Asian Conversations Program Exploring Asia Through Dialogue St. Olaf College Northfield, Minnesota Outline Overview of the program Program Classes Language Continuing Studies Links Overview
Exploring Asia Through Dialogue
St. Olaf College
The Asian Conversations program is a new and interdisciplinary way to begin your liberal arts education. You can obtain three of your St. Olaf general requirements by taking core courses with a focus on Asia. Through this program, you and nineteen other students will study and investigate a variety of subjects by exploring the languages and cultures of Asia both on campus and with an opportunity to study abroad.
This first year seminar introduces you to East Asian cultures through the family. Contemporary novels, autobiographies, and short stories bring out the struggles between traditional ideals and modern pressures that East Asians face in defining themselves within the family. This course also develops your writing skills to prepare you for the rest of your college coursework.
This second course is a history seminar that explores the impact that the West and East Asia have had on one another in sustained contact since the 16th century until the end of World War II. There will be readings and discussion on the impact of missionaries, the economic role of trade, and political and military challenges of Western expansionism beginning with the Opium War.
In the third course of the series, you will work with interdisciplinary questions such as: What is the meaning of rice symbolism in Chinese and Japanese literature or ritual traditions? What is the economic role of rice in East Asia today? How has modernization changed the meaning of rice?
This is the fourth and optional course in the Asian conversations series. During the January Interim of your second year, you can travel to China and Japan with a St. Olaf faculty member and focus on the “National Identity” as experienced in the region. In traveling to sites in Shanghai, Beijing, Nagasaki, Kyoto, and Nara, you interact with peers in the Asian language that you studied. This is an optional course, but Asian Conversations students will be given priority in registering.
Along with the Asian Conversations classes, you will be expected to take one of two Asian languages offered. There are numerous study abroad options for further study in both Chinese and Japanese.
If the Asian Conversations program has piqued your interests, you can continue with the major in Asian Studies. St. Olaf offers a variety of classes about Asia, as well as the option of independent study or research with faculty beyond the offered courses. Classes range from religion and philosophy to economics. Check the course listings on the Asian Studies homepage for more. Individualized majors are also an option through the Center for Integrative Studies.