By Cassandra Broadwin///Staff Writer
A simple four-letter shift may be enough to change the way LC students define the four years of their college experience.
This coming fall, the East Asian Studies Department will introduce itself by a new name: the Asian Studies Department — and by extension, introduce a newly primed curriculum, philosophy, and innovative orientation. Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies Department Chair Jennifer Hubbert says this change “actually puts Lewis & Clark into an interesting position.” The department has existed for twenty or so years, but this is the first time that it will undergo a comprehensive shift like this.
“It’s going to be a significantly different program, it’s more interesting and appropriate. We’re taking a broader approach to studying the region: there’s so much common history and economic and political interconnectedness- looking at China vis-à-vis India, Japan vis-à-vis Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia. So, conceptually and geopolitically, changing the name just made sense,” Hubbert said.
While students of the major were previously required to choose either a Chinese or Japanese language-intensive focus of study, the program now offers regional foci. This opens up a palette of possibilities in addition to the existing language courses ranging from ethnomusicology to art history, anthropology, religious studies, international affairs, to economics.
“It gives the students more of an option to design this major according to their own interests,” Hubbert said.
The Asian Studies Department will also fix two more study abroad programs into its curriculum. In addition to the Japan and China trips, India and Vietnam will now be integrated directly into the major. Previously, these programs did not belong to a department and were based on a flexible “regional studies” focus. It’s not yet determined how these programs will pivot, but they are en route to significant growth and development.
“Postgraduate students from our program have been seen to go into a wide range of professions. We have a former student working at the Gates Foundation in Beijing, one at the John Hopkins Chinese Educational Program, several Fulbright scholars, to name a few,” Hubbert explained.
The department is also working on putting together a new internship database to set students up with tangible, supplementary experience.
“We’ve had a lot of demand for this expansion, it just so happened that everything has now lined up—grant funding, new faculty, etc. We’re curious to see what new perspectives come out of it.”