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Majors in Chinese, Japanese, Korean added to University’s offerings
February 15, 2011Tweet
The Department of Asian and Asian American Studies (DAAAS) has received approval to offer majors in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
The three new majors will allow the department to further enhance its ever more popular programs and continue to grow, according to David Stahl, associate professor and department chair. “We’ve received simultaneous approval to offer a master’s degree (beginning in 2012), which is the first graduate program in Asian and Asian American Studies in SUNY,” he said.
Stahl said students will be able to sign up for the new majors this semester. He hopes to register about 10 students per major initially, with double or triple growth within five years time.
The new majors bolster the foundation already established when the Asian and Asian American Studies Program became a department in 2008. “With the establishment of the DAAAS, we became a kind of model,” Stahl said. “We’re now productively integrated, combining Asian studies and Asian American studies into one program and department. In most institutions, these two areas of study are separate, and we’re trying to integrate. It’s an ongoing challenge and experiment to find common ground.”
Students will now have more options within the DAAAS, which currently offers a major in Asian and Asian American Studies organized along four different tracks: Asian American and Diaspora Studies, Asian Specialization, Asian Comparative, and South Asia. All students in the AAAS major take three common core courses including a major seminar, and complete additional courses in their specific tracks. Students declaring the new Chinese, Japanese and Korean majors will not be required to take the three common courses because they must take language courses up through the third-year level, but they will be required to take the major seminar.
The addition of these majors, and the interdisciplinary aspects of the DAAAS, are strong indications of Binghamton University’s commitment to global education, Interim President C. Peter Magrath said.
“The future of the United States is tied 100 percent into what’s going on around the world,” he said. “Improving our understanding of Asian languages and cultures will help our students − and Binghamton University – make our mark on the international level.”
Though the department’s growth may have been a long time coming for those directly involved, the department has transformed over the past few years, thanks in part to funding it sought and received from the Freeman Foundation, the Korea Foundation and, long ago, the Japan Foundation, to support creation of faculty positions and curriculum development.
“A number of Asian countries have created foundations,” said John Chaffee, distinguished service professor of history and Asian and Asian American studies. “There is a huge amount of interest nationwide and we’re riding a great wave of interest in China. We happen to be well placed for these trends.”
“The infrastructure we have for these programs has grown so much over the last four to five years in terms of tenured faculty and others to teach languages,” said Don Nieman, dean of Harpur College of Arts and Sciences. “We’ve developed strength in languages, but have also capitalized on what we do in literature and the cultural aspects of the majors.”
“We had been wanting majors and minors for years but needed a number of faculty to do so,” Stahl said. “Now, we’re very well covered with faculty to teach. We have stability.”
“Without disinvesting in European languages, we have broadened out to develop real strength in Japanese, Chinese and Korean − a strength that goes beyond teaching the basic languages, because we can’t have languages without the cultural component,” Nieman added.
With the addition of the three majors and a master’s program, the DAAAS has set its sights on additional growth. “In the long run, we will propose a PhD in all of the different areas we’re involved with,” said Stahl, as well as a five-year BA/MA program.
The Confucius Institute of Chinese Opera and the Institute for Asia and Asian Disaporas add to the depth of offerings on campus that can fuel such growth, Chaffee said.
“The way we really stand out is our insistence in bringing together Asian studies with Asian American studies and the diasporic aspect,” he said. “We’re not unique, but we’re very unusual in pulling these together. It’s a very attractive element and a way to be able to set ourselves off distinctively.
“We’re hoping to create options and give students a wide choice by looking at parts of Asia in relationship to each other,” Chaffee said.