“Does the Future Belong to China?”
(Newsweek, May 9, 2005)
“Japan's economy: Picking itself up”
(The Economist, February 26, 2006)
(International Herald Tribune, October 16, 2005)
“Anime-ted Japan: Japanese culture vibrates with the energy of anime”
(Christian Science Monitor, June 24, 2005)
Headlines like these dance across the pages of magazines and newspapers in the United States and around the world. Whether or not the future “belongs” to them, China and Japan will be important throughout the 21st century. Your lives will be shaped by their economic and political power. Their pop culture flows around the world, combining in innovative blends with trends from the U.S., Europe and Asia. Ideas from their long histories inspire distinct perspectives on timeless questions in philosophy and religion. Their strength in the sciences and technology offers exciting opportunities for future collaboration and challenges the U.S. to stay abreast of changes to these fields.
Now that you have been accepted to St. Olaf College, you have many exciting decisions to make about which courses to take, which major to pursue, and when and where you might study abroad.
I want to invite you to consider the Asian Conversations program as one part of your St. Olaf experience. Asian Conversations offers a chance for St. Olaf students to explore the culture, history, language and societies of East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and more) while earning multiple General Education (G.E.) credits.
Beginning with the Class of 2011, Asian Conversations will be offered as a sophomore-year option. Students who are studying Chinese or Japanese language will be invited to apply in Spring 2008 for the three-course sequence. Those accepted into the program will embark on a series of linked courses that explore “Journeys through Asia.” While continuing language studies, Asian Conversations students will investigate:
tales told and experiences had by Asian travelers, pilgrims, and migrants, historically and today;
the range of communities and boundaries that have shaped Asia: political, economic, cultural, linguistic, and environmental communities will all be included; and
Asian interpretations of the human condition, from religious, philosophical and literary perspectives.
These themes will be spread across three classes taken one after another during the sophomore year. In the Fall semester, students accepted into the program will take Asian Studies 210, which will introduce the guiding questions for the sequence and alternative frameworks for answering those questions. During Interim, students will enroll in Asian Studies 215, and spend one month in either Shanghai, China, Tokyo, Japan or on the St. Olaf College campus pursuing the same themes through direct conversations with Asian travelers of different backgrounds. During spring semester all Asian Conversations’ students will return to one class, Asian Studies 220, to report on their Interim projects, and to deepen their investigations into the rich conversations about the human experience that have spread throughout Asia.
Asian Conversations has always welcomed students from all majors across campus; recent participants have gone on to majors in including art/art history, biology, history, music, physics, psychology, sociology/anthropology, and of course, Asian Studies. No prior experience with Asian languages or cultures is necessary, although it is certainly welcome.
Intrigued? Then plan to sign-up for Chinese or Japanese language during the fall semester, so you will be ready to join Asian Conversations during your sophomore year. If you want more information about our program and faculty, feel free to contact me during a campus visit, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or by telephone at (507)786-3655. Keep your eyes open for informational meetings once you arrive at campus in the fall – we’ll be looking for you!
Welcome to St. Olaf College!
Katherine Tegtmeyer Pak
Director of Asian Conversations
Freeman Assistant Professor of Asian Politics
Departments of Asian Studies and Political Science