2023-2024 Catalog 
    Apr 25, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog

East Asian Studies Major

Japan and Korea are among the world’s most influential countries, due to their global political, economic, and cultural influences. Ohio Wesleyan’s interdisciplinary program in East Asian Studies (EAS) allows students to draw on resources of several OWU departments and faculty. Students who major in EAS will participate in off-campus programs in one or more of the three countries. EAS provides majors with (1) substantial language training in the Japanese language; (2) the historical, political, economic, and cultural background of East Asia from an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary perspective; (3) a specialization in a specific East Asian country; and (4) knowledge and understanding of the role of East Asia in international or global relations. Students interested in pursuing a major or minor are advised to contact the director of the program by the end of their sophomore year. EAS Faculty Advisory Board members include Ji Young Choi (Politics and Government, Program Director), Xiaoming Chen (History), R. Blake Michael (Religion), and Vanessa Hildebrand (Sociology and Anthropology).

Learning Objectives

Global changes in the last three decades include increases in the integration of the world’s economies; in international communication and travel; in the flow of popular culture across national boundaries; and in the desire for international cooperation in areas such as climate change and conflict resolution.  East Asian Studies offers students the opportunity to explore such global trends through a combination of intensive language learning, traditional coursework in diverse disciplines, study in an East Asian country, and independent research.  Majors should:

  • Display conversational mastery of Japanese (no Chinese or Korean is presently offered, but the language may be taken off-campus and/or in Korea as part of the mandatory study abroad)
  • Know the basics of East Asian geography and history including the incorporation of East Asia and its nations into the larger world system and the impacts of that incorporation
  • Become familiar with the cultural practices and world views of the main philosophical and religious traditions
  • Show an understanding of how political, economic, social, and cultural characteristics of East Asian countries compare to those of the West and of their successes and shortcomings
  • Develop critical awareness of the major problems facing East Asian countries today and of how such problems impact the world as a whole

Major Requirements

A major must take a minimum of four language courses and four required courses plus three additional elective courses.


Minimum of four semesters of college study in a language appropriate to the East Asian country. At present, courses on campus are available in Japanese. Up to two East Asian language courses may be taken during the mandatory study abroad experience.  Students focusing on Korea or China may take two courses through other institutions and two courses during their off-campus experience in Korea or China.

Other Courses

  • A major must take HIST 116 Introduction to Pacific Asia , PG 349 East Asian Politics , PG 366 Great Power Politics and U.S.-China Relations , and REL 104 Mystical Religions of the East .
  • Three additional elective courses, of which at least two must be upper level. At least two courses must be drawn from Category I. Remaining classes may be chosen from either Category II or an Independent Study course related to East Asia. With approval from the Director, credit in the major will be awarded for courses focusing on East Asia taken during study abroad. 
  • A research-based Senior Thesis written as an independent study project, as research undertaken during study abroad, or as an extension of a requirement in a course taken for the EAS major. The thesis, generally about 25 pages including bibliography, must be approved and supervised by a member of the East Asian Studies Advisory Board. If written as part of a regular course, the EAS Director will judge its adequacy for the Senior Thesis credit, but the grade will be assigned by the course instructor.


Study Abroad

Participation in an approved study abroad program in East Asia (either a semester/year abroad or substantial summer program). Pre-approved abroad programs that are offered through the International and Off-Campus Programs office are preferred and most convenient, but other programs are possible with advanced approval by the EAS Program Director.

Category II

Courses not focusing specifically on East Asia, but including substantial East Asian content.

ART 348 Asian Art , MUS 348 Music in World Cultures , PG 112 Global Issues , PG 364 International Political Economy 

Students using courses from Category II for credit in the major or minor must complete a research paper or project dealing with East Asia. The Director of East Asian Studies must approve the paper topic. Additional courses dealing with East Asia are offered on an occasional or temporary basis. Contact the EAS Program Director about whether such courses count for major credit in either Category I or Category II.

Study Abroad Programs

Ohio Wesleyan students may participate in study abroad programs through OWU exchange agreements or through Great Lakes Colleges Association programs. At present there are four programs in China and three in Japan.  OWU students have the option of enrolling in various other non-GLCA programs, including enrollment in South Korean universities.  Contact the Director of International and Off-Campus Programs for further information and application procedures.