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Why Asian Studies

Why should you study Asian studies? 

  • Asia is the largest region in the world, with 60% of the world’s population  
  • Asia is the world’s economic powerhouse. By 2030, China, India, and Japan will rank only after the United States in terms of Gross National Product (GDP). Not surprisingly, former President Obama has referred to the coming decades as America’s ‘Pacific Century.’
  • Asia also represents a strategic security region for the United States. Asian nations such as China have assumed a leadership role in the world’s stage and are now responsible for a large share of economic aid to developing countries in Africa, Central, and South America.
  • Asia is not only the home to the world’s oldest civilizations but it also represents the cultural vanguard. You find everything from Bollywood to K-Pop to avant-garde art in Asia. 

Why should you study Asian studies at the University of Michigan? 

  • Our classes in Asian studies are intended to make you a true citizen of the world. You will expose yourself to one of the most significant and exciting regions of the world. In our classes, you will have opportunities to learn difficult languages mastered by few Americans, perform yoga poses, prepare the world’s tastiest foods, peruse scandalous novels and Buddhist scriptures, and watch blockbuster films and view beautiful art.
  • You will also have opportunities to hone your writing, linguistic, and presentation skills, skills crucial for excelling in job interviews, graduate school, and success in the business sector.
  • Knowledge of Asian languages and cultures is useful for a career in many fields: 1) In the private sector, all regions of Asia (South, Southeast, and East) have assumed a central role in manufacturing, technology, and investment; 2) In the public sector, the US government has marked Chinese, Korean, and Urdu as critical languages for national security and economic competitiveness. Indonesian language skills are also increasing in demand with the rise of ISIS; 3) Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), specializing in economic development, healthcare, human rights, and environmental protection, are active throughout Asia; 4) Education: Asian languages and cultures are taught at all levels, including at the elementary and secondary, as well as university levels.

What makes Asian Languages and Cultures different from other Asian studies departments?

  • Besides offering students rigorous linguistic training, we emphasize a holistic approach to Asian studies unlike most traditional departments, which treat individual Asian cultures and texts in isolation.
  • Our highly-dedicated faculty teach diverse facets of Asian studies: its history, religions, economies, scientific traditions, as well as literatures, cultures, and philosophies.
  • Our classes moreover challenge students to cross linguistic, national, and disciplinary boundaries and to investigate the historical connections that unite the diverse populations of Asia.
  • Our trans-regional lecture courses and seminars examine the ways in which Asian cultures, religions, and societies have historically interacted and currently influence each other.
  • Our classes and experiential learning programs also offer students opportunities to understand the ways that Asian culinary traditions, philosophies, and business practices shape various regions within Asia, and the world outside of Asia, particularly Africa, the US, and Latin America.