The program of East Asian languages and culture at Wake Forest University is now a department. David Phillips, associate professor of Japanese and former coordinator of the program, is now chair of the department.
The Wake Forest board of trustees approved the change during an Oct. 10 meeting.
The transition from program to department includes offering a major in the subject that requires a final thesis and at least one semester of study abroad to an East Asian country. Concentrations within the major include Chinese language, Chinese culture, Japanese language and Japanese culture. Previously, students could minor in East Asian studies.
“Because we had no major, students that wanted to continue beyond their minor requirements couldn’t,” Phillips said. “We wanted to improve our outreach to campus and the students were supportive of the change.”
The department’s four full-time faculty members’ expertise ranges from Chinese philosophy to Japanese architecture. Many course offerings are inter-disciplinary, taught by professors with East Asian specialties in the religion, communication and history departments, among others. Phillips said he is stressing academic rigor within the department, while hoping to make course offerings more accessible for students.
“We’ve reached a point where our students want something they can really relate to,” Phillips said. “Our challenge is to meet those needs.”
The department is co-sponsoring the Asian American Documentary Film Festival this fall at Reynolda House, Museum of American Art. Phillips is also leading an information session in November for university faculty on ways to incorporate Asian studies into other subjects. The department will graduate its first four students May, 2004.
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