East Asian Studies

This multidisciplinary concentration is designed to serve undergraduate students wishing to attain reasonable fluency in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean and specialized exposure to selected East Asian subjects. The concentration serves students with two types of professional and academic interests: those who wish to pursue professional careers related to the East Asian region, and those who will continue their education at the graduate level in the humanities or social sciences with special emphasis on China, Japan, or Korea.

Concentrators' academic experiences should culminate in their senior project. Concentration advisors will guide and supervise in the planning of individual concentrations to ensure the development of coherent programs of study.

The Language Requirement: The concentration requires students to demonstrate a basic proficiency in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. For the purposes of the concentration, proficiency is determined to be consistent with successful completion of the Department’s third-year course sequence in either Chinese or Japanese (0500-0600), or its equivalent. Native speakers of these languages may, for example, demonstrate competency such that language courses may be unnecessary. Department language instructors may also determine that course work completed at one of the language-intensive study abroad programs attended by our undergraduates is comparable to courses offered at Brown. Because the Department normally only offers the first two years of Korean, students wishing advanced instruction in that language would normally do so as part of a study abroad program. Note that we do not equate completion of third-year Chinese, Japanese, or Korean with fluency in these languages. Rather, we believe that students who have demonstrated the skills associated with third-year Chinese, Japanese, or Korean have acquired a foundational understanding of the languages’ grammar, vocabularies, and conversational patterns, such that they are able to make themselves understood in everyday situations, and to understand both spoken and written communication.

For the purposes of the concentration, language courses through the third-year are treated as an accompanying requirement.

Required Introductory Surveys: All concentrators are required to complete successfully both History 0410 “Introduction to East Asian Civilization: China” and History 0420 “Introduction to East Asian Civilization: Japan.” Both courses are offered annually by the History Department; History 0410 in the fall, and History 0420 in the spring. These courses offer chronologically broad surveys of Chinese and Japanese history. They are required for concentrators in order to provide them with common frameworks for thinking about historical change in East Asia, and to raise an awareness of issues and developments outside of their particular geographical or temporal areas of focus. Department faculty are also aware that many undergraduates come to Brown with backgrounds in “Western Civilization” and North American history, but little if any exposure to the histories and cultures of East Asia, and believe that these courses play an important role in addressing those deficits. We encourage students to take these introductory courses early in their careers at Brown.

Content/Topics Courses: The revised concentration requires seven courses in addition to History 0410 and 0420. At least one elective must fall outside the primary focus of the concentrator’s course of study, which may be defined in linguistic, chronological, thematic or cultural terms. One of the seven electives may, with the consent of the concentration advisor, be a course topically unrelated to East Asia, but beneficial to the student’s disciplinary and/or theoretical interests.

As is common for interdisciplinary concentrations, a wide range of courses, including many taught by faculty in other departments, may be counted toward the concentration. These include courses offered by East Asian Studies faculty, faculty with courtesy appointments in the Department, and courses with a significant focus on East Asia offered in such disciplines as Archeology, Anthropology, Economics, International Relations, and others.

Advanced seminars: At least one of the seven elective courses must be an advanced research seminar, typically taken in the junior or senior year. The research seminar will normally provide students with the opportunity to develop a project or paper focusing on one or more of their areas of inquiry within the concentration. Students are strongly encouraged to find ways to incorporate the use of Chinese, Japanese or Korean language materials in their research and learning in these courses. Courses falling into this category include but are not limited to the East Asian Studies 1950 series and History 1970 series. The Department will provide a list of pre-approved advanced seminars every semester. Students wishing to add courses to that list must submit their requests in writing to the Undergraduate Advisor at the start of the semester.

Summary of requirements:

Students who are interested in developing a double concentration, including East Asian Studies as one of the two concentrations, should bear in mind that normally no more than two courses may be double-counted toward satisfying the course requirements of either of the two concentration programs involved.

Concentrators are strongly encouraged, but not required, to study in East Asia for one or two semesters during their undergraduate years. Course credits earned abroad are generally transferable to Brown. However, a maximum of three courses taken abroad, of genuine intellectual substance and significantly related to East Asian Studies, may be considered for concentration credit.




Page last updated in February, 2012.

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