Why study Asia? Asia is home to the majority of the world's population. The peoples of Asia have produced some of the world's most ancient and sophisticated cultures, many of which continue to thrive in the 21st century. Today Asia plays a major role in shaping the global environment—economic, political, natural—that we all share. The growing influence of Asia on the global scene has led some to suggest that the twenty-first century will be an Asian century, in which the civilizations of Asia recapture the preeminence on the world stage that they once enjoyed prior to the age of Western dominance.
This sense of dynamism can be seen in many Asian countries: China with the world's largest population, and the fastest growing economy in recorded history, appears poised to become a world power. India—which is expected to exceed China's population very soon—is a growing economic power and the world's largest democracy. Japan is the world's second largest economy and a driving force in world technology and popular culture. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, and the largest majority Muslim country. Afghanistan and Pakistan are crucial components to American foreign policy. Beyond these, countries from Korea and Vietnam to Burma, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and beyond, make Asia a vibrant and important continent, one that is vital for Americans—and people throughout the world—to understand.
Whether your orientation is to the past, present or future (and ideally to all three) studying Asia makes a lot of sense. It makes sense both in terms of enriching your understanding of the rich history and culture that has contributed so much to our common human heritage and in terms of preparing you for a responsible and successful role in the global world of tomorrow.
At Saint Joseph's we offer an interdisciplinary major and a minor in Asian Studies, with an option to focus on either South Asia or East Asia. The size of our program makes it possible to work closely with individual Asian Studies faculty and to receive the kind of personal attention and support that are vital for academic success. The program also offers significant support for study in Asia, which is strongly encouraged. With courses in the departments of Economics, English, Fine and Performing Arts, Foreign Languages and Literatures, History, Political Science, and Theology, the program combines a solid foundation in the liberal arts with a specialized knowledge of Asia that will prepare graduates for success is a wide variety of career opportunities. Careers for Asian Studies majors include not only those in areas such as international business, but also in journalism, government service, and education. As a second major Asian Studies can open up new possibilities by adding a familiarity with Asia to a number of established career tracks.
The College Board web site has a helpful profile of the Asian Studies major that includes descriptions of some related careers.