The Asian Studies Program offers an undergraduate major and minor. These rigorous but flexible interdisciplinary curricula promote specialized knowledge regarding the history, politics, cultural expression, and societies of East, South, and/or Southeast Asia, diverse and dynamic regions that play ever more prominent roles on the global stage. The Asian Studies major* combines substantial training in a relevant language – Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, or Korean – and a stimulating, well-rounded mix of History, Humanities, and Social Science courses related to Asia. Students are thus exposed to a wide range of disciplinary approaches to the study of Asia, including Anthropology, Art History, History, Language and Literature, Political Science, and Religious Studies. Besides being interdisciplinary, ASIAN STUDIES emphasizes a broad temporal scope, allowing students to cultivate interests from ancient times to the present.
As a regional studies program, ASIAN STUDIES encourages participation in global learning, offering non-Euro-America-centric approaches to History, the Humanities, and the Social Sciences. Students sharpen their critical skills regarding the production of knowledge beyond “Western”, i.e., Euro-American, traditions; they also have a vantage point for critically reexamining the development and influence of “Western” ideas and institutions, especially those that have influenced Asia. While understanding Asia (or, more precisely, East, South, and/or Southeast Asia) in its own context is a primary goal, the major allows students to cultivate a deep appreciation for the transcultural and transnational flow of people and ideas within Asia and between Asia and the rest of the world.
ASIAN STUDIES majors are expected to achieve the following skills:
- Develop proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing one Asian language (Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, or Korean). Proficiency indicates that students should be capable of speaking fluently with good grammatical, lexical and cultural accuracy in formal and informal speaking styles; reading authentic texts such as literature, newspapers, and magazines (with a dictionary, as needed); understanding spoken language in daily conversations, public speeches, and media; engaging and discussing cultural values and assumptions in readings and mass media; and writing reports, letters, and notes in formal and informal language.
- Demonstrate a capacity to a) deconstruct academic arguments about Asian history, society, and culture, understanding how scholars' theoretical stances and uses of sources influence their conclusions and b) analyze both Western and non-Western media coverage of Asian society and culture, using the content knowledge gleaned from ASP courses to formulate informed responses and critiques.
- Formulate well-organized and well-supported arguments in writing and in speech, using both Western and Asian-language sources (to the extent they are available).
- Use primary and secondary sources to design and execute independent research that enhances our understanding of Asia, making use of appropriate library resources and databases when possible.
- Critically assess visual, literary, and intellectual artifacts and various forms of documentary source material for bias and to foster an appreciation for the historical and societal contexts of their production, while simultaneously deploying such material as evidence to formulate and support arguments.
- Readily make connections from comparative and transcultural perspectives
ASIAN STUDIES majors are expected to acquire the following types of knowledge (encompassing a range of disciplines):
- Broad understanding of the culture, history, and social experience of one or more Asian countries from local, international, and comparative perspectives.
- Broad knowledge of critical links between Asian countries and between Asia and other world regions.
ASIAN STUDIES majors should:
- Be able to function in diverse cultural settings.
- Cultivate relations with peers and faculty who come from diverse backgrounds.
ASIAN STUDIES majors will be prepared to:
- Pursue professions where knowledge of Asian languages and cultures is valuable (e.g., education, government service, business and finance, journalism and mass media, the arts, writing and translation, social work, law, medicine, and domestic and international NGOs)
- Pursue graduate study in a number of academic disciplines.
- Foster communication and linkages between one’s home country and Asia or among communities within Asia.
* The learning goals discussed here explicitly relate to the ASIAN STUDIES major; most of these points are also true for the ASIAN STUDIES minor, albeit to a lesser extent, given the lower number of courses required for the minor.Some of these learning outcomes were inspired by examples at other institutions, including the East Asian Studies Program at Brandeis University and the Asian Languages and Literatures Department at Pomona College. Back to top