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Chair’s Welcome

If you are curious about the world beyond American borders and recognize the value of having knowledge of the complex, dynamic, and critically important region that is Asia, then you’ve come to the right place. Offering major concentrations and minors in China, Japan, Korea, South Asia, and Asian American & Asian diaspora, the Department of Asian Studies at Vanderbilt engages students in broad and deep explorations of the languages, cultures, histories, and contemporary issues of Asia and the Asian diaspora in a global context. Drawing from faculty within and beyond the department, our world-class experts are dedicated teacher-scholars whose knowledge spans the past and present of Asia and who are passionate about sharing their experience and insights with curious students.

Asian studies at Vanderbilt emphasizes interdisciplinary learning across the humanities and social sciences, anchored in language study within small-class settings of active learning. Extracurricular cultural events—from K-pop Karaoke to hands-on Chinese and Japanese calligraphy demos—complement classroom learning, but it’s study abroad where real immersive learning comes to life outside the classroom. Most Asian studies majors and minors participate in some kind of study abroad experience in China, Japan, Korea, or India and return with enhanced language skills and deeper cultural knowledge. After studying abroad, students are well-poised to serve as Global Engagement Fellows through the Center for Languages to further leverage their study abroad; some even make contacts for future careers.

Unique in embracing both Asian studies and Asian American studies, our department is on the cutting edge of the field in concept and in practice. We are committed to fostering global citizens whose perspectives are wide, varied, and intelligently informed and whose skills are multifaceted and flexible to navigate an increasingly complex international environment. Our graduates have pursued fascinating careers in international business, law, tech, and government service in the United States and Asia. Others have entered graduate and professional programs, often with an international dimension. In short, regardless of whatever post-graduation path you find (or that finds you), widening your horizons with the study of Asia and its languages multiplies options and opportunities.

I invite you to consider Asian studies as a gateway to whet your intellectual appetite and open exciting pathways you may never have thought existed. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or our Director of Undergraduate Studies if you have any questions or would like to learn more about our department and the lively community of Asia specialists and student groups at Vanderbilt. We very much look forward to having you among us.

Warm regards,

Gerald Figal
Chair, Department of Asian Studies