“If you want to understand the world, you need to understand Asia.” — Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times
“Anyone who has roamed from his home country will have noticed the constant intermingling of ideas, culture, and goods from one nation to another…. Our curriculum must always be those cultural objects which will enable us to think, and understand the world in which we live.” — Francis S. Hutchins, Berea College president (1939-67)
Although Berea College did not institute a formal academic program in Asian Studies until 1999, Berea’s connection with Asia has a long history. Francis S. Hutchins spent nearly twenty years in China prior to becoming Berea’s longest-serving president in 1939. When Americans of Japanese descent were confined to “War Relocation Camps” in 1942, President Hutchins authorized the admission of Japanese-American students, even though the local community opposed their presence. Through the visionary engagement of President Hutchins and other Berea faculty, staff, and students, the study of Asia became an increasingly important way for Bereans to “assert the kinship of all people.”
Today, the Asian Studies Program offers Berea students the opportunity to study the art, cinema, history, philosophy, religion, and society of various Asian cultures. Our faculty resources are particularly strong in the areas of East Asian history, philosophy, religion, and theater, as well as South and Southeast Asian arts and cultures.
Majors and Minors in Asian Studies enjoy membership in a lively campus community of students, faculty, and staff united by a common interest in Asia. Many of our graduates have gone on to pursue careers in business, education, and law, while others have undertaken post-graduate study in various academic disciplines related to Asia.
If you are interested in gaining knowledge and understanding of the region that is home to 2/3 of the world’s population, then Asian Studies is for you.
Why Study Asia?
Consider these facts:
- 57% of the worlds’s population lives in Asia.
- The world’s four most popular religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam) all originated in Asia.
- Asian economies represent approximately 1/3 of the World Gross National Product.
- More than 80% of the $154 billion U.S. global trade deficit is with Asian countries.
- Asian civilizations and American concerns are intertwined through history, commerce, politics, religion, and culture.
- Those with knowledge of Asia are poised for success in business, law, education, government, and international service work.