The study of Asia at St. Olaf means delving into rich cultural traditions — both historic and contemporary. Focused primarily on East Asia, students have the opportunity to study four years of Japanese or Chinese language, a variety of interdisciplinary courses designed specifically for Asian Studies, and discipline-based courses set in Asia.
A major in Chinese, Japanese or Asian Studies might include internships in Taiwan, China, or Japan; study abroad in China, Japan, Thailand, India, or Korea; and participation in Asia-related events on campus. Eighteen faculty members affiliated with the department teach and advise students on Asia-related study and experiences.
of our majors travel to Asian countries while at St. Olaf
Asian Conversations Program is unique to St. Olaf
Asia share of total Minnesota exports
Asian Conversations Program
Asian Conversations offers you a dynamic cultural exploration that begins with two semesters of Chinese or Japanese language study during your first year on campus. During sophomore year you continue your language study while taking three linked courses organized around the theme of “Journeys Through Asia.” Readings include historic and contemporary narratives from travelers, pilgrims, migrants, writers, and political leaders. You explore connections across Asia from diverse perspectives in the humanities and social sciences, complemented with language skills in Chinese or Japanese.
In January you’ll travel to China and Japan for an experiential interim through ethnographic observations, site visits and on-site interviews, all the time practicing your language skills. Students are centered in Shanghai and Tokyo with excursions to other parts of China and Japan. Interim serves as a bridge between grounding in traditional culture that was introduced in the fall, and the reworking of tradition during the modern era, which we cover in the spring.
Two professors lead each of the three sequenced courses taught in English: AS210, 215, and 220. All courses challenge you to think across traditional disciplines from history to literature to the social sciences, across national borders and languages, and across time.
The Asian Studies Department sponsors two Honor Houses which serve as venues for student activities related to Asia and for speaking Chinese and Japanese languages.