With 30 percent of the world's land — more than all the Americas combined — and seven of the world's 10 most populous nations, Asia is the planet's largest, most peopled and arguably most diverse continent. It sprawls nearly halfway across the globe, merging with Europe in the West, bordering Africa in the Southwest, and stretching a finger nearly to Alaska in the East. It is bound in some quarters by the world's most deeply rooted traditions and driven in others by the most futuristic technology. Hamilton's Asian Studies Program begins with the conviction that a real understanding of this immense human tapestry requires an interdisciplinary approach to the continent's cultures, languages and society.
Balancing the most enduring liberal arts principles with innovative contemporary scholarship, the Asian Studies Program stresses the importance of Asia's cultural traditions as well as its modern social and political transformations. The third focus of the program is language study. Proficiency in a major Asian language is critical not only for communicating across cultural lines, but also for a more complete understanding of the region's identity and expression.
While Hamilton's East Asian Languages and Literatures Department focuses primarily on language proficiency in Chinese and Japanese, the Asian Studies Program provides a broad, interdisciplinary approach that also includes language study. Majors in Asian studies develop their language skills through at least the intermediate level as they do coursework in one or more of these fields: anthropology, art, comparative literature, East Asian languages and literatures, government, history, religious studies and theatre. The program also offers a minor in South Asian studies, which focuses primarily on the religion and art of India.