We can expect the countries of East Asia to play an even greater role in world-wide processes of economic, political, and cultural change in decades to come. The achievements of China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam should come as no surprise when we recognize that the sophisticated, evolving patterns of political and social organization, literary accomplishment, and economic development of East Asia grow out of a civilization with a history of at least three thousand years. The mixed record of dealing with the problems of modernity is also part of a global story, reminding us of comparable traumas of modern history in the West and around the world, but the East Asian experience may offer valuable and thought-provoking lessons.
Harvard has been at the forefront of teaching and research in East Asian studies for over fifty years. Its world-renowned faculty and impressive library holdings have made it a center for scholarship, and its museum collections have attracted constant interest. Faculty members with specializations relating to China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Inner Asia have a high-profile presence throughout the University. There are also a variety of interdisciplinary research institutes: the Asia Center, the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, the Korea Institute, the John K. Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, the East Asian Legal Studies Program at the Harvard Law School, and the Harvard-Yenching Institute. A wealth of opportunities reflecting the range of Harvard's East Asia faculty, a flexibility born of the diversity of the field, a commitment to faculty-student interaction and regular advising, and strong support for study abroad and summer internships in East Asia combine to ensure that students will be able to pursue their personal interests in depth whether their primary focus is the humanities, the social sciences, or even the natural sciences.
Faculty in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations teach Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Manchu, Mongolian, and Vietnamese languages and history, religion, philosophy and literature. The faculty who teach East Asia related courses in other departments, such as Anthropology, Economics, Fine Arts, Government, History, and Sociology, also play an active role in the East Asian Studies tutorial program. Faculty with East Asian specializations in other parts of the University, including the Law School, Business School, and School of Public Health, also advise EAS concentrators. Concentrators interested in Japan can draw on Harvard's strengths in Japanese art, Buddhism, classical poetry and literature, traditional and modern fiction, early modern and modern history, economics, politics, sociology, and linguistics. There are also growing programs in Korean history, literature, and social sciences, and in traditional and modern Vietnamese history. For those interested in China Harvard is particularly strong in the areas of anthropology, fine arts, the intellectual and religious traditions of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, traditional poetry, literature and aesthetics, music, later imperial and modern history, and politics, economics, and sociology.
The languages, literatures, art, history, philosophies, and religions of East Asia, as well as its social, political, and economic structures differ markedly from those in the West. These differences offer students the opportunity to examine the values we assume to be given. In intellectual terms this inevitably leads to greater self-awareness and appreciation of the diversity and richness of human behavior and experience. Furthermore, the economic development of East Asian countries and the increasingly important role they have come to play in the world today suggests practical reasons for seeking rigorous training in East Asian Studies.
Is concentrating in East Asian Studies compatible with finding a rewarding job after graduation? Most definitely. Although some graduates continue towards an M.A. or Ph.D. degree with a view of pursuing careers in teaching and research, many more find positions in business and international trade, government service, communications, law, and medicine. The network of Harvard's East Asia graduates spans the Pacific. The study of East Asia equips a student with unusual intellectual opportunities and language skills. It requires initiative, curiosity, imagination, and perseverance, qualities employers have always sought.
Finally, as a medium sized concentration EAS makes it possible to work closely with professors and teachers as students explore one of the most intriguing and rapidly expanding fields available at Harvard or any other university.