Why study Asia?

Home to more than half of the global population, Asia in the twenty-first century is reclaiming the place it held in world affairs before the rise of Europe in the eighteenth. The Asian continent contains some of the world’s largest economies as well as its largest cities, and Asia’s industrial production leads the world. Its societies are a wellspring of creative energy—the world’s largest film industry, for instance, is in India, and Japanese manga has had an enormous influence on global pop culture.  In everything from the global economy to climate change, Asia’s sheer size makes it a force to reckon with in the dynamics that will shape our common future. A background in Asian Studies is essential to navigating the global spaces of the 21 st  century.

Asia has always been at the crossroads of humanity: the heart of a global system of commerce that tied the Old World together, and which brought Arabs, Europeans, Africans, and Chinese to the ports of the Indian Ocean to trade. Asia gave the world everything from yoga to gunpowder, from cinnamon to the printing press, from the idea of diplomatic immunity to the practice of religious tolerance.

The Asian Studies major at Macalester is an inter-disciplinary program that weaves together the social sciences, the humanities and the fine arts to introduce you to this dynamic region of the world. It brings multiple perspectives to bear on the challenges of understanding this vast continent and the cultural, political, economic and historical forces that have shaped it. It is an ideal major for students planning a career in Asia in any field but is also highly recommended for students seeking a handle on the region that is among the most significant for our common future.