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East Asian Studies is an affiliated program with the Division of Humanities at Brandeis University.  Please click on Humanities to view other happenings.


The East Asian Studies Program (EAS) is an interdisciplinary program that seeks to give the student broad yet intimate knowledge of East Asian civilization.

It can be taken either as a major or a minor.  A core element of the program is the requirement of an East Asian Language, providing the basis for postgraduate study or careers relating to East Asia. 

Learning Goals

East Asian Studies promotes in-depth knowledge about the traditions, cultures, and contemporary societies of a diverse and dynamic region that plays an ever more prominent role on the global stage. The Major focuses particular attention on China and Japan, but Southeast Asia and Korea are also part of the Major’s coverage. Students are exposed to a wide range of disciplinary approaches to the study of East Asia, including Anthropology, Art History, Economics, History, Language and Literature, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, and Music History. Besides being interdisciplinarity, EAS emphasizes a broad temporal scope, cultivating interests from ancient times to the present. Students completing the Major are expected to become conversant about a wide range of topics related to East Asia and to attain basic competence in at least one East Asian language.

As a regional studies program, EAS encourages participation in global learning, offering non-Eurocentric approaches to the Creative Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Through exposure to East Asia, students sharpen their critical skills regarding insights and the production of knowledge beyond Western traditions. The objects of inquiry include poetic styles, artistic techniques, intellectual trends, gender constructs, political orders, and economic systems. While understanding East Asia in its own context is a primary goal, the Major also seeks to comprehend the particularities of East Asia in relation to European and American ideas and influences where relevant. The goal is to develop dynamic and nuanced concepts about the role of East Asia in the world.

Through the ages, many parts of East Asia have had varied and extensive contact. By offering courses on different geographic sites and cultures, sometimes in a comparative or interactive context, EAS cultivates a deep appreciation for trans-Asiatic and intra-Asiatic forms of knowledge and action. Co-operation, conflicts, and interdependencies are vital parts of the study of significant historical and evolving developments across the region.

Core Skills: A student choosing the EAS major is expected to achieve the following skills:

  • Master the terminology and methodology of the component disciplines,
  • Develop proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing at least one East Asian language,
  • Examine phenomena in specific historical, cultural, economic, and political contexts,
  • Use primary and secondary sources to produce original arguments and analyses,
  • Think critically about visual, literary, and intellectual artifacts and documents,
  • Readily make connections from comparative and transcultural perspectives.

Knowledge: An EAS major is expected to acquire the following types of knowledge (encompassing the range of disciplines):

  • Broad understanding of traditional and contemporary East Asia from local, international, and comparative perspectives,
  • East Asian experiences in History, Economics, Politics, and Culture,
  • Robust appreciation of the contribution and relationship of East Asia to the world.

Social Awareness: A Major in EAS should:

  • appreciate cultural and ethnic tolerance and inclusiveness,
  • cultivate relations with peers and faculty who come from diverse backgrounds.

Upon Graduating: A Brandeis EAS major will be prepared to:

  • Pursue professions where knowledge of East Asian languages and culture is valuable (e.g. education, diplomacy, international finance and business, journalism, museology, and translation),
  • Embark upon graduate study in a number of academic disciplines,
  • Build bridges between American and East Asian communities or between communities within East Asia.