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East Asian Studies

East Asian Studies Director: Elizabeth Morrison (Religion)
Office: Axinn Center at Starr Library 343

East Asian Studies consists of the interdisciplinary study of the civilizations of East Asia, that is, China and Japan as well as Korea and Vietnam. On the one hand, as a cohesive region, East Asia evinces considerable cultural continuity. On the other hand, the various modern nation-states that comprise East Asia differ in language, literature, art, history, philosophy, religion, politics, economics, and social institutions.

As an East Asian Studies major, you will be exposed intensively to the traditions of your country of focus as well as to its contemporary challenges confronted within a regional and global context. You will find your in-depth preparatory training in the principal language and social mores of a selected East Asian national culture complemented by unique perspectives acquired through immersion while studying abroad. 


Introduction to International and Global Studies. Students must take IGST 101 before studying abroad. IGST 0101 is not open to seniors except for those who declared the major as sophomores and spent the fall semester of their junior year abroad. Students who declare their major as a sophomore but have not taken IGST 0101, and plan to study abroad for only one semester must take it in the fall of their junior year prior to going abroad.

Regional specialization. Five courses on East Asia, in at least three departments (at least one of which should be in Anthropology, Economics, Geography, History, Political Science or Sociology). At least three regional courses must be taken at Middlebury. At least three of the regional courses should be exclusively or primarily on the country that is the focus of language study, and at least one should be on East Asia as a region or the East Asian country that is not the focus of language study. See available courses here.

Global Courses. Three global courses from the Global list; only one can be at the 0100 level. These global courses are thematic, trans-regional, emphasize connectivity of places and the circulation of ideas and phenomena. Except for students who study abroad an entire year, these courses must be taken on the Middlebury College campus.

Language Study. Students must become proficient Chinese or Japanese. Students who already have native proficiency in Chinese must fulfill the language requirements for Japanese. Students who already have native proficiency in Japanese must fulfill the language requirements for Chinese.

For Chinese, the language requirement is: (1) CHNS 0101-CHNS 0202 (strongly encouraged to attend Middlebury Chinese Summer School, or take CHNS 0301/0302); (2) one semester at one of the three Middlebury CV Starr Schools Abroad in China; and (3) one, preferably two, of the following: CHNS 0411, 0412, 0425, 0426, OR 0475 upon return from study abroad in China.

The Chairs of the Chinese and Japanese Studies departments or their designees determine what constitutes native proficiency by evaluating students individually through interviews or tests.

Study Abroad. Students must study abroad on one of Middlebury’s approved study abroad programs in East Asia for at least one semester. Study abroad must be in the language of study at Middlebury. Students who study abroad for one semester may count up to two courses toward the major and those who study abroad for a full year may count up to four. Major credit will be granted, pending approval, upon the student’s return from abroad. For regional courses, approval is granted by the track director and for global courses by the IGS director. Students should share the syllabi and all written work for all courses they wish to count with the track or program director, respectively.

Our majors attend Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad, hosted by local universities, in the following locations:

Many majors also attend the college's summer schools in Chinese, Japanese, and/or Korean.

For the class of 2022 and 2022.5 only: in lieu of study abroad, students will take a minimum of two additional language courses at the 300 level and above.

Senior Program. The senior program consists of: (1) a senior IGST seminar at 400-level or with permission of IGS director, a thematic senior seminar in a department  and (2) an upper-level course, preferably two, in the language of emphasis after returning from abroad.

Honors. Students who seek to graduate with Honors may elect to write a two-term senior honors thesis. Students are eligible to write an honors thesis if they have a 3.5 GPA or better in all courses that count for the major. These include all language courses, all regional courses, all global courses, all courses taken abroad, and all courses with an IGST designation. Thesis grades do not count in the calculation of the GPA for honors. Thesis guidelines and procedures can be found at go/igsthesis.

To assist you in tracking the completion of your requirements, please meet with your advisor to complete and submit the advising wizard for your track.