Asian Studies


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By working closely with other academic departments, Asian Studies offers a wide variety of courses that are designed to acquaint students with the history, institutions, religions, cultures and languages of Asia. Majors and minors establish firm foundations for further study.

Asian Studies students are encouraged to participate in the Colleges' off-campus programs in China, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The program offers an interdisciplinary major, a B.A., and an interdisciplinary minor.

Learning Outcomes

A senior Asian Studies major will be able to demonstrate:

  1. A multidisciplinary perspective centered on Asia.
  2. Foundational abilities in one or more Asian languages, including appropriate proficiencies in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
  3. An understanding of current and historical cultural, social, geographical, and political diversity within Asia.
  4. The ability to plan and carry out scholarly research and give a scholarly presentation on an Asian topic in English.


If you'd like to view a full listing of our course options in Asian Studies or any other subject, please visit the Online Course Catalogue.

Click for the Course Catalogue


Requirements for the Major (B.A.)

interdisciplinary, 12 courses

Four courses in one Asian language. (Students exempted from this requirement by passing a proficiency test permitting them to enter the third year or above of an Asian language must still complete 12 courses including two courses in Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, or Vietnamese at a higher level.) The departmental introductory course: ASN 101 Foundations of Asian Civilizations; at least two core courses on Asia in the social sciences division; at least two core courses on Asia from the humanities division that are not language courses; at least two Asian Studies electives; and the departmental capstone course: ASN 401 Senior Colloquium.

Requirements for the Minor

interdisciplinary, 7 courses

At least one year of an Asian language (normally two courses). Students may be exempted from this requirement by passing a proficiency test permitting them to enter the second year or above of an Asian language. Students who take advantage of this exemption still must complete at least seven courses in Asian studies for the minor. The departmental introductory course: ASN 101 Foundations of Asian Civilization; at least one social science course on Asia; at least one humanities course on Asia; at least two Asian Studies electives. At least one course on Asia must be at the 300 or 400 level.


Our students choose from a variety of introductory and advanced courses, each designed to immerse students in Asian language, literature, art and culture.

Below, you'll find a sampling of some of our most popular classes, as well as suggestions for making Asian Studies a part of your larger interdisciplinary experience at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

ASN 101 Foundations of Asian Civilizations


Address some of the fundamental concepts of Chinese, Indian and Japanese cultures and then trace how these important transitions interacted with the 'West' in the 18th to the 20th centuries. Narrow your focus a bit and enroll in HIST 298 Exploring Modern China, where you will examine the fate of the 'Chinese' imperial system and the country's efforts to stay a viable "modern" nation state.

ASN 231 Tibetan Mandala Painting


Become immersed in Tibetan art and culture by studying traditional Tibetan Buddhist painting and mandala construction while learning about the historic background and current utilization of Tibetan Buddhist art. Enroll in ART 253 Buddhist Art and Architecture, and examine the arts and architecture associated with Buddhism from its beginnings in India to its dissemination to Southeast Asia and along the Silk Road to East Asia.

ASN 342 Chinese Cinema: Gender, Politics and Social Change in Contemporary China


Develop your ability to analyze visual images from both Chinese and mulitcultural perspectives. Through the lens of Chinese film, students will better understand issues such as gender, family, tradition, custom and politics in China, while at the same time become familiar with new cultural and social movement in China. Broaden your knowledge of mainstream and independent films by enrolling in ENG 368 Film and Ideology and study the ways in which films respond to contemporary debates.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.