Asian Studies Degree

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Program Overview

Whether you see yourself as an entrepreneur or a philosopher or involved in government or the arts, a working knowledge of Asian realities is essential in today's world. Whatever major you choose, the Asian studies minor allows you to tailor your course selection to explore Asian perspectives on the central questions of your field. Our distinguished program faculty will guide you to appreciate:

  • The dynamics of Asian societies
  • Their profound religious, philosophical, and artistic traditions
  • The growing interdependence of East and West in a global economy

‌The Asian Studies program focuses on a region that is home to half of the world's population but that nevertheless remains mysterious, exotic, and, above all, "inscrutable" to most people. The importance of Asia in the world political and economic system, and particularly its growing impact on the United States, demand a firm understanding of the history, cultures, politics, and economics of the Asian countries. No student, regardless of his or her chosen major or profession, will be unaffected by past, present, and future events and developments in Asia.



Fairfield's proximity to the vibrant Asian communities and cultural resources of New York City and New Haven make educational adventures possible near home, while faculty contacts provide access in setting up internships and research opportunities here and abroad.

Existing Study Abroad programs between Fairfield and universities in Asia offer students the unparalleled experience of learning by living in Asia. In recent years, Asian Studies minors have applied successfully to The Beijing CenterUniversity of Shanghai for Science and Technology (USST), and Sophia University for semester(s) of credited study. Summer programs are also available at the Beijing Center and Sophia University.


For a 15-credit minor in Asian studies, students complete the following:

  1. AN 310: Asian Studies Seminar during the junior or senior year. AN 301: Independent Study may be substituted if the seminar is not offered or if program faculty approve a student proposal for independent study in lieu of the seminar. A designated 100-300 level course from a rotation of the course offerings also fulfills the requirement.

  2. Four elective courses from the course offerings listed below. (Language courses may count for two of the four electives only if they are in the same language.).

Study abroad in Asia is not required for this minor, but is strongly recommended. Some courses taken abroad may be counted toward the minor with the Asian studies director's approval.

Course Offerings

See Asian Studies course descriptions from our catalog for more information 

Asian Studies

  • AN 301: Independent Study
  • AN 310: Asian Studies Seminar



  • CO 241: Communication and Culture: East and West



  • EC 120: Environmental Economics
  • EC 230: Comparative Economic Systems: Asian Economies
  • EC 235: Economic Development



  • EN 118/CI 250: Modern China Through Fiction and Film
  • EN 119/CI 252: The City and Modern China



  • HI 265: History of the Indian Subcontinent: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Democracy
  • HI 266 Gandhi and Nonviolent Revolution in the 20th Century
  • HI 278 A Cultural History: China’s Relations to the U.S.
  • HI 279: China to the 1800s
  • HI 282 Social and Cultural History of China and Japan
  • HI 285: Modern China: 1800 to Present
  • HI 286: Rise of Modern Japan: 1800 to Present
  • HI 366: Gender, Culture, and Representation: Women in China and Japan, 1600 to Present
  • HI 367: East Asia in 20th-Century American Wars
  • HI 368 Decolonization in World History


Modern Languages and Literatures

  • CI 110-111: Elementary Chinese
  • CI 210-211: Intermediate Chinese
  • CI 220: Advanced Chinese
  • CI 253: China and the West: Stories of Encounter
  • JA 110-111: Elementary Japanese
  • JA 210-211: Intermediate Japanese



  • PH 240: Introduction to Asian Philosophies
  • PH 241: Confucianism
  • PH 242: Philosophical Daoism and Zen Buddhism



  • PO 145: Asian Politics


Religious Studies

  • RS 101B: Intro to Religious Studies: Asian Religions
  • RS 188: Buddhism
  • RS 280: Hinduism
  • RS 286 Buddhism in the U.S.
  • RS 287: Buddhist Thought in India
  • RS 289: Tantrism
  • RS 388: Buddhist Spirituality


Visual and Performing Arts

  • AH 102: Art of East Asia
  • AH 104: Art of Asia
  • FTM 206/CI 251: New Chinese Cinema
  • TA 122: Asian Theatre


The College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff and budding scholars devoted to the process of invention and discovery and excited by the prospect of producing knowledge in the service of others. Meet the dedicated members of our Asian Studies Program.


If you've ever wondered if a particular career is a good fit for you, internships are a terrific way to find out. Academic credit and noncredit internships are available to Fairfield students in every field and offer hands-on, professional experience at leading companies throughout the region.

Life After Fairfield

As you embark on a career path after graduation, the direction and distinction you gain as an Asian studies minor at Fairfield will enhance your professional opportunities over both the long and short term. Over the years, graduates of Fairfield's Asian studies program have been attractive candidates for employment in:

  • Business
  • Banking
  • Journalism
  • Teaching
  • Government agencies and nonprofit organizations engaged in international affairs.

Quite a few Fairfield graduates have gone to Asia as Fulbright Scholars, showing that Asia is full of opportunities. In addition, Asian studies provides advantages to those applying for graduate and professional study in many fields. Our Asian studies graduates have gone on to business, research, and teaching positions in:

  • Korea
  • China
  • Japan
  • Nepal
  • The Pacific Islands

Learn more about how Fairfield's Career Planning Center can support your post-graduate goals, and how Fairfield's tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.


Spring 2016

Professor Deborah Davis (Sociology, Yale University)
"His, Her, and Their Marriages: Family Life in Shanghai Today”
Wednesday, February 3, 5:30-6:30pm, Library Multimedia Room


Spring 2015

Zhang Yimou's Happy Times & the Legacy of Socialism
A lecture by Wendy Larson -- The University of Oregon
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
6:30 p.m. in the DiMenna Nyselius Library Multimedia Room


Spring 2014

The Art of the Word ‌
Wolfgang Kubin, German sinologist, essayist, & poet
Wednesday, February 26, 6:30 p.m.
DiMenna-Nyselius Library, Multimedia Room
View poster

Where Have All the Villages Gone?
Ban Wang, William Haas Professor of Chinese at Stanford University
Tuesday, April 1, 7 p.m.
DiMenna-Nyselius Library, Multimedia Room


Fall 2013

Beyond and Beneath the Map of World Cinema
Dudley Andrew, R. Selden Rose Professor of Film and Comparative Literature, Yale University
October 8, 6:30 p.m.
DiMenna-Nyselius Library, Multimedia Room

Student & Alumni Spotlight

‌‌Carolyn Greene

Class of '11

Get to Know Carolyn

Majors: Chinese Studies and Art History

Extracurricular Activities: Tour Ambassador, Senior Gift Committee, Student Alumni Association, Inter-Residential Housing Association, Head Start, Study Abroad Beijing Fall 2009

Have you studied abroad in Asia? If yes, what was the most important thing that happened to you abroad?

During my time at Fairfield I spent countless academic hours studying Chinese history, literature, religion and language. This exposure to diverse traditions and unique perspectives made me want to study abroad in China and experience the culture first hand. While living in Beijing, China during the fall semester of my junior year I was able to develop a far more extensive understanding of the Chinese culture I was so interested in learning about at Fairfield. My educational experience in China went beyond a purely academic viewpoint. Transitioning from discussion in the classroom to actively living those experiences in China only made my passion for Chinese Studies grow.

The more time I spent in China the more connected I felt to the people and places I visited. While traveling to Xi’an to explore the tomb of China’s first Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, I not only had the opportunity to see the vast army of terra-cotta warriors but also to interact and converse with the local population. Being able to utilize the Chinese language skills I had first learned at Fairfield really emphasized how far I had come in my language acquisition. By being immersed in the Chinese culture I was able to enhance my language capability to a level that I never could have achieved without my study abroad experience.


What have you been doing following graduation? Does it connect to Asian Studies? 

After graduating from Fairfield, I further pursued Chinese Studies and have since obtained a Masters from the University of Pennsylvania in East Asian Languages and Civilizations. Since entering the working world I have used my knowledge of Asian Studies on a daily basis, working at Christie’s in New York City with East Asian clients. Having the ability to utilize my expertise in East Asia and specifically China, has allowed me the opportunity to communicate easily with clients as well as bridge any cultural gaps that may be experienced throughout the work day.

Arturo Jaras Watts

Class of '14

Get to Know Arturo

Major: Economics
Minors: Mathematics, Asian Studies

Extracurricular Activities: Founder and President of the Proactive Investment Club, Resident Assistant, Champions Mentoring Program, Campus Sustainability Committee.

What has been your favorite Asian Studies class and why?

My favorite Asian Studies course has been “Buddhism” with Dr. Ronald M. Davidson. This course was absolutely filled with intellectually stimulating ideas about life and existence. It was the most successfully interdisciplinary course I’ve ever taken, integrating insight from fields of anthropology, history, art history, physics, philosophy, religious studies, sociology, and so on. This course introduced me to a wide variety of perspectives that challenged my worldview and permanently altered my thinking. Put simply, this course embodied everything a liberal arts education ought to offer.


What do you plan to do following graduation? Will it connect to Asian Studies?

After graduation I plan to delve into the world of social business. I believe that socially oriented businesses have great potential to address our world’s most pressing challenges. I am particularly interested in the intersection of financial investments and social change, which is why I started the Proactive Investment Club on campus. I plan to pursue graduate studies in finance and economics with a focus on socially impactful investing - and given the increasingly globalized financial markets of the world, there is a very good chance that this will connect to Asian studies. A better understanding of world cultures and economies will absolutely help me serve as a more effective agent of change in society.

Julia Cunico

Class of '05

Get to Know Julia

Major: Politics
Minor: Asian Studies

"When I started in the politics program at Fairfield University, I took courses in American government, based on my high school experience with Junior State of America and summer university-level courses. Soon after, I enrolled in Intro to European Politics, which opened the door to a new interest - international politics. Since then, my focus has shifted to Asian studies, now my second major. As president of Fairfield University's Model UN Team, I use my coursework to defend my arguments and challenge points of view. After I graduate, I'll pursue advanced degrees in political science or international relations, with a concentration in Asia. The courses offered in the Asian Studies Program have challenged me to think critically and have reshaped the way I look at the world."

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