Asian Studies BA Japan Studies

Program Purpose

Asian Studies-Japan Studies is an interdisciplinary major in which students develop language competence and an understanding of the literature, humanities, history, politics, economics, geography, and social conditions in East Asia generally with a more in-depth knowledge of Japan. The major is designed to serve students interested in working in the private sector, government, or non-profit organizations, as well as preparing for graduate studies primarily in professional programs. It also aims to have students develop critical thinking, perceptive reading, and competent writing skills that will enhance students' career options and prepare them to be lifelong students. This statement of purpose aligns with Brigham Young University's Mission Statement by enabling students to think clearly and communicate effectively, while learning more about another region of the world.

Curricular Structure

Program MAP:


Catalog Description: The Asian Studies-Japan Studies major is an interdisciplinary program designed to prepare students for careers and advanced study in the specialized field of Japan Studies not provided by a major in one department. The program provides an opportunity for students to acquire working competence in Japanese, a broad knowledge of Asian civilization, and a more specialized knowledge of Japan. The major is useful to those contemplating careers in academic areas, private industry, or government service. International business and government services are particularly interested in persons who have a strong background in Japan Studies.

As evident from the attached Asian Studies Map Sheet, the Asian Studies-Japan Studies curriculum is designed to meet stated Asian Studies program goals by requiring each student to complete specific courses relating to Asia in general in specific disciplines. Each student will acquire specific research and study methods unique to the study of Asia. Those skills involve various disciplines but are specific to Asia. In addition, each student will become familiar with the recent history of Asian civilization, the Asian literary tradition, and Asian international relations and politics.

Each student is required to specialize by developing competence in Japanese, and a more in-depth knowledge of Japan's history. After completing the language component, students should be able to converse intelligently in Japanese, and to read and write on a level permitting primary research. Elective courses allow students to further develop knowledge of China, or to further expand knowledge of Asia in general.

The curriculum encourages students to seek opportunities to study or work (through an internship program) in Japan and allows students to apply credit obtained through internship courses to the major or minor.

Learning Outcomes

Factual Knowledge

Students demonstrate general factual knowledge of the literature, humanities, history, politics, economics, geography, and social conditions of East Asia.  The courses that are the foundation for this knowledge are the core courses in the major: Asian 200, Intro to Asin Studies: Methods and Materials; Asin 342, Asian Literary Traditions; History 231, Introduction to East Asian History; either IHum 241, Humanities of Asia or IHum 243, Introduction to the Humanities of South Asia; and either Poli 348, Government and Politics of Asia or Poli 385, International Relations of Asia.

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Communicate effectively, Competence
Language Proficiency

A graduate can communicate in Japanese at the "intermediate" level according to ACTFL proficiency guidelines-i.e. "handle successfully a variety of uncomplicated communicative tasks in straightforward social situations . . . limited to those predictable and concrete exchanges necessary for survival." Comprehend "simple, sentence-length speech . . . in a variety of basic personal and social contexts." Read "short, non-complex texts that convey basic information and deal with basic personal and social topics."

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Communicate effectively, Human knowledge
Effective Writing

Students demonstrate effective writing skills by completing a research paper under the mentorship of an Asian Studies faculty member on a major East Asian topic as required in Asian 495, the Senior Seminar.

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Communicate effectively, Competence
Research Philosophies and Methodologies

Understanding basic research philosophies and methodologies associated with research in the social science and humanities as required in Asian 495, the Senior Seminar. This builds on the skills taught in Asian 200 Introduction to Asian Studies.

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Communicate effectively, Competence

Evidence of Learning

Most formal assessment occurs in the individual courses using examinations, papers, oral presentations, projects, etc. Successful completion of the program course work is the most obvious and direct measure of learning available to the Asian Studies program.

Direct Measures

  1. Review capstone papers. Each year capstone papers will be reviewed and evaluated using a rubric that focuses on the clarity of writing, engagement with the existing literature, quality of the research methodology and design, and grammar and style issues. A copy of all capstone papers are kept on file in the Asian Studies Coordinator's office. This will provide a measure for learning outcomes 1, 3, and 4.
  2. Collect Oral Proficiency Exams results as part of Asian 495, the Capstone Course.  This will provide a measure for learning outcome 2.
  3. A comprehensive exam for Asian Studies majors is taken as part of Asian 495, the Capstone Course.  This exam covers material from the core courses for the major.

Indirect Measures

  1. All graduating seniors are required to complete a written survey.These are collected by the Kennedy Center Advisement Office when students apply for graduation. They allow students to offer self-reflective comments on their learning process and education experiences at BYU. This provides an indirect measure for all learning outcomes.
  2. An exit interview is conducted by the department coordinator with all students participating in ASIAN 495 (capstone course). This allows the students an opportunity to reflect on their education at BYU, offer suggestions on how the Asian Studies program might be improved, and provide a forum for other types of information associated with their education they might wish to discuss. This provides an indirect measure for all learning outcomes.

Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, no faculty members are directly assigned to the Asian Studies program (rather each is a member of another academic department ) and the majority of course offerings are provided by other departments such as Asian and Near Eastern Languages, History and Political Science. Due to theinter-disciplinary  nature of the program, most course evaluation and faculty assessment is conducted by the faculty home departments.