East Asian Studies
East Asian Studies explores the cultures, history and politics of China, Japan and Korea. By studying these globally significant economies through coursework, language labs and study abroad opportunities, you’ll gain an appreciation for the region’s complex traditions, cultural resources and historic contributions to richen your future career in architecture, business, writing, education, history and more.
As part of the six required courses (18 credits), students complete ASIA 100, Foundations of East Asian Studies; two semesters of an Asian Language (Mandarin Chinese and Japanese are taught on campus; Korean may be transferred in); two elective courses, one from the Social Sciences and one from the Humanities/Arts; and an interdisciplinary capstone project, ASIA 450, Colloquium in Asian Studies. Study abroad courses may be substituted for campus courses with the approval of the EAS Minor Advisor.
Program of Study
The East Asian Studies program offers students the opportunity to broaden their perspectives as global citizens, as they learn about an important part of the world through courses, lectures, films, performances, field trips, and study abroad. A range of courses in the humanities, arts, social sciences, and business explore East Asia with a primary focus on China, Japan, and Korea, giving some attention to Vietnam. Options in history, international relations, and international business or communication are complemented by courses in philosophy, literature, theatre, music, and art history. Students may study Mandarin Chinese through the advanced level, or beginning Japanese language, with continuing work as independent study. Trips to local museums and theatre events are rounded out with campus performances, films, and lectures by prominent scholars. Faculty have conducted short-term study abroad courses in both China and Japan, allowing students to immerse themselves in these cultures. For the capstone course for the minor, students undertake intensive research across at least two disciplines. Four RWU alumni are currently teaching in China and Japan, extending their learning in the best possible ways, as they share their own language and culture while making life-long friends in the transformative experience of living and working in East Asia.
Students in the East Asian Studies minor complete one year of an East Asian language. Courses in Chinese (Mandarin) and Japanese are offered on campus; students may transfer in credits in Korean if completed at another university.
Study of Mandarin Chinese is offered through Advanced level; students may also declare a core concentration and minor in Chinese language. Students who need placement level testing should see the chair of the Modern Languages department in Global Heritage Hall for information.
Courses are sequenced; in order to move on to the next level, students must complete courses with a grade of C or higher. Except for CHN 350, Advanced Topics, courses are not open to native speakers of Mandarin.
CHN 101 Elementary Chinese I (no prerequisite); offered Fall semesters
CHN 102 Elementary Chinese II (continuation of 101); offered Spring semesters
CHN 201 Intermediate Chinese I (offered Fall semesters)
CHN 202 Intermediate Chinese II (offered Spring semesters)
CHN 311 Advanced Chinese Conversation (offered Fall semesters)
CHN 350 Advanced Topics (Various topics, Special offerings)
Japanese language courses at RWU are taught by a part-time adjunct instructor and listed under the Language (LANG) prefix in the schedule of classes. Classes are distinguished by course title and section number. Currently, only first-year Japanese is taught; with sufficient continuing enrollments, an intermediate course may be scheduled.
LANG 430 Japanese Language and Culture I
LANG 430 Japanese Language and Culture II
Students enrolled in the East Asian Studies minor may use credits earned through study abroad programs toward completion of the minor, with approval of the EAS advisor, Prof. Debra Mulligan (History). RWU faculty have taken students to both China and to Japan on short-term programs in which students have earned three credits or six credits, depending on the program. These have run in early summer or during the January winter term. There is no guarantee that a program will run in any given year, as programs are dependent on the availability of the faculty and on the number of students who enroll.
Alternately, students may work through the Study Abroad program in the Spiegel Center for Global and International Programs (GHH 116) to locate program options in Asia run RWU affiliated organizations and universities. These programs can allow for a full semester of study in the host country.
Partnerships and Affiliations
Since initiating its East Asian Studies program in 2009, Roger Williams University faculty and administrators have developed a number of short- and long-term collaborations and partnerships with institutions in East Asia and with Asia-related entities in the United States. Through these initiatives, our faculty and students have undertaken research and participated in conferences or internships abroad, while international students are able to participate in short-term cultural immersion programs on the Roger Williams Campus. The RWU Spiegel Center for International Programs has been instrumental in creating, promoting, and providing funding for these initiatives. The university administration, including the president, provost, and deans, have been instrumental in supporting development of these programs.
As part of a two-year Department of Education Title VI UISFL grant to develop East Asian Studies at Roger Williams University, the two co-directors of the program, Prof. Mulligan and Zhou, and Associate Dean Adams, held meetings with faculty and administrators at Beijing Foreign Studies University in 2010. In an extended third year of the grant, five faculty members and the associate dean met with representatives at the University of Shizuoka and other Shizuoka campuses in Japan (2012). The Spiegel Center for Global and International Programs provides outreach to East Asian institutions and works with individual faculty members in developing collaborations.
Biology Research. In 2009, Dr. Tom Sorger was joined by four RWU students on an exploratory trip to meet with biologists at Xiamen University in China to consider possible research collaborations. In 2013, two of Dr. Sorger’s students presented a poster outlining their research at the International Conference on Marine Pollution and Ecotoxicology in Hong Kong. Most recently, Dr. Sorger has been working with Dr. Paul Shin of the Department of Biology and Chemistry at the City University of Hong Kong to establish a collaborative partnership to study the loss of diversity of species harvested as seafood, now endangered and subject to illegal fishing. Inhabiting the sediment in shallow coastal waters most susceptible to ocean warming and pollution, the Asian lancelet serve as an indicator species for environmental stressors, similar to parallel situations on the coast of Rhode Island. Faculty and student research will determine the range of adaptive responses to essential and trace metals.
Architecture Internships. The Cummings School of Architecture has established connections that have allowed architecture students to participate in internship programs with firms in Shanghai, China.
Yokohama National University Exchange Program. In the summer of 2012, a Memorandum of Agreement was established between Roger Williams University and Yokohama National University, Yokohama, Japan, to create opportunities for students and faculty members at both universities to participate in tuition exchange and cooperative research programs. Students from Japan have the opportunity to study at RWU and RWU students have the opportunity to study in Japan for one academic year through this exchange program.
Kochi University, Japan. After a visit to RWU, Kochi University officials invited an RWU team of one administrator and one student to Kochi in spring 2014 to experience and evaluate their new English course modules, part of their plan to develop semester exchange programs with U.S. universities.
Summer Global Institutes. The Spiegel Center for Global and International Programs runs a number of Summer Global Institutes for international students. RWU Cultural Immersion programs for university-level English language learners combine intensive academic classroom activities with field experiences, including visits to local and regional sites of cultural, economic, historical, and recreational interest. Throughout these programs, participants practice interpersonal skills in English through supported dialogue opportunities and engage in activities designed to increase academic English language proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Since 2013, RWU has designed and implemented customized programs for Shizuoka University, Japan, and Wuhan University of Science and Technology (WUST), China.
Visiting Scholars. Roger Williams University has hosted several scholars from China over the last several years. These scholars are supported by grants from the Chinese government that allow them to conduct research and visit classes at RWU.
Study Abroad. See the EAS section on Study Abroad for information regarding RWU student participation in study abroad programs.
Roger Williams University maintains an institutional membership with ASIANet and individual memberships with the Asian Studies Development Program (University of Hawai’i/East West Center) and the Japan Studies Association. RWU faculty have presented papers at the international conferences sponsored by these organizations and have been selected to participate in summer faculty development workshops in Honolulu, thus continuing to share and to expand their expertise in East Asian Studies. Our faculty are eligible to apply for grant opportunities offered by these organizations.
The Black Ships Festival is an annual event undertaken every summer by the sister cities of Newport, Rhode Island, the birthplace of Commodore Perry, and Shimoda, Japan. Roger Williams has hosted delegations from Shimoda and Shizuoka Prefecture during the festivals and has been able to send a delegate to the complementary festival in Japan.