Asian Studies Program

207 Mather Memorial
Phone: 216-368-5331
Charlotte Ikels, Director


Asian Studies has become an increasingly important area of study in North American colleges and universities. This is due in part to a growing acknowledgment that Asian cultures are of significance both regionally and globally. The Asian Studies program offers students the opportunity to explore these cultures from a multidisciplinary perspective so that they are able to understand the social, cultural, political, and other forces that shape and have shaped these nations.

The Asian Studies program is interdisciplinary, drawing faculty and courses from such departments as Anthropology, Art History and Art, Economics, Modern Languages and Literatures, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Religious Studies. A current list of approved courses is available from a program advisor. Several Asian Studies courses contribute to the completion of the SAGES General Education Requirements.

The undergraduate program in Asian Studies offers a major and a minor. Students are encouraged to take courses in different disciplines in order to obtain broad exposure to the languages, literature, art, culture, religious traditions, and political, economic, and social institutions of Asian countries. Asian Studies also offers an honors program to qualified majors.

In addition to course offerings, the Asian Studies program sponsors extracurricular activities that enhance the formal study of Asia and give students additional opportunities to explore and understand Asia’s importance in the global community. The program sponsors lectures and films and administers a Web site devoted to Asia. It also encourages students to participate in study abroad programs in Asian countries and to utilize Asian resources at the Cleveland Museum of Art and other local institutions.


Charlotte Ikels, Ph.D.
Professor of Anthropology; Director, Asian Studies Program

David Clingingsmith, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Economics, Weatherhead School of Management

William E. Deal, Ph.D.
Severance Professor of the History of Religion, Department of Religious Studies

Melvyn C. Goldstein, Ph.D.
John Reynolds Harkness Professor of Anthropology; Co-Director, Center for Research on Tibet

Kelly M. McMann, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Deepak Sarma, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Paul Schroeder, Ph.D.
Visiting Faculty in Political Science

Undergraduate Programs


(36-37 credit hours)

Students majoring in Asian Studies choose one of two tracks. Track 1 requires a minimum of 37 credit hours and includes an Asian language requirement. Track 2, which can only be pursued as a second major, does not require study of an Asian language. Both tracks require ASIA 133 and ASIA 134, and additional hours chosen from the list of approved courses. Students prepare a program of study, indicating specific course selections to meet the requirements for their chosen track. An Asian Studies advisor must approve each student’s program.

Track 1 (first major) - 37 semester hours

Track 2 (can only be taken as a second major) - 36 semester hours

Program Honors

Asian Studies Honors is a semester-long program for Asian Studies majors, normally taken during the senior year, which involves researching and writing an Honors Thesis. Honors program requirements include the completion of ASIA 133 and ASIA 134, at least two semesters of study of an Asian language, two further content courses in Asian Studies, and maintenance of a GPA of at least 3.0 overall and 3.2 in Asian Studies courses.
A participating student enrolls in ASIA 398 and writes a thesis under the direction of an Asian Studies faculty member. The student also receives guidance from a second reader, who must be a member of the Asian Studies program. A third reader, who need not be a member of the Asian Studies program, is optional. Each student must maintain regular contact with the supervising faculty member in the various stages of researching and writing the thesis. Detailed guidelines and deadlines for the course are available from the program director.


(18 credit hours)

The minor in Asian Studies consists of 18 semester hours of courses, including ASIA 133 or ASIA 134. The remaining 15 credit hours are selected in consultation with a program advisor. Only one year (8 credits) of language study (Japanese or Chinese) counts toward the minor.

Course Descriptions

ASIA 133. Introduction to Chinese History and Civilization (3)
This course explains the continuities and discontinuities in the history of China by stressing the development and distinctive adaptations of cultural, religious, and political patterns from the origins of the Chinese civilization to the present. By focusing on major cultural, socio-economic, and political issues such as Confucianism, Buddhism, trade relations, imperialism, and intellectual discourse in the overall Asian context (with particular reference to Korea and Japan), we discuss the historical development of China and its situation on entering the 21st century. Taking into account the key historical events in the last century, we examine the emergence of China as a modern nation-state and the fundamental transformation of Chinese society in the post-war period.
Offered as ASIA 133 and HSTY 133.
Global & Cultural Diversity

ASIA 134. Introduction to Japanese History and Civilization (3)
This course provides an introduction to various aspects of Japanese civilization, from its origins to the present. By focusing on major cultural, socio-economic, and political issues such as the adaptation and transformation of Confucianism, Buddhism, Shintoism, social structures, material culture, foreign relations, militarism, nationalism, and intellectual discourse in the overall Asian context (with particular reference to Korea and China), we discuss the historical development of Japan and the country’s position on entering the 21st century. We examine the emergence of Japan as a modern nation-state and the fundamental transformation of its society in the post-war period.
Offered as ASIA 134 and HSTY 134.
Global & Cultural Diversity

ASIA 235. Asian Cinema and Drama (3)
Introduction to major Asian film directors and major traditional theatrical schools of India, Java/Bali, China, and Japan. Focus on the influence of traditional dramatic forms on contemporary film directors. Development of skills in cross-cultural analysis and comparative aesthetics.
Offered as ASIA 235 and WLIT 235.
Global & Cultural Diversity

ASIA 284. Daily Life in Imperial China (3)
This course is an interdisciplinary study of Chinese society using methodological approaches from the fields of social, cultural, economic, and art history. In order to explore the fabric of society in Imperial China (from the beginning to the early 20th century) in a creative, interactive way--including folk customs, life at the court, in city and countryside, religious activities, gender roles, material culture, consumption, entertainment, and social hierarchies--we use the excellent Chinese collection in the Cleveland Museum of Art and various visual aids such as slides and CD-ROMs in the classroom.
Offered as ASIA 284 and HSTY 284.
Global & Cultural Diversity

ASIA 398. Honors Thesis (1–4)
Intensive study of a topic or problem under the direction of a faculty member, resulting in the preparation of an honors thesis.

ASIA 399. Independent Study (1–3)
Tutorial in Asian studies.