Pudong skyline, Shanghai, ChinaPudong skyline, Shanghai, China

New Minor Looks Eastward

Asia, the largest continent, is home to more than half the world’s people. The rapid development of its two largest countries, China and India, is reshaping international politics and economics. The new Asian studies interdisciplinary minor, available in fall 2010, is designed to provide students with the knowledge and experience necessary to succeed in the emerging global network.

“We already have many Asia-related courses and projects on campus,” said Michael C. Lazich, associate professor of history. “Many faculty and students have visited China and Southeast Asia, and the Center for China Studies has been instrumental in bringing many Chinese scholars here.” Lazich, an expert in Chinese history, is the coordinator of the minor, which will be housed in the History and Social Studies Education Department.

“Many students will enter professions in which they will be interacting with Asians or carrying on business or research in Asian countries,” said Lazich. “The minor is, therefore, a valuable addition to their programs.”

To earn the 18-credit minor, students must complete an Asian language requirement, two electives from a choice of six core courses, and two electives from a wide-ranging choice of Asia-related courses.

Chinese is the only Asian language currently taught at Buffalo State. Students who have completed 6 hours of study of another Asian language such as Japanese, Korean, Thai, or Hindi may be able to use those credits to satisfy the language requirement. Another possible substitute is 6 credit hours of service learning or other programs of study in Asia.

“Language study or a direct experience of an Asian culture is crucial to help students understand a different worldview,” said Lazich. “Buffalo State has been promoting service learning for several years, and several Asia-related service-learning projects are in the works. However, any credit-bearing experience led by a faculty member in an Asian country could fulfill the requirement.” Lazich noted that business majors, led by Dr. Christine Lai, recently had an opportunity to visit China for several weeks to better understand life in China. He himself led a study tour of China, during which students visited such places as Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai.

The core elective courses are Geography of Asia (GEG 360); Introduction to Asian Art (FAR 375); History of India (HIS 307); History of East Asia: The Traditional Era (HIS 310); Modern History of Japan and Korea (HIS 320); Modern History of China (HIS 338); and Patterns of History in Southeast Asia (HIS 460W). The two remaining electives can be selected from courses offered by the Anthropology, Dietetics and Nutrition, History and Social Studies Education, Fine Arts, Geography and Planning, and Philosophy and Humanities departments.

“Students have the option of focusing on one particular region or one particular field of scholarship, such as history, fine arts, or sociology,” said Lazich. “This minor is flexible enough to give students a chance to prepare for graduate work in Asian studies or to simply broaden their understanding of Asia as an alternative field of study.”