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Mission Statement

The Asian Studies Department is Vanderbilt’s home for inquiry into Asian languages, literatures, histories, and cultures. It is also where the study of Asian America and global Asian diasporas takes place. Traditional Asian cultures 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 globalized world. Through our research, teaching, and service, the Asian Studies Department faculty promotes a crucial awareness on the Vanderbilt campus of the diversity, power, and importance of Asian cultural productions.

Kim Jee Woon Dinner with Faculty

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, regional and global—through intensive 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 globally 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 wider faculty includes scholars who examine multiple manifestations of Asian cultures from the perspective of diverse humanistic and social science disciplines.

Hindi and Urdu students play cricket

Majors in the program augment language study with courses that focus on the history and culture of their chosen concentration, as well as courses that explore the inter-regional and global-comparative connections among and beyond Asian countries. The program actively encourages majors to gain experience in Asia through study abroad programs. The program also maintains an honors track that gives advanced seniors the opportunity to produce original research with one-on-one guidance from a faculty member. With this strong foundation in language, history, and culture, Vanderbilt’s Asian Studies majors are well-prepared to pursue professional careers involving Asia (such as business, government service, or law), or excel in the graduate-level study of an Asia-related topic.

Gansu, People's Republic of China

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 program 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.