The Asian Studies Program offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of Asia with courses and advising in anthropology, art history, economics, education, film, geography, history, language and literature, philosophy, political science, religion, and sociology. It promotes a global understanding of Asia that recognizes interactions between Asian societies and relationships between Asia and the rest of the world that cross and permeate national boundaries. While majors focus on a particular region of Asia (e.g., East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, or West Asia) including language study, intermediate and advanced coursework, and a senior thesis in this area, they are also expected to be familiar with some other parts of Asia through the introductory courses and some coursework outside their area of specialty. The Program offers a correlate sequence in Asian Studies and a correlate sequence in Asian American Studies.
While majors take courses on Asia offered in a wide range of disciplines, they are also expected to choose one or two disciplines in which they develop a theoretical or methodological sophistication that they apply to their study of Asia, particularly in their thesis and senior seminar work.
A student’s program of study for the major or correlate is designed in close consultation with the director and an advisor. Students should obtain an application form, which includes a statement of interest, from the program office or the Asian Studies website prior to meeting with the program director. This should be done by the end of the first semester of the sophomore year if the student plans to apply for study abroad. The director and members of the program faculty review the application and make suggestions for modifications. Any changes to a plan of study should be discussed with the advisor in advance; significant changes are reviewed by the director.
Study Abroad: Study abroad in Asia greatly enhances a student’s learning experience and understanding of Asia and is highly recommended for program majors. Advice and information on different programs are available through the Office of the Dean of Studies (International Programs), Asian Studies, and the Department of Chinese and Japanese.
Asian Studies Courses: This catalogue has two lists of courses for the Asian Studies major and correlate. First, courses offered by the program and cross-listed courses are listed by level. Second, additional approved courses are listed by name and number (these are courses on Asia offered in other departments; see department listings for course descriptions). Both lists are courses that can fulfill major and correlate requirements. Courses not on the lists, which may be appropriate to an individual student’s plan of study, are considered for approval by the director and steering committee upon request by the student major or correlate, after consultation with the advisor. Each semester the Asian Studies website posts a list of upcoming courses for use during preregistration.
Requirements for the Concentration in Asian Studies: 12 units of which at least 7 are normally taken at Vassar. After declaration of the major, all courses taken towards the major must be graded. Students may request, however, that up to 1 unit of independent study or field work be counted towards the major.
- Introductory-Level Study: Two introductory level courses either offered by Asian Studies, cross-listed, or from the approved course list (excluding language courses).
- Language: Competency in one Asian language through the intermediate college level must be achieved and demonstrated by completion of relevant courses or special examination. Normally, 100-level language work does not count toward the major. A maximum of four units of Asian language study may be counted toward the 12 units for the major. Arabic is offered through Africana Studies. Chinese and Japanese are offered by the Department of Chinese and Japanese. Hindi, Korean, and Turkish may be taken through the Self-Instructional Language Program. The language studied should be directly relevant to the area of emphasis and approved by the director.
- Intermediate-Level Study: A minimum of 3 units of intermediate course work (200-level) of direct relevance to Asia in at least two disciplines, selected from the lists of program courses and approved courses below. Recommendation: At least two of these courses should be related to the student’s regional focus within Asia and at least one should be outside the area of regional specialty.
- Advanced-Level Work: A minimum of 3 units at the 300-level including the designated Asian Studies “Senior Seminar”, 1 unit of thesis work (Asian Studies 300-301 or Asian Studies 302), and at least one additional 300-level seminar from the lists of program courses and approved courses below. The senior seminar and the thesis constitute the Senior Year Requirement.
- Discipline-Specific Courses: Majors are expected to choose one or two disciplines in which they take courses and develop a theoretical or methodological sophistication that they bring to bear on their study of Asia, particularly in their thesis and senior seminar work. Introductory work in each discipline should be taken early to fulfill prerequisites for upper level work in the chosen discipline.
- Area-Specific Courses: Majors should try to include three or four courses (not including language study) that focus on a student’s geographical area of specialization within Asia, and two courses that include a geographic area other than the region of focus.
Requirements for the Correlate Sequence in Asian Studies: 6 units of coursework on Asia (program courses, cross-listed courses, or approved courses) including one 100-level course and at least one 300-level seminar. Courses chosen for the correlate should reflect a topical, or area, or methodological focus. Asian language study is recommended but not required. Up to two units can be taken outside the College, through Study Away or other programs. Up to two units of Asian language study may be counted toward the correlate. Up to three 100-level courses may be counted (however, at least one has to be a content course). After declaring a correlate sequence, no NRO courses can be taken to fulfill the requirements. Students may request that up to 1 unit of independent study or fieldwork be counted towards the correlate.
A short “Declaration of Asian Studies Correlate” proposal form is available on line at the Asian Studies Program website, and in the Asian Studies Program office. On this form students prepare a short, one paragraph proposal and a list of the six planned courses, after consulting the course list in the catalog and the online schedule of classes and discussing the sequence with an adviser. Declaration proposals should describe the focus of the coursework and how it complements the student’s major. The proposal must be approved by the program director.
Requirements for the Correlate Sequence in Asian American Studies: Each 6 unit correlate sequence in Asian American Studies is designed in consultation with an advisor from the Asian Studies program and the Asian Studies director. The correlate should include (1) courses on Asian American studies (2) at least one course on global or transnational Asian studies/Asian diasporas or on diasporas and migration in general (3) at least one course on Asia (AS program courses, cross-listed courses, or approved courses), (4) other relevant courses on race and/or ethnicity in American society. The correlate will ordinarily include at least one 100-level and at least one 300-level course.
A short "Declaration of Asian American Studies Correlate" proposal form is available on line at the Asian Studies Program website, and in the Asian Studies Program office. A list of courses approved for the Asian American Correlate sequence is available from the program director.
Study abroad in some region of Asia greatly enhances a student's learning experience and understanding of Asia and is highly recommended for program majors and language correlates. Advice and literature on different programs are available through the Offices of the Dean of Studies (Study Away ffice) and Asian Studies. Vassar has had two decades of experience placing JYA students in China, Taiwan, and Japan. Students have also traveled to India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and parts of Southeast Asia.
Advice and literature on different programs are available through the Offices of the Dean of Studies, Asian Studies, and through Vassar's Office of International Programs. The Office of International Programs website provides a list of institutions approved by Vassar for the junior year abroad.
Applications for the major and correlate
Each prospective major or correlate must submit an application to the director of Asian Studies indicating his or her interest in majoring or pursuing a correlate sequence in Asian Studies. A student's program of study for the major is designed in close consultation with the director and an advisor. Students should obtain an application form, which includes a statement of interest, from the program office or the Asian Studies website prior to meeting with the program director. This should be done in the first semester of the sophomore year if the student plans to apply for study away. The director and members of the program faculty will review the application and make suggestions for modifications. Any changes to a plan of study should be discussed with the advisor in advance; significant changes will be reviewed by the director.