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Exploring the World of East Asian Studies at Princeton University

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

students smiling and posing for the camera while inside an office

Exploring the World of East Asian Studies at Princeton University

Princeton University offers a comprehensive East Asian Studies program with a rich history and a wide range of unique opportunities for students who want to explore East Asia’s cultures, languages, histories, societies, and politics. In this article, we will take a close look at what East Asian Studies is all about, why one should consider studying it at Princeton University, what the curriculum and faculty of the program entail. By the end of this article, you will have gained a comprehensive understanding of what it means to explore the world of East Asian Studies at Princeton University.

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A Brief History of East Asian Studies at Princeton University

The East Asian Studies program at Princeton University was established in the 1920s, making it one of the oldest and most distinguished East Asian Studies programs in the United States. The program was mainly focused on Chinese studies, but it gradually expanded to include Japan and Korea. Today, the program covers the entire East Asian region, including China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia. The program has produced numerous scholars, diplomats, business leaders, and non-profit leaders who have made significant contributions to U.S.-East Asia relations and beyond.

Over the years, the East Asian Studies program at Princeton University has also developed strong partnerships with universities and research institutions in East Asia. These partnerships have facilitated student and faculty exchanges, joint research projects, and academic collaborations. In addition, the program has organized various cultural events, such as film screenings, art exhibitions, and performances, to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of East Asian cultures. These initiatives have helped foster a vibrant and diverse community of scholars and students passionate about East Asia and its global significance.

What is East Asian Studies?

East Asian Studies is an interdisciplinary field combining various academic disciplines such as history, literature, language, anthropology, sociology, political science, economics, art, and religion to examine East Asia’s culture, society, and politics from different perspectives. By studying East Asian Studies, you will acquire a deep understanding of the complexities and diversities of the East Asian region, as well as critical thinking, analytical, research, and communication skills highly valued in many fields and industries.

Furthermore, East Asian Studies also provides a unique opportunity to learn about East Asia’s rich cultural heritage and traditions, including its art, music, philosophy, and literature. Through studying East Asian languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, students can also gain proficiency in one or more of these languages, which can be a valuable asset in today’s globalized world. Overall, East Asian Studies offers a comprehensive and multifaceted approach to understanding one of the world’s most dynamic and influential regions.

Why Study East Asian Studies at Princeton University?

Princeton University is an ideal place to study East Asian Studies for many reasons. First of all, Princeton University is home to some of the world’s leading scholars in the field, including Professor Aaron Halegua, Professor Marijeta Bozovic, Professor Rochelle Davis, Professor Jennifer Huang, Professor Christina Lee, Professor Daniel Lin, Professor Martin Kern, Professor Thomas Conlan, and many others. These professors are experts in their respective fields and dedicated mentors and advisors committed to helping students succeed in their academic and professional endeavors.

Second, Princeton University has access to valuable resources and collections essential for conducting research and learning about East Asia. The East Asian Library at Princeton University, for example, is one of the largest and most comprehensive East Asian libraries in the country, containing over 800,000 volumes of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other East Asian language materials. Students can also take advantage of the numerous museums and cultural centers on and off-campus, such as the Princeton Art Museum, the East Asian Studies Program’s Photographic Archive, the Asian American Students Association, and the Council for International Teaching and Research.

Two young Asian girls students are consulting together

Third, Princeton University offers a vibrant and supportive community for East Asian Studies students, with various events, clubs, and groups that cater to their interests and needs. For example, the East Asian Studies Student Advisory Board organizes film screenings, speaker series, language immersion programs, and cultural workshops throughout the year, allowing students to interact with each other and with scholars, artists, and activists who share their passion for East Asia.

Furthermore, Princeton University’s East Asian Studies program offers diverse courses covering various aspects of East Asian culture, history, politics, and society. Students can choose from courses such as “Modern Chinese Literature and Film,” “Japanese Popular Culture,” “Korean Politics and Society,” and “Buddhism and Society in East Asia,” among others. These courses are taught by experienced and knowledgeable faculty members who are passionate about their subjects and committed to providing students with a comprehensive understanding of East Asia.

The East Asian Studies Curriculum at Princeton University

The East Asian Studies program at Princeton University offers a wide range of courses that cover a broad spectrum of topics related to East Asia. Some of the most popular courses include Chinese Literature and Culture, Japanese Politics and Society, Modern Korean History, Gender, Sexuality, and Family in East Asia, Buddhist Art and Architecture, and Comparative Political Economy of Asia. There are also language courses in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean that range from beginner to advanced levels, as well as independent research and senior thesis opportunities for advanced students who want to explore specific topics in more depth.

One unique aspect of the East Asian Studies program is its emphasis on interdisciplinary studies. Students are encouraged to take courses in other departments, such as History, Anthropology, and Sociology, to better understand East Asia. This interdisciplinary approach allows students to explore the region from multiple perspectives and to develop a more nuanced understanding of its complex history, culture, and society.

In addition to its academic offerings, the East Asian Studies program at Princeton University provides students with various extracurricular activities and resources. These include study abroad programs in China, Japan, and Korea, as well as cultural events, guest lectures, and film screenings. The program also has a dedicated East Asian Studies library, which houses a vast collection of books, journals, and multimedia resources related to the region.

The Faculty of the East Asian Studies Program at Princeton University

The faculty of the East Asian Studies program at Princeton University is composed of over 20 professors who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields of study. These professors are active researchers and scholars, and dedicated educators committed to providing students with a rigorous and engaging academic experience. Many professors have also lived and worked in East Asia, giving them first-hand knowledge of the region’s culture, society, and politics. Moreover, they are approachable and supportive of their students, providing guidance and mentorship throughout their academic journey at Princeton University and beyond.

In addition to their academic and professional accomplishments, the faculty of the East Asian Studies program is also actively involved in various community outreach programs. They organize and participate in events that promote cultural exchange and understanding between East Asia and the United States. These events include language exchange programs, cultural festivals, and community service projects. Through their involvement in these programs, the faculty members contribute to the local community and provide their students with opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings.

Research Opportunities for East Asian Studies Students at Princeton University

Princeton University offers numerous research opportunities for East Asian Studies students who want to pursue their academic interests and explore the region more deeply. Some of the most notable research opportunities include the Princeton in Asia program, which provides summer internships in various fields and industries in East Asia; the undergraduate thesis program, which allows students to conduct independent research under the mentorship of a faculty member, and the East Asian Studies Program’s Research Grants, which offers financial support for research projects conducted by students.

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In addition to these programs, East Asian Studies students at Princeton University can participate in various research initiatives and centers, such as the Program in East Asian Studies, the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, and the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program. These centers provide students with access to cutting-edge research, conferences, workshops, and opportunities to collaborate with scholars and experts in the field.

Furthermore, Princeton University’s extensive library system offers many resources for students conducting research. The East Asian Library, located in the Gest Center for Asian Studies, houses one of the largest collections of East Asian materials in the United States, including books, journals, and multimedia resources. The library also provides access to online databases and archives, such as the China Academic Journals Full-text Database and the JapanKnowledge+ database, which offer a wide range of scholarly materials for students to explore.

Study Abroad Programs for East Asian Studies Students at Princeton University

Princeton University offers various study abroad programs for East Asian Studies students who want to immerse themselves in East Asia’s culture, language, and society first-hand. Some of the most popular programs include the Princeton in Beijing program, which offers intensive language instruction and cultural immersion in Beijing, China; the Princeton in Ishikawa program, which provides opportunities to study the Japanese language and culture in Ishikawa, Japan; and the Princeton in Taiwan program, which allows students to study Chinese language and culture while living with local families in Taipei, Taiwan.

In addition to these programs, Princeton University also offers a summer program in Seoul, South Korea, where students can study Korean language and culture. This program includes language classes, cultural excursions, and homestay opportunities with local families.

Furthermore, East Asian Studies students at Princeton University can also participate in semester-long exchange programs with partner universities in East Asia, such as Peking University in China, Waseda University in Japan, and National Taiwan University in Taiwan. These exchange programs allow students to take courses in their field of study while fully immersing themselves in the local culture and language.

Student Life for East Asian Studies Majors at Princeton University

East Asian Studies majors at Princeton University enjoy a vibrant and diverse student life that is filled with various extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations. For example, the East Asian Studies Student Advisory Board hosts Asian cultural nights, film screenings, and other events that allow students to interact with each other and with scholars, artists, and activists who share their passion for East Asia. Several clubs and organizations cater to the interests of East Asian Studies students, such as the Princeton Chinese Theater Workshop, the Princeton Japan Society, and the Princeton Korean Student Association.

Additionally, East Asian Studies majors at Princeton University can participate in study abroad programs in East Asia. These programs allow students to immerse themselves in the culture and language of the region and gain a deeper understanding of the topics they are studying. Students can choose from various programs, including semester-long programs in China, Japan, and South Korea and shorter summer programs.

Furthermore, the East Asian Studies department at Princeton University offers students a wide range of research opportunities. Under the guidance of faculty members, students can conduct independent research projects on topics related to East Asia and present their findings at academic conferences and symposiums. This enhances their academic experience and prepares them for graduate studies and careers in the field.

Career Opportunities for Graduates of the East Asian Studies Program at Princeton University

Graduates of the East Asian Studies program at Princeton University have numerous career paths open, including academia, government, business, law, journalism, humanitarian organizations, and non-profit organizations. Many graduates have pursued advanced degrees in East Asian Studies or related fields. In contrast, others have secured positions in government agencies such as the State Department, the Treasury Department, or the Defense Department. Some have also started their businesses, worked for multinational corporations, or joined international humanitarian organizations like the United Nations or the World Bank.

In addition to these traditional career paths, graduates of the program have also found success in the tech industry. With the rise of technology companies in East Asia, there is a growing demand for individuals with a deep understanding of the region’s culture, language, and business practices. Graduates with a background in East Asian Studies have leveraged their knowledge and skills to secure positions in companies like Google, Microsoft, and Alibaba.

A female student in the background typing at a laptop while in the foreground, a vase with national flags are in focus

Furthermore, some graduates have also pursued careers in the arts and entertainment industry. With the increasing popularity of East Asian culture worldwide, there is a growing demand for individuals who can bridge the gap between East and West. Graduates with a background in East Asian Studies have used their knowledge of the region’s history, literature, and art to work in fields like film, music, and fashion.

Alumni Success Stories from the East Asian Studies Program at Princeton University

Princeton University’s East Asian Studies program has produced numerous notable alumni who have significantly contributed to various fields and industries. Some of the most noteworthy alumni include Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, journalist and scholar Orville Schell, actor BD Wong, and philanthropist and activist Wendy Kwok. These alumni serve as role models and sources of inspiration for current students, demonstrating the power of East Asian Studies education to positively influence the world.

One of the key strengths of the program at Princeton University is its interdisciplinary approach. Students are encouraged to explore East Asian cultures, languages, history, politics, and economics from various perspectives, preparing them for a wide range of careers. Many alumni have worked in international business, law, government, academia, journalism, and the arts.

Another notable aspect of the East Asian Studies program is its emphasis on language learning. Students are required to achieve a high level of proficiency in at least one East Asian language, such as Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. This language training not only enhances students’ understanding of East Asian cultures but also provides them with valuable skills for communication and collaboration in a globalized world.

The Importance of Learning About East Asia in Today’s World

Learning about East Asia has become increasingly important as the region becomes more influential in global politics, economics, and culture. East Asia is home to some of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies and some of the world’s most pressing geopolitical issues, such as the North Korean nuclear crisis, the territorial disputes in the East China Sea, and the tensions between Taiwan and China. By understanding East Asia’s history, culture, and politics, one can develop a more nuanced and informed perspective on these issues and contribute to their resolution in constructive ways.

Moreover, East Asia is a region of great cultural diversity, with a rich and complex history that has shaped its societies and values. From the ancient civilizations of China, Japan, and Korea to the modern-day pop culture phenomena of K-pop and anime, East Asia has a wealth of cultural treasures that can enrich one’s understanding of the world and broaden one’s horizons.

Finally, learning about East Asia can also benefit individuals and businesses. With the rise of East Asia as a global economic powerhouse, there is a growing demand for professionals with expertise in the region’s languages, cultures, and business practices. By acquiring these skills, one can open up new career opportunities and enhance competitiveness in the global job market.

Popular Courses in the East Asian Studies Curriculum at Princeton University

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Some of the most popular courses in the East Asian Studies curriculum at Princeton University include CHI 301: Advanced Chinese Language and Culture, JPN 317: Modern Japanese Literature, LAS 342: Chinese Politics and Society, EAS 361: The United States and East Asia, HIS 312: The Early Modern Japanese World, and REL 212: Buddhism in East Asia. These courses offer a rich and diverse range of topics and perspectives, enabling students to explore East Asia in-depth and appreciate its complexity and richness.

Scholarly Publications Produced by the Faculty and Students of the East Asian Studies Program at Princeton University

The faculty and students of theprogram at Princeton University have produced numerous scholarly publications that have made significant contributions to the field. Some of the most notable publications include The Journal of East Asian Studies, edited by Professor Martin Kern, The Princeton East Asian Studies Bulletin, which features interviews, research, and reviews by faculty and students, and the numerous monographs, edited volumes, and article publications by individual professors and students.

Insights from Visiting Scholars in the Field of East Asian Studies at Princeton University

Princeton University regularly invites visiting scholars from East Asia and other parts of the world to share their insights and perspectives on various topics related to East Asian Studies. These visiting scholars include leading academics, politicians, activists, artists, and writers who bring diverse and valuable perspectives to the community. Some recent and upcoming visiting scholars include Professor Lin Chun from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Professor Kiyoko Goto from Waseda University in Japan, and Professor Eunsook Chung from the University of Hawai’i.

In conclusion, exploring the world of East Asian Studies at Princeton University is a fascinating and rewarding experience that offers numerous academic, cultural, and professional opportunities. Whether you are interested in history, literature, politics, art, or language, the program at Princeton University has something to offer for everyone. By immersing yourself in the rich and diverse world of East Asia, you can expand your horizons, deepen your understanding of the world, and contribute to making the world a better place.

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