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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6300 voice

Asian Studies View this department's website

The Asian Studies Program fosters interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of the rich cultural heritage of Asia. Course offerings cover a broad range of disciplines, primarily in the humanities. These include history, anthropology, art history, philosophy, religion, sociology, and literature with options for individual students to include courses from additional disciplines. Many of these courses complement other programs within the University, particularly the study of Chinese and Japanese language. Program faculty strongly encourages Asian Studies students to study in Asia as part of their major program.

The minor in Asian Studies focuses on the study of the broad historical and cultural traditions of Asia as a foundation for the exploration of more specialized topics, both in the humanities and in contemporary areas of social, political and economic development. Sister University relationships with Tokyo International University, Kawagoe, Japan, and Beijing University, Beijing, China, provide opportunities for overseas study and for faculty exchanges which enrich the program offerings.

Requirements for the Asian Studies Minor (5 Credits)

Five credits are required for the Asian Studies minor. Credits to be earned abroad should be approved by the Asian Studies faculty before the foreign study program begins.

One credit from the following entry courses (1)

  • HIST 117 (TH) East Asian Civilization to 1800 (1) or
  • HIST 118 (TH) East Asian Civilization Since 1800 (1)

Four courses from the following list, two of which must be 300 or 400 level courses (4)

  • ANTH 233 (US) Peoples & Cultures of Asia (1)
  • ARTH 212 (IT; TH) History of the Arts of Asia (1)
  • ARTH 213 (IT; TH) History of the Art of China (1)
  • ARTH 214 (IT; TH) History of the Art of Japan (1)
  • HIST 233 (TH) History and Culture Along the Silk Road (1) [Crosslisted with REL 233]
  • HIST 265 (TH) Late Imperial China (1)
  • HIST 282 (TH) Twentieth-Century China (1)
  • HIST 380 History of Traditional Japan (1)
  • HIST 381 (TH) History of Modern Japan (1)
  • HIST 383 Mao's China 1949-1979 (1)
  • HIST 384 History of Chinese Medicine (1)
  • HIST 445 Postwar Japan (1)
  • JAPN 201 (W) Modern Japanese Society and Culture (1)
  • JAPN 240 Japanese Language and Culture (Intercultural Communications) (1)
  • JAPN 314 (W; IT; 4th Sem Lang Req) Japanese Literature in Translation (1)
  • JAPN 340 The Japanese Cinema (1)
  • POLI 374 Asia and the International System (1)
  • REL 135 Religions of Asia (1)
  • REL 239 Introduction to Chinese Religions (1)
  • REL 262 Japanese Religions (1)
  • REL 348 Buddhism (1)
  • REL 354 Topics in Asian Religion (1)
  • REL 356 Taoism (1)

Note: Where scheduling difficulties resulting from participation in an overseas study program may arise, some course substitutions, including independent study courses, may be allowed, subject to faculty approval. For advising or information, contact one of the program faculty.


  • Carol Doolittle, Professor of Sociology
  • Greg Felker, Assistant Professor of Politics
  • Miho Fujiwara, Associate Professor of Japanese
  • Kevin Greenwood, Instructor of Art History
  • Kumiko Koishi, Instructor of Japanese
  • Ronald Loftus, Professor of Japanese Language and East Asian History
  • Pamela Moro, Professor of Anthropology
  • Juwen Zhang, Luce Junior Professor of Chinese
  • Xijuan Zhou, Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Course Listings

ASIA 258 Topics in Asian Studies (1)

This course studies specific topics such as socio-economic policy, history, oral history, ethnic identity, literature, religion, language, art, folklore, or film from inter-disciplinary perspectives. In addition to the theoretical discussion, fieldwork and community service may be involved. Group and individual projects and assignments are expected.

Prerequisite: None. A course related to the topic suggested. Alternate years. Staff

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

ASIA 352 Field Study in Asia (1)

This post-session course is conducted in one or more Asian countries, focusing on the social changes of the target countries in their transition from and conflict between tradition and modernity in a globalizing world. A fieldwork-based course, its topics include political system, cultural and artistic expressions, economic changes, holiday and festival celebrations, language, ethnicity, or other aspects of globalization and localization. There will be trips to museums, cultural relics, schools, factories and villages, lectures and discussions on the road and at the site, guest lectures on topics chosen, and reading on the topics chosen. With first-hand experience of participation and observation, the course will enhance the students' understanding of the cultures and people of the target countries. Post-session.

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Staff

ASIA 390 and 391 Independent Study (.5 or 1)

Intensive study of a selected topic. Normally for juniors or seniors who are majors in Asian Studies. Requires program faculty approval. May be repeated with different content.

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

ASIA 499 (W) Senior Seminar (1)

[Crosslisted with JAPN 499 and CHNSE 499]

Provides a framework for students to develop a research project or other equivalent activity in consultation with faculty. The objective of the Senior Year Experience will be to consolidate and integrate the student's knowledge of Japan, China, and/or Asia more generally and the fields of Japanese, Chinese, and/or Asian Studies. Majors in Japanese, Chinese, or Asian Studies. Conducted in English.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff