E. Asian Studies looks to reform

Yale introduced the concept of correlated programs in the fall, but urban studies dropped out after an early courtship. Now, it looks like East Asian Studies, which seems bent on reform, might be a better candidate.

Chairman of the Council on East Asian Studies Mimi Yiengpruksawan said that after discussions ranging from cutting the major to expanding the program, the council is now considering the possibility of adding a correlated program, a course of study to be taken along with another major. She said she is also committed to adding a Korean concentration in addition to the Chinese and Japanese concentrations already a part of the major.

But a primary focus of any change to the program will be working to give it the definition that many feel it is lacking.



Flexibility and vagueness

Yiengpruksawan said that there are no required courses in the major other than a language. Instead, students take courses in various departments that focus on a country, either Japan or China. She said it is easy for students to design their own program.

Professor Deborah Davis said that the major allows students to pursue in-depth area study.

“The major allows them to have deep knowledge of this country, so if a student wants to really understand China and speak Chinese — many people think that’s as important as being an English major,” Davis said.

Professor Valerie Hansen said the interdisciplinary nature of the major can sometimes be a weakness when students write the senior essay.

“I’m not always sure that the course work correlates into a coherent program,” Hansen said.

Natalia Montuori ’04 agreed that it is possible to major in East Asian studies while not getting the preparation needed for a senior essay.

“You could have taken art classes and ancient lit classes and not have any idea what the problems are in China,” Montuori said.

Katherine Smith ’02 said in an e-mail that she likes the flexibility of the major, but has also found it vague. She said that most of her classes were offered through other departments.

“On the one hand that offers great flexibility, which I do appreciate; on the other hand, it doesn’t lend itself too well to stability,” Smith said.



A correlated program?

East Asian Studies Director of Undergraduate Studies Michael Auslin said in an e-mail that the Council on East Asian Studies is polling students and the faculty is discussing the possibility of a correlated program.

“We are at an early stage in the discussions, and there is no overall plan yet,” Auslin said.

The correlated program might consist of eight courses, including third-year language study and no senior essay, Davis said.

Montuori said she thought keeping the language requirement in a correlated program was very important.

“I think it would be totally ridiculous to have an East Asian studies major and have them not speak an East Asian language,” Montuori said.

Auslin said that the East Asian Studies Program has a long history as a strong major at Yale and that the faculty is always looking for ways to improve it.

“We constantly explore different ways to make the major even better and are looking at the correlated program as a way of perhaps appealing to students who currently are interested in East Asian studies, but do not have time to major in it, or who are already committed to a major,” Auslin said.

John Hartigan, the chairman of the Committee on Majors, said in an e-mail that no official steps have been taken.

“There has been some discussion about the possibility and desirability of East Asian Studies as a correlated program, but nothing substantial as yet,” Hartigan said.

Brooke McKenzie ’03 said in an e-mail that she liked the freedom to pick and choose classes within the major and thought that a correlated program would be a good additional option to the major as it stands.



Korean concentration

Davis said that the Council on East Asian Studies has been working for several years on adding a concentration on Korea.

“We don’t yet have as many courses to make Korea a full major like Japan and China,” Davis said. “I think we are very, very close to adding Korea.”

Yiengpruksawan said that adding a Korean concentration is at the top of her agenda.

“The only problem is that we need to find funding,” Yiengpruksawan said. “It’s a major drawback that [the major] does not have a Korean component. That’s an anomaly and we need to correct that.”

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