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At Colby we believe that a liberal arts education must include courses in non-Western culture. The East Asian Studies Department offers a variety of courses in Asian languages, the social sciences, and the humanities. The program began in 1965 as the result of a generous grant from the Jacob Ziskind Trust. In 1978 the Trust presented Colby with a new endowment for the purpose of establishing a faculty position known as the Ziskind Lectureship. We have also benefited from a series of grants from the Japan Foundation, the Oak Foundation, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, and the Freeman Foundation.
The department offers four years of training in Chinese and Japanese languages. All majors study at least three years of one of these languages; they also take a variety of courses in the social sciences and humanities. In the junior year majors study in East Asia for a least one semester, and upon their return in the senior year they engage in a focused research project. The program also offers a minor in East Asian studies, as well as minors in Chinese and Japanese languages.
Students studying East Asian–studies languages meet frequently for meals at Chinese and Japanese language tables. Faculty and students in the department often join forces with the Asian Cultural Society to put on campus-wide events such as the annual New Year’s festival, and an active schedule of visiting lectures and performers enliven campus activities. In the fall of 2010 a new Asian Culture and Language Dialogue House will open as a residence for students interested in living with other Asian enthusiasts.
The Colby library offers a significant collection of Chinese and Japanese texts and an extensive collection of works in English on East Asia. The art museum holds over two hundred pieces of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese decorative arts of all periods. In recent years, East Asian studies students have drawn on these valuable artistic resources to create exhibitions for the wider public.
The East Asian Studies Program is proud that its graduates have distinguished themselves, both professionally and academically. Many East Asian studies majors have been recognized with honors during their study at Colby and many have gone on to advanced study. A degree in East Asian studies gives them a unique edge in careers such as business, government, law, the arts, and academia.
Our department is staffed with a highly talented and diligent faculty who invite you to talk with them when you are on campus. Their e-mail addresses are listed here. Please contact any of us with questions or to make plans for a visit to Colby.