In recent years, the center of the global economy has shifted to the Pacific Basin. The United States is on one side of this vast area, and the Asia Pacific region is on the other. East Asia, with the world’s greatest concentration of population and its most volatile economies, comprise the epicenter of Asia Pacific. It has, therefore become imperative for Americans to understand an area that includes China, Japan, the two Koreas, Hong Kong, Taiwan Mongolia, Southeast Asia and Far Eastern Russia.
America’s role in the world, its economic competitiveness, and its ability to meet the challenges of the new millennium – all rely on a clear perception of the history, politics, economics, sociology, culture and languages of East Asia. Learning about East Asia is in fact learning about those forces that affect our country, our jobs, our businesses, our households and ourselves.
The East Asian Studies minor, totaling 20 credits, is offered by a faculty with various disciplines in anthropology/sociology, political science, business/ economics, psychology, and languages. Its two interdisciplinary foundation courses of four credits each are POLI 233 East Asia: History and Politics of China, Japan, and Korea and people. And INTL 204 Peoples and Cultures of Asia. These basic courses provide the student with a broad historical, political and cultural background to the region as a whole. Additional 200- 300-level courses also are required from an approved list of course offerings, but an East Asian language course of the appropriate level may be substituted for these requirements. Many other upper-division courses on the politics and history of specific East Asian countries, courses in law, religion, immigration, business, sociology, and others, are offered each year.
The growing demand for knowledge of East Asia, as well as for skills in its languages, has paralleled the region’s growth of importance in the global economy. Careers in international business, international studies, government, communications, journalism, education, and East Asian affiliate companies all have put a premium on knowledge about East Asia. Credentials with a specialization in the area have opened up numerous options for career applicants.
Ramapo College has established study abroad programs with educational institutions in East Asia. Our students have studied in Wuhan, China, Ramapo’s last summer program in China has drawn many students who wish to study in Shanghai or in Hong Kong. We regularly have visiting professors from China who teach the language and culture of their country. Visiting scholars from Japan have also enriched our courses. More individualized programs of study in conjunction with other programs in East Asia, such as the New Jersey State Consortium for International Studies, have been arranged for Ramapo students.