Asian Studies

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The cultures of Asia are among the world’s oldest and most enduring, and they also play an increasingly important role in modern-world affairs. Emigrant peoples of Asia have reshaped the cultures of the rest of the world in profound ways, expanding what is thought of as Asia beyond national and continental boundaries to include diaspora cultures in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Africa. Asia’s many distinct and interrelated civilizations are thus both ancient, dating to the Neolithic era, and widespread, geographically spanning the globe. The economic and political centers of Asia include the two most populous nations in the world and two of the three largest economies in the world. Thus, Asian Studies challenges students to explore some of the most influential and widespread cultures on the globe.

Because of this wide-ranging historical and geographic scope, Asian Studies must employ an interdisciplinary approach. The core requirement for the major in Asian Studies is a team-taught, interdisciplinary course, which offers students an opportunity to explore the breadth of disciplinary approaches to this study area. Further Asian Studies courses may be found in the departments of Political Science, Economics, History, English, International Languages and Cultures, Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Theater, Film and Media Studies. This “area studies” approach demands that students take an active and conscious part in designing their major in Asian Studies.

The Asian Studies faculty strongly recommends that students anchor their study of Asia in language study and study abroad. In addition to Chinese language offerings on-campus, St. Mary’s offers study-abroad programs at Fudan University in Shanghai, China; Lingnan University in Hong Kong, China; Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Akita University in Japan. Students may pursue the study of other Asian languages through study-abroad programs in other Asian countries, or students may choose to attend language programs at other universities and colleges in the U.S. No study of Asia and its cultures is complete without the study of an Asian language.

In addition to broadening student horizons in the liberal arts, Asian Studies provides excellent preparation for a future career in the U.S. Foreign Service, the United Nations, international non-governmental organizations, multinational business, and advanced academic studies.

The Asian Studies major is designed to promote the following learning outcomes:


To complete a major in the cross-disciplinary study area in Asian Studies, a student must satisfy the following requirements, designed to establish the breadth and depth of knowledge consistent with the goals of the Asian Studies study area.

  1. General College requirements (see “Curriculum” section”) including the following requirements to satisfy the major:
  2. Required Courses. At least 44 credit hours in Asian Studies cross-listed courses, as specified in a., b., c., and d., below. A grade of C- or better must be received in each course of the major and the cumulative grade-point average used to satisfy the major must be at least 2.00. Courses taken for credit/no credit may not be used as required courses.
    1. ASIA 200: Introduction to Asian Studies
    2. At least eight credit hours in an Asian Language, to be completed in one of the following ways:
      • Complete ILCC 101 and ILCC 102: Elementary Chinese I and II.
      • Any Asian language at another college or university.
      • Study abroad in an Asian country that includes intensive language study. Note: the Asian Studies coordinator must approve program.
      • Demonstrate at least second-semester college-level proficiency in an Asian language. Note: students who major in Asian Studies are strongly encouraged to pursue additional coursework in Asian languages.
    3. Additional elective courses: 24 credit hours in at least three separate disciplines of which 20 credit hours must be from any 300-400 level Asian Studies courses. Note: students fulfilling a major in Chinese Language (ILCC) may not use ILCC credit hours of Chinese Language to fulfill this requirement.
    4. St. Mary’s Project: eight credit hours. Note: Students who complete an interdisciplinary SMP of which only four credit hours consist in ASIA 493/494 must complete four credit hours chosen from any 300-400 level Asian Studies courses in addition to requirements a-c. Students who complete an SMP entirely outside of ASIA 493/494 must complete eight credit hours chosen from any 300-400 level Asian Studies courses in addition to requirements a-c.

Courses taken for the major should form a cohesive program and be selected in consultation with a faculty adviser from Asian Studies.

The St. Mary’s Project 
Students preparing to begin their St. Mary’s projects should submit a proposal to the program coordinator in the spring of their junior year. Proposal deadlines and procedures will be announced each spring.  Students wishing to begin their SMP mid-year should submit a proposal to the program coordinator prior to the last week of scheduled classes in the fall semester.



To complete a cross-disciplinary minor in Asian Studies, a student must satisfy the following requirements, designed to establish the breadth and depth of knowledge consistent with the goals of the Asian Studies study area:

  1. General College requirements.
  2. All requirements in a major discipline of study.
  3. At least 24 credit hours (or six courses) in courses having an Asian focus, in all of which a grade of C- or higher must be achieved, as follows:
    1. Required course: ASIA 200: Introduction to Asian Studies
    2. Additional courses to total 20 credit hours (or five courses) in at least two separate disciplines.  At least eight credits (two courses) of this total must be at the 300-400 level.

As a part of their course of study, students must fulfill an Asian language requirement in one of the following four ways:

  1. Complete ILCC 102: Elementary Chinese II.
  2. Complete the equivalent of option 1 at another institution in an Asian language.
  3. Study abroad in an Asian country including intensive language study. Programs must be approved by the Asian Studies faculty.
  4. Demonstrate at least second-semester college-level proficiency in Asian language. Courses taken for the minor should form a cohesive program and be selected in consultation with a faculty adviser from Asian Studies.

A complete list of approved current offerings will appear in the online “Schedule of Classes” for each semester. Regularly offered approved courses in Asian Studies include the following:

Art History
Theater, Film, and Media Studies
International Languages and Cultures
Philosophy & Religious Studies

Students may pursue a St. Mary's Project in Asian Studies with the permission of their major department and with the agreement of a faculty mentor approved by the Asian Studies faculty. Project credit (eight hours) does not apply toward fulfillment of the requirements of the study area in Asian Studies.



ASIA 200. Introduction to Asian Studies (4F)

This team-taught interdisciplinary course introduces students to the civilizations of Asia and the various methods related to the study of this region and its diasporas. The course includes the study of East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, as well as cultures of the Asian diaspora in North America and around the globe. A group of five to 10 faculty participates in this course.

ASIA 493/494. St. Mary’s Project in Asian Studies (1-8E)

This project, which may take many forms, draws on and extends knowledge, skills of analysis, and creative achievement developed through previous academic work. The student initiates the project, identifies an area to be explored, and proposes a method of inquiry appropriate to the topic. The project should include a reflection on the social context, the body of literature, or the conceptual framework to which it is a contribution. It must be shared with the College community through posters, presentations, or other means. This course may be repeated for up to eight credit hours. Pre- or co-requisites: Requirements in the Asian Studies study area. Approval of faculty mentor, Asian Studies coordinator, and department chair(s) of the student’s major(s).

ASIA 398, 498. Off-Campus Internship (4-16E)

Off-campus experiential learning opportunity. A variety of internships can be arranged through the Career Development Center subject to the approval of the Asian Studies faculty. The off-campus internship is an individually designed experience that allows the student to explore the relationship between learning and everyday work situations. Prerequisites: Admission to the Internship Program and approval of the study area coordinator. (See "Internships" under "Academic Policies" section.) Credit/No credit grading.

ASIA 199, 299, 399, 499. Independent Study (1-4E)

This course consists of an independent creative or research project designed by the student and supervised by an Asian Studies faculty member. The nature of the project, the schedule for accomplishment, and the means of evaluation must be formalized in a learning contract prior to registration. (See "Independent Study" under the "Academic Policies" section.)