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Asian Studies

The Asian Studies major is an interdisciplinary program of study combining the humanities, the social sciences and language study. Asian Studies courses, taught both at Pomona and at the other Claremont Colleges, offer a variety of perspectives on Asia's past and present. The Asian Studies major provides not only a broad introduction to the culture and history of Asian societies, but also an opportunity for specialized study of an academic field within Asian Studies. Prospective majors and minors should plan their programs with a member of the Asian Studies faculty at Pomona College. Asian Studies majors profit from their intellectual training in a wide range of careers, including government service, positions with the United Nations and other agencies, college or university teaching, journalism, banking and international trade.

Pomona's Asian resources include the Pacific Basin Institute (PBI) and its archive of documentary video and film materials. The Asian Studies program joins with PBI in sponsoring a continuing series of conferences, workshops and lectures, featuring scholars, writers and public figures from countries along the Pacific Rim.

Requirements for the Major

The Asian Studies major requires the student to select both an area emphasis (e.g., a country-China, Japan, Korea, India, etc.-or region-East, Southeast or South Asia) and a disciplinary emphasis (e.g., art history, economics, history, literature, politics, political economy, religious studies, theatre, etc.).

Ten courses are required, including Asian Studies (ASIA) 190, Senior Thesis Seminar, and 191, Senior Thesis, distributed as follows. All courses must be taken for a letter grade to count toward the Asian Studies major.

  1. Six courses must be on Asia or have substantive content on Asia. At least one course must be from each of the following groups: (a) art/music/theatre/ dance; (b) advanced language/literature; (c) philosophy/religion; and (d) social sciences (anthropology, economics, history, politics, sociology). Three of these courses must be in the selected country or region.
  2. Two additional courses must be in both the selected geographical area (country or region) and the chosen discipline. At least one of these courses must be a seminar or a discussion-based class other than the Senior Thesis.
  3. The Senior Seminar and Thesis (190 and 191) must be taken in the senior year. Majors conduct research and complete a thesis in their respective disciplines or multidisciplinary fields, and on their chosen country or region.

    In addition, at least two years' (or equivalent) study of Chinese, Japanese or Korean is required of students emphasizing East Asia, China, Japan or Korea; others are encouraged to study the relevant Asian language when such courses are appropriate (and available) to their overall plan.

    A period of residence in China, Japan or another Asian country is normally required. A semester of study abroad should normally follow the fourth semester (or equivalent) of language instruction in an Asian language.

    Asian Studies majors are asked to submit a proposed program of study to the Asian Studies faculty no later than the fall semester of their junior year.

Asian Studies Learning Outcomes

  1. Familiarity with an Asian culture gained through a direct experience of living and learning in it that is evidenced by the record of study abroad (time spent in country, grades, and credit hours passed).
  2. Proficiency in an Asian language at an intermediate level or above measured by standardized achievement tests for the target language (where available). The purpose is to allow the individual to access and participate in the subjective self-understanding of an Asian culture.
  3. Academic knowledge of an Asian culture that spans more than one disciplinary perspective, indicated by the distribution courses passed in the major and by what is evident to thesis readers. The underlying objective is to engender holistic knowledge of the culture of at least a part of Asia.
  4. The ability to carry out a self-designed research program grounded in academic literature. To help students succeed, we offer a two-semester thesis seminar: the first semester has students deciding on a research topic, compiling a bibliography, reading the pertinent literature, and composing a research question, tentative outline and research schedule; the second semester has students writing the thesis in individual consultation with two faculty members. Two faculty readers will assess the senior thesis for rigor, originality, and attention to detail chiefly in such matters as coherence, academic relevance, and style. We believe the ability to pursue a personal intellectual agenda relating to Asia with academic rigor and a holistic perspective is a core pedagogical objective of the major.

Academic Dean