Exploring East Asian Studies at Notre Dame

June 30, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Exploring East Asian Studies at Notre Dame

Notre Dame is home to one of the most prestigious East Asian Studies programs in the country. Historically, the program dates back to the 70s, when it was founded with a focus on Japanese language and culture. Over time, it has grown to encompass a broad study of East Asia as a region. At present, students who enroll in the program learn about the societies, languages, religions, social issues, and cultural manifestations of the region. The program encompasses a range of disciplines such as history, political science, literature and film studies, and anthropology.

History of East Asian Studies Program at Notre Dame

The first classes in the program concentrated on the Japanese language and culture, and in 1974 it became a fully-fledged department offering programs in Japanese. Other languages, Chinese and Korean, were introduced in 1981 and 1996, respectively. Today, Notre Dame’s East Asian Studies program is one of the largest of its kind in the United States and comprises 25 full-time faculties specializing in the field, and offers a major and minor in East Asian Studies.

The East Asian Studies program at Notre Dame has a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, with courses covering a wide range of topics such as history, literature, religion, politics, and economics. The program also offers study abroad opportunities in East Asia, allowing students to immerse themselves in the culture and language of the region. In addition, the program hosts various events and lectures throughout the year, inviting scholars and experts in the field to share their knowledge and insights with the Notre Dame community.

Notable Professors and Scholars in East Asian Studies at Notre Dame

Among its faculty are some of the most respected Professors and Scholars in the field of East Asian Studies. This includes Gary Xu, a Professor of Chinese studies, whose research work focuses on modern Chinese literature and film; and Lionel Jensen, a Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, whose interests include the history of Chinese medicine, religion and the occult, and modern Chinese literature. Other notable scholars include Paul Groner who specializes in Buddhist studies; Jonathan Noble, an interdisciplinary specialist on Japanese colonialism; and Dong Wang, who works on modern and contemporary Chinese literature.

Students working on a library while working.

In addition to these esteemed scholars, Notre Dame’s East Asian Studies department also boasts a number of up-and-coming researchers who are making significant contributions to the field. One such scholar is Mei Li, whose research focuses on the intersection of gender and nationalism in contemporary Chinese literature. Another rising star is Hiroshi Nakamura, whose work on the history of Japanese colonialism in Korea has garnered international attention.

Notre Dame’s East Asian Studies department is also known for its strong emphasis on language learning. The department offers courses in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, and has a number of language immersion programs that allow students to study abroad in East Asia and gain fluency in their chosen language. This commitment to language learning is reflected in the department’s faculty, many of whom are fluent in multiple East Asian languages and are able to offer students a unique perspective on the cultures and societies of the region.

Curriculum Overview for East Asian Studies Program

The East Asian studies program at Notre Dame is built around its majors and minors and offers a flexible course of study. Students can select majors in language and culture, or culture and society, and have a choice of major elective courses. Midway through their studies, students must study abroad for a semester in East Asia, and take part in an internship in the area of East Asian Studies either in the US or in East Asia.

Additionally, the program offers a variety of extracurricular activities, such as cultural events, language tables, and study groups, to enhance students’ understanding of East Asian cultures and languages. The program also provides opportunities for students to participate in research projects and present their findings at academic conferences.

Graduates of the East Asian studies program at Notre Dame have pursued careers in a variety of fields, including business, government, education, and non-profit organizations. Many have also gone on to pursue advanced degrees in East Asian studies or related fields. The program’s emphasis on language proficiency, cultural understanding, and critical thinking skills prepares students for success in a globalized world.

Study Abroad Opportunities in East Asia for Notre Dame Students

As part of the East Asian Studies program, students have various opportunities to study abroad in East Asia. With Notre Dame’s Global Gateway Centers in China and South Korea, students have two options for immersion in the region. Additionally, the program collaborates with prominent universities and institutions in East Asia, which include Tokyo University, Kyoto Seika University, and National Taiwan University. These programs are highly competitive, and students can develop cross-cultural experiences, strong linguistic skills, and the ability to critically analyze social issues in East Asia.

Students who participate in the study abroad programs in East Asia also have the opportunity to engage in cultural activities and events, such as traditional tea ceremonies, martial arts classes, and visits to historical sites. These experiences allow students to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of East Asia.

Furthermore, the East Asian Studies program offers various scholarships and grants to support students who wish to study abroad in the region. These financial aid opportunities can help alleviate the cost of travel, housing, and other expenses, making it more accessible for students to participate in these life-changing programs.

Career Opportunities for Graduates with an East Asian Studies Degree

Graduates of the East Asian Studies program find success in fields such as education, government, non-profit organizations and international corporations. The program is committed to shaping graduates’ skills to address contemporary global challenges through a rigorous analysis of East Asia’s past, present, and future social, cultural and political contexts. Graduates of the program gain proficiency in cross-cultural communication, and an understanding of East Asian cultures through the study of language and society.

Young woman smiling in the school halls.

One of the most popular career paths for graduates of the East Asian Studies program is teaching English as a second language in East Asian countries. This is a great opportunity for graduates to immerse themselves in the culture and language they have studied, while also gaining valuable teaching experience.

Another career option for graduates is working in international business, particularly in companies that have a presence in East Asia. Graduates with an East Asian Studies degree have a unique understanding of the cultural and social norms in the region, which can be invaluable in business negotiations and partnerships.

Internship Programs Available for Students Enrolled in the East Asian Studies Program

The program has a unique arrangement with alumni networks who work in the private and public sectors in East Asia. Through these networks, the program offers various internship opportunities to students throughout the year, both in the US and East Asia. Internships vary and may include but are not limited to translation, research, government service, project management, and consulting. This exposure gives students a chance to supplement the skills gained through coursework, collaborate on culturally diverse settings, and analyze social issues from various perspectives.

Additionally, the program provides students with resources and guidance to help them secure internships that align with their career goals and interests. This includes resume and cover letter workshops, interview preparation, and networking events with alumni and industry professionals.

Furthermore, students who complete internships through the program have the opportunity to earn academic credit and have their experience recognized on their transcript. This can be a valuable asset when applying for jobs or graduate programs in the future.

Student Organizations Focused on East Asian Culture and Language at Notre Dame

Notre Dame’s East Asian Studies Program has a wide array of student organizations dedicated to exploring East Asia’s rich cultural heritage and promoting academic advancement. These include the Japan Club, Chinese Cultural Society, and Korean Culture Society, which aim to expose students to East Asian cultures through events, language exchanges, and performances.

Students can also opt to write and publish articles on East Asian issues through the department’s very own literary journal, East Asian Studies Matters, which focuses on promoting interdisciplinary research concerning various East Asian issues and events within the program.

Two students talking to a professor.

In addition to these organizations, Notre Dame also offers a study abroad program in East Asia, allowing students to immerse themselves in the culture and language of countries such as Japan, China, and South Korea. This program provides students with the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of East Asian cultures and languages, as well as to develop valuable skills for their future careers.

Furthermore, the East Asian Studies Program at Notre Dame hosts a variety of guest speakers and events throughout the year, including lectures, film screenings, and cultural festivals. These events provide students with the chance to engage with experts in the field and to learn more about current issues and trends in East Asia.

Comparing the East Asian Studies Program at Notre Dame to Other Universities

The East Asian Studies program at Notre Dame is often compared to other universities’ programs, with most students and faculty noting the program’s strong focus on academics, language, study abroad programs, and internship opportunities at partner institutions. The program emphasizes cross-disciplinary study, which connects essential aspects of East Asia, such as its historical and contemporary cultures, its religions and politics. The program’s courses are challenging and require students to engage in critical thinking, writing, and speaking about the complexities of the region’s political economy, social struggles, and literature, among others.

One unique aspect of the East Asian Studies program at Notre Dame is its strong emphasis on community engagement. Students are encouraged to participate in service-learning projects that allow them to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world issues affecting East Asian communities. These projects range from working with local immigrant populations to collaborating with international organizations on development initiatives.

Another notable feature of the program is its commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion. The program actively seeks to recruit and support students from underrepresented backgrounds, and offers resources and programming to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students. This focus on diversity and inclusion is reflected in the program’s curriculum, which includes courses on topics such as race and ethnicity in East Asia and gender and sexuality in East Asian cultures.

Research Projects and Publications from Faculty and Students in the East Asian Studies Program

The East Asian Studies program at Notre Dame is known for producing scholarly research projects and publications. Faculty conduct research on a wide range of East Asian issues, publishing their findings in peer-reviewed academic journals. Students in the program are also expected to participate in research projects with faculty members.

Such projects are designed to provide students with hands-on research experiences that could translate into post-graduate research-study opportunities elsewhere and give students a chance to contemplate East Asian issues from a new vantage point.

Female student smiling at the camera while in a library.

One recent research project from the East Asian Studies program focused on the impact of Confucianism on modern Chinese society. The project was led by Professor Zhang and involved a team of undergraduate students who conducted interviews with Chinese citizens from various regions and backgrounds.

The findings of the project were published in the Journal of East Asian Studies and presented at a conference in Beijing, China. This project not only contributed to the academic understanding of Confucianism but also provided valuable research experience for the students involved.

Impact of the East Asian Studies Program on Notre Dame’s International Relations Department

The East Asian Studies program at Notre Dame has had a significant impact on Notre Dame’s international relations department. Through its study of East Asia, the program has helped the department explore connections between their regional expertise and transnational issues, illustrating the ways in which political, economic, and social dynamics in East Asia interact with developments in other regions. Additionally, the program served as a model for other schools in terms of producing high-quality research and graduates who have an exceptional understanding of international relations and geopolitical issues.

One of the key ways in which the East Asian Studies program has impacted Notre Dame’s international relations department is by fostering a greater understanding of the cultural and historical context of East Asia. This has allowed students and faculty to approach issues in the region with a more nuanced perspective, and has helped to break down stereotypes and misconceptions about East Asian societies and cultures.

Young woman using a laptop while holding a pen.

Furthermore, the program has played a crucial role in promoting cross-disciplinary collaboration within the department. By bringing together scholars from different fields, such as political science, history, and anthropology, the program has facilitated a more holistic approach to the study of international relations, one that recognizes the complex interplay between political, economic, social, and cultural factors in shaping global events and trends.

Future Developments of the East Asian Studies Program at Notre Dame

The East Asian Studies program at Notre Dame has achieved success in recent years, marked by its embrace of interdisciplinary learning, language proficiency, and East Asian-focused internships. For its future developments, the program is aiming to increase the capacity for engaging East Asia in broader global contexts.

Its program will revisit and re-emphasize areas such as globalization, environmental issues, the ongoing impact of colonialism, migration flows, and human rights, allowing students to better understand and predict both East Asia’s complex social issues and its growing economic relevance.

In conclusion, the East Asian Studies program at Notre Dame provides students with a rich and comprehensive understanding of the history, culture, and society of East Asia. Whether students are interested in academe, business, non-profit work, or government, the program equips them with a range of linguistic, cross-cultural, and analytical skills necessary in today’s global context and competitive market.

Male student reading a likely letter on a library.

One of the future developments of the East Asian Studies program at Notre Dame is to expand its language offerings. Currently, the program offers courses in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. However, the program is looking to add additional languages such as Vietnamese and Indonesian to better reflect the diversity of East Asia and provide students with a wider range of language skills.

Another area of focus for the program’s future developments is to increase its engagement with East Asian communities both locally and globally. This includes developing partnerships with East Asian universities, hosting cultural events, and providing opportunities for students to participate in service-learning projects in East Asia. By doing so, the program aims to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of East Asian cultures and societies among its students.



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