studies major."

The schools have typically used the consortium to help each other out in classes and technical matters such as making transfer credit available.

According to Peterson, the government awarded the grant because of the consortium's accomplishments and the schools' willingness to work together.

Five grants are given each year, Peterson said. This year, four grants were renewed and the other was given to the Utah Asian Studies Consortium.