Opportunities in Asian Studies Skip Navigation

Opportunities in Asian Studies

Learn more about the potential opportunities available for those concentrate in Asian Studies.

Is Asian Studies for you?

In the spirit of liberal arts education, Asian Studies provides you with an intellectual space that accommodates and encourages your aspiration to engage with the whole of the place and people, rather than viewing them through a specific disciplinary lense alone. Our premise is that if you want to understand something about Chinese economy, for example, you cannot do so without knowing the country's historical experiences, geographical settings, political dynamics and its relations with other countries, changing social values and realities, evolving language, and so on.

Voices of Alumni

2017 Graduate: What I like the most about Asian studies major is its multidisciplinary approach. Instead of taking classes from only one department, I was able to explore my interests in history, political science, economics, language courses, etc. For example, I took three years of Japanese, Chinese economy, and Asian politics. These courses complement each other and gave me the ability to think in different perspectives and dimensions, which I believe is the very essence of a liberal arts education.

2016 Graduate: As a student of Asian Studies and International Relations at Colgate, I took a course Activist Media, which was incredible. In my research on Chinese activist media, I found that sweet spot where culture and politics collide, which I LOVE. I am now working for a small foreign policy NGO in D.C. whose mission is to strengthen the relationships between the people and governments of the US and Asia.

Student Research

Asian Studies faculy have been working with students on a wide range of topics that deal with Asia, ranging from the analysis of the "China Dream" discourse to the study of multicultural education for ethnic minorities in Vietnam, and to the economic analysis of the Indian handloom industry. See below for some of the past student research.
China Dream: The Art and Rhetoric of Rejuvenation
Sophie Coffman '17, Lampert Institute Fellow 2016, Sponsor: John Crespi (Paper link)
The Determinants and Consequences of Irrational School Choice
Wellin (Emily) Gu '17, Lampert Institute Fellow 2016, Sponsor: Yang Song

Giving families more school choices may not always enhance equality of educational
opportunity because disadvantaged families could make suboptimal school choice for their children. This paper analyzes how student characteristics, especially socioeconomic status (SES), are correlated with their school choice in an urban China setting. We base our main analysis on a cohort of 35,918 students in Changsha, a provincial capital city in China. Results suggest that students with lower academic scores and lower SES are more likely to choose lower quality schools. We also collected over one thousand questionnaires from nine elementary schools and explored potential explanations for the socioeconomic gap in school choice decision efficacy. We found that students with better-educated and higher-income parents are more familiar with school choice process as well as school quality.
Life in a Nuclear Neighborhood: Nuclear Power Plants in South Korea
Angela Jang ('17), Lampert Summer Fellow 2016, Sponsor: Dai Yamamoto

With the introduction of nuclear power plants, host communities have been experiencing a breakdown of traditional culture and an increasing economic dependency on the plants. Scholarly studies, however, rarely examine possibly differentiated and dynamic views among the local residents of these host communities, changing nature of communal organizations, and their livelihood changes, adaptations and challenges in regards to the nuclear power plants. Through the study of the village-wide ancestral worship in Bukmyun, South Korea, I illustrate that the local resident of these host communities are active agents who skillfully maintain their community and community practices despite the challenges posed by the nuclear power plants. Since the nuclear power plant’s introduction into the area, Bukmyun’s village-wide ancestral worship has been experiencing decreasing participants because of the surge of “outsiders,” or
temporary workers, in the area. Despite these challenges, the community has presented three changes to help sustain the village-wide ancestral worship by (1) changing the nominating system of the ritual leaders; (2) decreasing the ritual to once a year rather than twice a year; and (3) by incorporating modern facilities and loosening the “side” rules. Through these three changes, the community lessens the burden for the villagers and the ritual leaders in carrying out the village-wide ancestral ritual. Through this paper, I urge policymakers of regional development to recognize local residents as active agents who are constantly negotiating their values and the changing environment, and develop policies that reflect the actual needs and values of the community.
Contending Narratives on “Comfort Women” in South Korea and Japan
Hassel Kim ('17), Lampert Summer Fellow 2016, Sponsor: David Robinson

This research explores contending narratives on the ‘comfort women’ issue in South Korea and Japan. Applying Soh’s categorization of narratives according to the level of nationalism and feminism voices found in narratives, this research explores not only why divergent views among the two national governments, non-governmental organizations, scholars, and public views on the ‘comfort women’ issue emerged but also how they relate to each other. This research also looks at how different narratives are regenerated and communicated through museums, memorial sites, history textbooks, and the Internet and how they affect public perception of the ‘comfort women’ issue. In sum, this research interprets complicated debates surrounding the ‘comfort women’ issue in South Korea and Japan since its introduction to the public in the 1990s, with a particular focus on the ‘Comfort Women’ Agreement signed by the two governments on December 28th, 2015.
Multicultural Education for Ethnic Minorities in Vietnam: A Case Study in Hoa Binh for the Muong, Thai and H’Mong Ethnic Groups
Anh (Julie) Nguyen ('17), Lamper Summer Fellow 2016, Sponsor: John Palmer

As a multiethnic country, Vietnam has always tried to maintain a national unity while promoting equal rights and opportunities for all ethnic groups. However, it is undeniable that the socioeconomic status and power of the Kinh, the ethnic majority, is prevalent in society while other ethnic minorities are still facing many pressing issues regarding economic development and cultural preservation and are lagging behind in various aspects including education. Therefore, this research seeks to rovide more insights into the education of ethnic minority by utilizing the theoretical framework of multiculturalism and interviewing teachers who work closely with ethnic minority students. This research was conducted in Hoa Binh province where the ethnic minorities account for the majority of the population and interviews were carried out at two different secondary schools, a mainstream school and a boarding school. There is a deficit paradigm present in both schools, though in the mainstream school, the paradigm focuses on financial and geographical obstacles while in the boarding school, it shifts to psychological differences between ethnic minorities and the Kinh. Another common pattern emerges in both school regarding teachers’ perceptions of ethnic relations, that is, whether or not discrimination exists is influenced by the ethnic composition. And finally, most of the multicultural activities center on learning about cultural practices and customs, but not deep understanding of the power dynamics among ethnic groups.
‘Make in India’ and its Economic Impact on the Indian Handloom Sector
Shambhavi Sawhney ('17), Lampert Summer Fellow 2016, Sponsor: Jyoti Khanna

The Indian handloom industry is one of the oldest industries in the country, with its roots from ancient India. Handloom weaving is one of the largest rural activities, second only to agriculture, and provides employment to 43 lakh (4.3 million) workers. It contributes almost 15% to total cloth production in the country. 95% of handlooms in the global market have been produced in India. While the handloom industry is based largely in a domestic set up, it is dispersed, spread across a large number of villages and towns within the country. The five year plans of the Indian government have treated the handlooms sector as rural enterprise and have not offered any direct solutions for the rival of the handlooms. Instead policies like the New Textile Policy of 1985 led to the growth of powerlooms and had a de-skilling effect on the weavers. Apart from this the
handloom sector faces many other challenges like the lack of market demand for their products and a large number of government interventions which have oversimplified the diversity of this sector and have made the weavers dependent, killing any potential entrepreneurial spirit. The Make in India initiative can be a potential uplifter of this sector by creating more, indiscriminate opportunities in the economy. Spillover effects from supporting activities of the government, namely ‘Skill India’, ‘Digital India’ and the ‘Brand India’ are already showing positive results which could prove to be beneficial for the economy. This paper aims to understand the Make in India initiative with respect to the handloom sector sin India and how it might play a positive role in uplifting this sector.