Today’s students find themselves in a world of increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multicultural contexts. Through a long history of receiving, reworking, and incorporating influences from nearby cultural centers on the Asian mainland, from surrounding Pacific islands, and from the world beyond (including Europe and the Americas), Japan has developed a tradition of multiculturalism—a tradition that is best understood through interdisciplinary study. Following this thread, the Japanese Studies Program seeks to foster the student’s global and interdisciplinary perspectives, while at the same time maintaining a flexibility that allows individuals to pursue their own areas of interest. To further foster the students’ linguistic and cultural development, the Japanese Studies Program strongly encourages study abroad in Japan for a year, a semester, or a summer.
Students may pursue a major or a minor in Japanese studies. The program offers a variety of courses to fulfill the requirements, ranging from five levels of the Japanese language to courses about Japanese cinema, literature, and pop culture. Besides these core courses, we encourage the student to take related courses in such interdisciplinary areas as Asian art, cinema, comparative literature of Japan and the West, Japanese religion and history, and international business. Taking advantage of the varied resources of the university and University Circle institutions, the Japanese Studies Program makes the study of Japanese culture an integral part of the student’s undergraduate education. Furthermore, the Japanese Studies Program provides an excellent foundation for graduate or professional school or for careers in international business and finance, careers involving technological or medical exchange, and careers in law, journalism, foreign service, or the arts.
All courses in modern languages and literatures are taught primarily in the target language, unless the course is cross-listed with the World Literature Program or other interdisciplinary programs. In addition to scheduled class meetings, elementary and intermediate language courses require that students work with audio or audiovisual materials outside of class.
Career opportunities for students majoring in these areas exist in college and university teaching, translation and interpretation, diplomatic and other government service, business, international nonprofit agencies, and the arts, and can be enhanced by a double major or a secondary major.
Majors in Japanese Studies are expected to acquire the ability to understand, speak, read, and write in Japanese and to develop a sound understanding of the relevant literatures and cultures.
Students with prior experience in Japanese, however acquired (e.g., in high school, at another institution, or via study abroad), work with department faculty members to determine an appropriate level at which to start. In general, one year of high school language instruction is the equivalent to one university-level course. Students who have taken four years or more of one language in high school are generally eligible to take 300-level language courses at CWRU, but the department recommends starting with a course numbered under 320.
Study abroad in Japan is highly recommended, preferably for a year, a semester, or even short term (see JAPN 235 The Japan Experience: Kyoto - Language, Culture & Exchanges). All efforts are made to grant appropriate credit for courses taken at a Japanese university during the study abroad experience.
For undergraduate policies and procedures, please review the Office of Undergraduate Studies section of the General Bulletin.