Why Asian Studies?

Montage of images - one showing tower in Burma, another a view looking down on a person holding stick across their shoulder which is balancing a basket of limes on one side and basket of lemons on the other, the final image is marketplace selling yellow and orange cloth

Asian Studies is an interdepartmental program that introduces students to the history, cultures, and societies of Asia - including principally China, Japan, and India. Courses are offered in the departments of Art, Economics, English Literature, History, Linguistics, Modern Languages and Literatures (Chinese and Japanese), Music and Dance, Political Science, Religion, Sociology and Anthropology, and Theater.

As the largest interdepartmental program at the College, Asian Studies plays a significant role in many departments in the humanities and social sciences. Some students choose a major or a minor in Asian Studies; many others study about Asia while majoring in political science, economics, history, religion, anthropology, or other fields.

Studying Asia and gaining experience in the Asian world are important to understanding the global flows of peoples, cultures, technology, and business in today's world. In earlier generations students were primarily interested in traditional art, literature, or religion, or else in politics (World War II or the Cold War). In more recent decades, the attraction for some has been spiritual (Zen meditation, for example), and for others economic (rural poverty or global business). Today -- as the Asian American community expands and diversifies, and as Asian cultural and technological influences have become part of American life -- learning about Asia is not so exclusively about the "Other," but often about "Self." To study Asia, then, is to trace the diverse strands of Asian cultures that have originated in different regional, national, and local traditions, but which have now become increasingly intertwined with global life in the twenty-first century.