Asian Studies

College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies

Program Description

Our Asian Studies Program geographically encompasses East Asia (China/Taiwan, Japan, the Koreas, and Mongolia), Southeast Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam), and South Asia (Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka). We offer in depth examinations of particular countries while also analyzing transnational issues that connect Asia, other regions, and the rest of the world including the United States.

The major is designed to provide students with a coherent introduction to the language, history, and culture of these Asian societies and to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of the major social and political forces at work in the region, supported by appropriate language training. Graduates of the program either continue their studies at graduate institutions or utilize their knowledge and training through employment in government, business,  education, or the non-profit sector relating to this increasingly important region of the world.

The minors offer students a framework to explore one or more Asian societies from an interdisciplinary perspective. It is particularly relevant for students in various academic or applied disciplines who have a regional interest in Asia.

Degree Programs

BA in Asian Studies

BA in Asian Studies (Chinese Studies)

BA in Asian Studies (Japanese Studies)

BA in Asian Studies (Korean Studies)

Minor in Asian Studies

Minor in Korean Studies

Minor in South and Southeast Asian Studies

Special Features

  • The program comprises faculty in departments such as Anthropology, Art, Education, Ethnic Studies, History, Humanities and Religious Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Women's and Gender Studies, and World Languages and Literatures.
  • The program strongly encourages students to expand their horizons through training in Asian languages and study abroad opportunities.
  • Our major can help you develop tangible skills: language ability, adaptability, open-mindedness, care & compassion, cultural awareness, knowledge of the region, and more. It is also a program that is well-suited to partnering with your current pathway, earning a credential with a second major, or a minor in Asian Studies, Chinese Studies, Korean Studies, or South and Southeast Asian Studies.

Contact Information

James Rae, Director
Amador Hall 452A
(916) 278-4440

Raghu Trichur, Vice Director
Mendocino Hall 4013
(916) 278-5832

Rodrigo da Silva, Administrative Support Coordinator




















How to Read Course Descriptions

ASIA 1.     Asia in the World Today. 3 Units

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: GE AREA D

Term Typically Offered: Fall only

This course provides a foundation in the area studies discipline of Asian Studies as a distinct thematic and geographic area of inquiry. Offers a brief introduction to trending issues in East, Southeast, and South Asia, such as migration, human rights, religion, development, food, film, music, etc. through the lens of art, geography, history, culture, economics, society, religion, and politics.

ASIA 96.     The Way of Chanoyu: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Japanese Tea Gathering. 3 Units

Term Typically Offered: Fall, Spring

This course traces the development of a multifaceted cultural practice integrating architecture, garden design, art, painting, and calligraphy into a carefully constructed hospitality ritual. Students explore multiple aspects of Japanese Chado via hands-on learning including aesthetic, economic, scientific, socio-political and cultural dimensions associated with tea. The course is taught in the Nakatani Tea Room, including weekly classroom lectures and discussions, demonstrations, on-line learning modules, a group project, and typically, a day field trip to San Francisco.

Field trip(s) may be required.

ASIA 110.     Anthropology of Contemporary Asia. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): ANTH 146 or instructor permission

This course examines contemporary Asia as an articulation of intersecting historical, cultural, political and economic processes. The course will focus on postcolonial developments and critically explore the manner in which process of globalization and neoliberal strategies embed themselves within, and the responses they elicit from societies across Asia.

ASIA 111.     Asian Diaspora and Migration. 3 Units

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: GE AREA D, Race & Ethnicity Graduation Requirement (RE)

Term Typically Offered: Fall only

Survey of the social, political, cultural, and economic factors surrounding contemporary transnational migration across and beyond Asia. Presents a comparative analysis of the impact of colonialism and the Cold War on Asian diaspora and engages with theoretical debates in migration studies. Examines the intersectionality of class, gender, and ethnicity upon immigrant communities in the U.S. and around the world.

ASIA 113.     Nationalism in Asia. 3 Units

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Humanities (Area C2)

Term Typically Offered: Fall only

Studies the origins, dynamics, and impact of the role of nationalism in modern Asia. Uses a global and comparative approach to examine national identity and nationalism in Asia, the shift to the modern nation-state system, and post-colonial challenges. Surveys nationalist thought within their social, cultural, historical, and political contexts, scrutinizing factors such as ethnicity, race, gender, and historical memory in shaping nationalist sentiment.

ASIA 134.     History of Modern Korea. 3 Units

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Humanities (Area C2)

Term Typically Offered: Fall only

Traces the historical development of modern Korea since the colonial era of the late 19th century. Explores historiographies, theoretical debates, and films dealing with the following themes: national ideology and national bodies, economic and political contentions, modern education and scientific management, class and gender formation, capitalism and urbanization, colonial migration and cosmopolitanism, anti-colonialism, and socialist/revolutionary thought.

ASIA 135.     Contemporary Korean Culture. 3 Units

Term Typically Offered: Spring only

This course provides a comprehensive understanding of Korean culture and society through the analysis of contemporary Korean popular media. By critically examining the particular cultural phenomenon of the Korean Wave, this course upholds various Korean popular media (film drama, documentaries, and music) as significant forms of visual culture, which reflect as well as shape the reality of people's everyday lives both within and outside Korea.

ASIA 136.     Korean Development and Behavior. 3 Units

This course examines critical issues in Korean human development and behavior with particular attention given to current theoretical perspectives within a fast developing society. Topics include identity, cognitive development, mental health, tiger parenting, gender roles, socio-emotional development, body image, and transracial adoptions. This course integrates an interdisciplinary approach and includes indigenous discourse on Confucianism and Eastern and Western thought to understand the underlying processes of the Korean heritage person as an individual and as a member of a larger society.

ASIA 137.     North Korean Politics and Society. 3 Units

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: GE AREA D

Term Typically Offered: Fall only

Examines the unique type of North Korean socialism, nationhood, and 'peoplehood', and provides a new historical and theoretical understanding of militarization, socialist transition in a global economy, social hierarchy, political leadership, and foreign policy. Explores theories of state and socialism, historical narratives, ethnographies, firsthand witness stories, journalistic analysis, documentaries, and films made in and beyond North Korea.

ASIA 140.     Modern East Asian Cinema. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): Junior standing; a WPJ Portfolio score OR ENGL 109M or ENGL 109W

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Writing Intensive Graduation Requirement (WI), Arts (Area C1)

Term Typically Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer

Survey of the development of cinema in Asia, focusing primarily on cinematic masterpieces from China, Hong Kong, and Japan. Focuses on directors, actors, and studios that left a lasting mark on cinema history. Also focuses on how the Asian aesthetic sense differs from the Hollywood norm.

ASIA 146.     US-China Relations. 3 Units

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Humanities (Area C2)

Term Typically Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer

This course explores the historical foundation of US-China relations, tracing from 19th century encounters through world wars, ideological confrontation, rapprochement, and into the contemporary era. Focus on international and political dimension of diplomatic and strategic interests, also explores cultural and social connections through trade, investment, migration, and tourism.

Cross-listed: POLS 146.

ASIA 151.     Genocide in Southeast Asia. 3 Units

Term Typically Offered: Fall, Spring

Survey of human rights abuses and genocides that have occurred in post-colonial Southeast Asia. Focuses on mass killings in Indonesia and Cambodia and communal riots often targeting the ethnic Chinese community, religious minorities, or highland peoples like the Hmong. Topics include cultural genocide, ideological pressure, and ethnic intolerance. An interdisciplinary literature will interpret the causes and conditions while introducing students to the diverse societies and cultures of Southeast Asia.

ASIA 190.     Travel Study in Asia. 1 - 6 Units

Term Typically Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer

A faculty-led study abroad course to Asia. Students will learn about one or more Asian countries through living and traveling in the country(ies), classroom instruction, and field trips to various sites. Fee course.

Fee course.

Field trip(s) may be required.

ASIA 195.     Internship: Asian Studies. 1 - 3 Units

Term Typically Offered: Fall, Spring

Supervised work experience on topics related to the study of Asia's art, culture, economics, geography, environment, politics, and government and social issues.

Credit/No Credit

ASIA 198.     Modernity and Globalization in Asia. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): Junior standing; a WPJ Portfolio score OR ENGL 109M or ENGL 109W

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Writing Intensive Graduation Requirement (WI), Humanities (Area C2)

Term Typically Offered: Spring only

Survey of the history, politics, culture, and economy across Asia. Engages with key topics that have shaped Asia as of today and introduces the rise of the modern, building of nation-states, and globalization. Examines the impact of colonialism, imperialism, cold war politics, developmentalism, and global concerns across and beyond Asian countries.

ASIA 199.     Special Problems. 1 - 3 Units

Term Typically Offered: Fall, Spring

Individual research projects, including directed readings, under the direction of an Asian Studies faculty person.

Credit/No Credit