Asian Conversations

Asian Conversations is a learning community that introduces students to key historical, cultural, political, and linguistic constructs of Asia through an integrated sequence of three courses. Over that time students pursue conversations with four different faculty members about the issues that have shaped the development of Asian societies. The January interim abroad is mainly experiential, focused on having students practice their language skills through interactions with the people and places of China and Japan.

Asian Conversations is open to sophomores and juniors who are interested in studying Asia and enrolled concurrently in Intermediate Chinese or Japanese (or above). Whether you plan to major in biology, economics, history, Asian studies, or anything else, Asian Conversations offers you an integrated, innovative way to complete required study in foreign language and the liberal arts.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Program

See Asian Studies for information about Chinese language courses, Japanese language courses, and Asian Studies curriculum.

Course Equivalents for General Education Requirements

By successfully completing courses ASCON 210, ASCON 215 or ASCON 216, and ASCON 220, a student fulfills the following general education requirements, which are all awarded upon completion of ASCON 220:

  • Multicultural Studies - Global [one MCG]
  • Artistic Studies [one ALS-A] 
  • Literary Studies [one ALS-L] 
  • Studies in Human Behavior and Society [one HBS] 
  • Writing [one WRI] 
  • Oral Communication [one ORC] 

ASCON 210: Asian Conversations I

What is Asia? Students explore how concepts of culture, language, nation, race, and environment define Asia today and in years past and plan related projects for their Interim course. Offered annually in the fall semester. Counts toward Asian studies, Chinese, and Japanese majors and Asian studies concentration.
Prerequisite: CHIN 112 or JAPAN 112 or permission of instructor; must be accepted into Asian Conversations program to register.

ASCON 215: Asian Conversations II (abroad)

Students pursue guided fieldwork experience in China and Japan. Activities and readings in this course build on the topics from ASCON 210 and three semesters of language study. Students continue to explore their understanding of Asia through language activities, site visits, and ethnographic observations. Students develop projects and follow a process of inquiry that will help them understand how ordinary people construct "Asian" culture and society today. Offered annually during Interim. Counts toward Asian studies, Chinese, and Japanese majors and Asian studies concentration.
Prerequisite: ASCON 210.

ASCON 216: Asian Conversations IIB (on campus)

Students pursue guided fieldwork experience in the United States. Activities and readings in this course build on the topics from ASCON 210 and three semesters of language study. Students reflect on the experience of Asians in America through readings, site visits, and ethnographic observations. Students develop projects and follow a process of inquiry that will help them understand how ordinary people construct "Asian" culture and society today. Offered during Interim as needed. Counts toward Asian studies, Chinese, and Japanese majors and Asian studies concentration.
Prerequisite: ASCON 210.

ASCON 220: Asian Conversations III

In this final semester of Asian Conversations students examine modern reinterpretations of traditional Asia. Students engage with primary and secondary texts through written and oral presentation, including materials collected during Interim. Offered annually in the spring semester. Counts toward Asian studies, Chinese, and Japanese majors and Asian studies concentration.
Prerequisite: CHIN 231 or JAPAN 231, and ASCON 215 or ASCON 216.

Director, 2020-2021

Ka F. Wong

Associate Professor of Asian Studies

language pedagogy; cultural studies; Asian American studies; visual culture

Rika Ito

Professor of Asian Studies

language change and variation; sociolinguistics; language and gender; Japanese

Karil J. Kucera

Professor of Art and Art History and Asian Studies; Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary and General Studies

Asian art history; text/image; sacred sites

Stephanie Montgomery

Assistant Professor of History and Asian Studies