The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures traces its roots to the nineteenth century and the first courses in Sanskrit offered at the University of Michigan. Instruction in Chinese and Japanese were added in 1936. Today the department offers instruction in twelve languages of Asia. Over the course of its long history, the department has produced internationally renowned scholars of Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, and Buddhist Studies.
Today, the department has graduate students working in China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, India, and Indonesia in disciplines including Literary Studies, Media Studies, History, Anthropology, and Religious Studies. Staffed by twenty-five faculty with interests and expertise that are both deep and broad, in the past decade the department has sought to move beyond the area studies model to explore the boundaries between the traditional regions of Asia and Asian Studies, tracing lines of influence and interconnection across borders, languages, and historical periods.
The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures knows that not only do students want a rigorous, comprehensive educational experience, but also preparation for a wide and diverse array of careers. That’s why we ensure that our students graduate with an exceptional pedagogical background, which is increasingly valuable to employers.
The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures holds regular pedagogy workshops for students on cutting-edge topics in Asian studies and higher education, offering a minimum of three per year. Ph.D. students are afforded four full terms during their fellowship in which to focus solely on coursework and research, followed by six semesters of developing classes and teaching. This provides students with highly marketable in-classroom experience not common for Ph.D. students graduating from other institutions.
“The whole process, from designing my own course, to putting together the syllabus—which in and of itself was a process of coming up with my own teaching philosophy—to organizing the reading material into lectures and group discussions for the class, was such a rewarding learning experience for me,” says current Ph.D. student Susan Hwang. “I was able to experience what it was like to apply my teaching philosophy in a classroom setting, a skill that would have been difficult to acquire if not through an opportunity of designing and teaching my own course.”