Asian Studies

Ann Marie Leshkowich, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology and Director

Home of major philosophical, religious, and artistic traditions that have shaped the values of more than half the world's population, Asia is critically important in today's global marketplace and in international politics.  Asian Studies offers students a multi-disciplinary major and a minor as well as a variety of extracurricular activities to explore and interpret this vibrant region.  Faculty with research and teaching expertise in Asia from a wide range of departments within the College work together to develop courses and activities that create opportunities for students to understand traditional and contemporary histories, social and political movements, religious foundations and transformations, economic development, philosophical traditions, and artistic productions within Asia, globally, and in diaspora.  Students can receive training in Asian languages at the College or through other programs, such as Study Abroad or the Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts.  In addition to serving as a focus of a broad liberal arts education, Asian Studies provides majors and minors the benefit of interdisciplinary training that can lead to careers in international affairs, public policy, law, business, journalism, technology, health development, scholarship, and the arts. 

Major in Asian Studies:

Asian Studies majors learn to view Asia from a variety of perspectives.  Students who elect an Asian Studies Major must meet with the Asian Studies Director to construct an initial plan of study.  Students decide how they want to formulate their geographic focus, but they must fulfill the interdisciplinary pattern outlined below.  For example, students can decide to focus on China from a variety of disciplines, to consider both India and Southeast Asia, or to expand their knowledge across the Asian region.  Within the interdisciplinary framework, students might also elect to take clusters of courses that permit a focus on a particular theme, such as economic transformation, war and migration, public health, or artistic and religious practices.  All majors, no matter what their direction, must take one year of an Asian language as described below. Students may take a maximum of 14 and a minimum of 10 courses. Majors must meet the following requirements:

  • One introductory survey of Asia (HIST 103 Perspectives on Asia: Traditional Asian Cultures; HIST 104 Perspectives on Asia: Modern Transformations; ANTH 170 Contemporary Asia; RELS 106 Buddhism, or a course approved by the Director).

  • One course on the Arts of Asia. This could include offerings in literature, theatre, studio art, art history, or music, with a limit of three courses in the performing arts.

  • One course that offers an historical perspective (beyond HIST 103 or 104). This course should be taken with a faculty member in the history department who specializes in the area that a student chooses to investigate in East, Southeast, or South Asia.

  • One course that provides a methodological or analytical framework for approaching the study of Asia.  This course does not necessarily need to be devoted to an Asian theme.  In consultation with their Asian Studies advisor, students may choose this course from approved offerings in academic departments.

  • One course that focuses on religion in one or more areas of Asia.  Normally, this course would be taken from faculty in the Religious Studies department or in another department with the approval of the Director.

  • At least three additional courses on Asia with two of them above the 100 level.

Language Requirement: The requirement for a major is knowledge of an Asian language equivalent to one year of college study in a language relevant to the geographic area or theme on which the student chooses to focus.  This requirement can be fulfilled in a number of ways:

1. Completion of one year of language study at the College.

2. Completion of intensive language as part of an approved study abroad program. (Note that all of the approved programs in Asia provide intensive language study options with additional classroom hours so that students cover in one semester the equivalent of two semesters of language study.)

3. Completion of intensive language study in an approved summer program.

4. Students who acquire knowledge of an Asian language in alternative ways, e.g., through advanced placement or non-credit bearing language study such as online courses or who are heritage speakers, must be evaluated by a language placement exam.  These students must take additional electives to fulfill the ten course minimum requirement for the major.

Minor in Asian Studies
Students may elect a minor in Asian Studies in conjunction with any major. Students who plan to elect an Asian Studies Minor must meet with the Asian Studies director to construct an initial plan of study. The minor consists of  six courses according to the following requirements:

One introductory survey of Asia (HIST 103: Perspectives on Asia I: Traditional East Asia; HIST 104: Perspectives on Asia II: Modern Transformations; ANTH 170: Contemporary Asia; RELS 106 Buddhism or a course approved by the Director).

In addition to the introductory course, students must choose five electives on Asia. In order to fulfill our mission to encourage an interdisciplinary approach to Asia, a maximum of two courses in any one discipline (i.e., history, anthropology, philosophy, economics, political science, theatre, music, language, linguistics, literature, religious studies, sociology) can be applied toward the minor.
We strongly encourage students pursuing the minor in Asian Studies to elect at least one course in each of two sub-regions of Asia: South and Southeast Asia (India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia) and East Asia (China, Japan and Korea). Two courses taken in a College approved Study Abroad Program may count toward the minor. Students should consult with the Asian Studies director to make sure that courses taken abroad fulfill the proper requirements. 

Study Abroad and off-campus study opportunities
Students are encouraged to study in Asia for a semester or an academic year. Currently, Holy Cross offers programs in China, Indonesia, Japan, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

Listed below are courses in departments that count toward the Asian Studies major and minor. Please refer to the individual departments within the catalog for full course descriptions. Each year faculty offer new courses that are not yet in the Catalog but that count toward the Asian Studies major and minor. Please refer to the course guide and the Asian Studies website for these additional listings.

ANTH 170 Contemporary Asia
ANTH 274 Art and Power in Asia
CHIN 101,102 Elementary Chinese 1, 2
CHIN 103 Introduction to Chinese Culture
CHIN 201, 202 Intermediate Chinese 1, 2
CHIN 250 Traditional Chinese Literature
CHIN 255 Chinese Culture Through the Camera's Eye
CHIN 260 Chinese Linguistics
CHIN 301, 302 Third Year Chinese 1, 2
CHIN 401, 402 Fourth Year Chinese 1, 2
CHIN 409, 410 Intro to Literary Chinese 1, 2
ECON 205 Economics of Development
ECON 221 Economic Development of Modern China
ECON 309 Comparative Economic Systems
ENGL 375 Asian American Literature
HIST 103 Perspectives on Asia I: "Traditional" East Asia
HIST 104 Perspectives on Asia II: Modern Transformations
HIST 106 Origins of Japanese Culture
HIST 280 Modern India
HIST 281 Imperial China
HIST 282 Modern China
HIST 283 Ethnic Conflict in 20th Century Asia
HIST 285 Warrior Tradition in Japan
HIST 286 Modern Japan
HIST 288 Japan Since the Pacific War
MUSC 151 World Music
MUSC 153 Music of Bali-Gamelan 1
MUSC 253 Music of Bali-Gamelan 2
PHIL 254 Philosophy East and West
PHIL 255 Asian Philosophy
PHIL 268 Philosophy of Human Rights
PHIL 360 Aristotle and Confucius
PHIL 361 Confucian Values and Human Rights
POLS 274 Modern China
POLS 275 International Political Economy
POLS 278 East Asia in World Politics
RELS 101 Introduction to the Comparative Study of Religion
RELS 106 Buddhism
RELS 120 Comparative Religions/World View
RELS 161 Religions: China and Japan
RELS 165 Ancient and Medieval Hinduism
RELS 214 The Modernization of Asian Religions
RELS 216 Readings in Asian Religious Texts
RELS 255 Ecology & Religion
RELS 260 Comparative Mysticism & Human Ecology
RELS 265 Modern & Contemporary Hinduism
RELS 305 Mahayana Buddhism
RELS 311 Zen Buddhism
RELS 312 Theravada Buddhism
RELS 333 Comparative Theology
RELS 340 Gardens & World Religions
SOCL 279 Sex and the Global City
SOCL 378 Body, Work and Global Society
THEA 131 Balinese Dance 1 - 2
THEA 126 Asian Performance Tradition
THEA 232 Balinese Dance 3 - 4