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Mission Statement

The Asian Studies Department is Vanderbilt’s home for inquiry into Asian languages, societies, and cultures. Asian civilizations have produced monuments of human thought and creativity that are the equal of any produced elsewhere, and contemporary Asian societies are among the most dynamic in today’s globalizing world. Through our research, teaching, and service, the Asian Studies faculty promotes a crucial awareness on the Vanderbilt campus of the diversity, power, and importance of Asia and its peoples.

Our internationally renowned faculty is firmly dedicated to Vanderbilt’s mission of being a leader in the production of original research. We explore Asian societies, past and present, through intensive and highly specialized engagement with primary sources in Asian languages and media. At the same time, we maintain a theoretically informed awareness of the ways in which ideas about Asia have been constructed and deployed in the modern world. This commitment to critical research serves as the direct inspiration for our teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

We strongly believe that the study of language and culture is the foundation for any serious intellectual engagement with Asia. Our highly trained language instructors are dedicated to teaching with the most advanced methods, and students in the program achieve the highest levels of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing of the target language. Our faculty explores Asian societies and cultures in many forms, encompassing classical and modern literature, artistic and religious practices, history, politics, environment studies, and contemporary media.

Majors in the program augment language study with courses on Asian societies and cultures, as well as courses that explore the inter-regional connections among Asian countries and/or global comparative analyses. The program actively encourages majors to gain experience in Asia through study abroad programs. The Department also maintains an Honors Program that gives advanced seniors the opportunity to produce original research on Asia with one-on-one guidance from a faculty member. With this strong foundation in studies of language, society, and culture, Vanderbilt’s Asian Studies majors are well-prepared to pursue professional careers involving Asia in business, government service, or law, or excel in the graduate-level study of an Asia-related topic.

The Asian Studies Department maintains close relations with Asian and Asian-American organizations on campus, and partners with them to publicize their activities. Throughout the year, the Department invites scholars to give public lectures about Asian history, culture, and society. Finally, by researching and developing grant opportunities, and by fostering connections between our university and academic institutions throughout Asia, the program plays a crucial role in the internationalization of the campus and the emergence of Vanderbilt as a global leader in research and education.