June 29, 2009

College Introduces New Major in Asian Studies

Program will help expand the geographical and cultural scope of the College’s global offerings

Lafayette is offering students a new avenue to study the culture, traditions, history, and politics of the major regions of Asia.

The faculty approved an interdisciplinary major in Asian studies at its May meeting. The College previously offered a minor in Asian studies. The addition means the College now offers 32 fields of study in which students can receive a Bachelor of Arts degree and nine fields of science and four in engineering in which students can receive a Bachelor of Science degree.

Robin Rinehart, associate professor and head of religious studies and chair of Asian studies, cites student interest and the focus on globalization in the College’s new strategic plan as key factors in bringing about the new major.

“Lafayette faculty who teach courses on Asia, including the four new Asia specialists joining us this fall, are thrilled to have the new Asian studies major in place. The major is an important part of enhancing Lafayette’s global offerings as envisioned in President Weiss’ strategic plan,” says Rinehart.

The program will draw on courses in anthropology and sociology, government and law, economics, history, religion, music, and art history. There also is a foreign language requirement in Japanese, Chinese, or another approved Asian language.

The major stresses the importance of studying abroad. In the past, faculty members have led interim-abroad courses to Japan and Thailand/Burma. A new interim-abroad course focusing on Japanese culture and government will take place during the January 2010 break. Students are able to participate in a yearlong exchange program with Waseda University in Tokyo, as well as numerous other study abroad opportunities in Asia. The College also sponsors seminars, lectures, and concerts exposing the community to varied traditions of Asia.

Faculty members in the Asian studies program include Allison Alexy (anthropology and sociology), Paul Barclay (history), Ingrid Furniss (art), Naoko Ikegami (foreign languages and literatures), Seo-Hyun Park (government and law), Asma Sayeed (religious studies), David Stifel (economics), Larry Stockton (music), and Sufeng Xu (foreign languages and literatures).

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