By encompassing, and in many ways, transcending, traditional programs in commerce, culture, and politics, and by reexamining traditional borders and boundaries between nations and peoples in the Asia, the Asian Studies major equips Whitman students with the knowledge, skills and cultural tools they need to become service-minded global citizens and leaders.
In addition to a rigorous, comprehensive curriculum of more than 30 courses spanning fields such as anthropology, art, and politics, Asian Studies majors also study two years of Chinese or Japanese with faculty and native speakers who serve as assistants in the language classes. Small class sizes and student-faculty ratios ensure students collaborate closely and build strong professional relationships with professors who are experts in the cultural and geographical areas they seek to explore.
The program also encourages students to immerse themselves in the cultures they study by living in one of several interest house residences on campus as well as through tailored study abroad programs, including the Associated Kyoto Program, a two semester study abroad program that is sponsored by Whitman along with 14 other prestigious liberal arts colleges in the United States, and Whitman’s intensive six-week summer program offered at Yunnan University in Kunming, one of the most ethnically diverse provinces in China.
The department also offers the chance to put your passport to use and do some field work through our foreign study programs. They include: the Associated Kyoto Program, a consortium of 14 other liberal arts colleges, located on the Doshisha University campus in Kyoto, Japan; a cooperative program with several other liberal arts colleges for study in Kandy, Sri Lanka; Whitman Summer Studies in China; and programs for study at other universities in China, Japan, and Taiwan. In even-yeared summers, we offer the Whitman Summer Studies in China program, a six-week academic program in Kunming, China, specifically for Whitman students interested in Chinese studies. In addition, the Whitman-in-China program provides an opportunity for recent graduates to spend a year teaching English to university students at Yunnan University in Kunming, Shantou University in Guangdong, and the Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an. Many of the recent graduates of Asian Studies have pursued careers in Asia. Currently, students are pursuing post-graduate work in Sri Lanka, working for a company in Japan, and teaching English in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China.
Students of Chinese and Japanese have the opportunity to sharpen their language skills, as well as deepen their knowledge of and appreciation for the cultures of these civilizations, by living in the Tekisuijuku (Japanese) or the Asian Studies House (Chinese).
Countries to which Whitman students regularly go for study abroad programs include China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Whitman’s Sheehan Art Gallery houses one of the nation’s finest collections of Asian art, as well as a traditional Japanese tea ceremony room called Chikurakken.