« Belmont home

Asian Studies Home

Beijing Opera

Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn, Director

Click to view curriculum for 2013-2014:
Asian Studies in Belmont's undergraduate curriculum (major and minor)

Why choose a major or minor in Asian Studies?

The Asian Studies major or minor integrates many different academic disciplines and perspectives into a holistic sense of Asian culture and society. It will change the way you see the world as well as how you imagine your role in it.

  • Asia is a dominant force, comprising 57% of the world's population. China and India are the 1st and 2nd most populous nations in the world.
  • More than half of US global trade is with countries of Asia (as well as over 70% of the US trade deficit!).  The world’s 2nd (China) and 3rd (Japan) leading economies are in Asia.
  • Asian nations will be in the vanguard of economic, political, and especially technological changes in the coming decades. This has profound implications for U.S. trade and foreign policies.
  • Asia is the source for some of the world's most significant and long-lasting philosophical, religious, and spiritual ideas.
  • 'Asia literacy' provides students with a familiarity and expertise in dealing with Asian societies, languages, political systems, businesses/economies, and cultures.
  • Asia is a source for some of the most interesting cuisine, film, anime, music, and art in our time. You can eat Asian cuisine, see Asian films, attend events / museums / lectures on Asia, dance to Asian pop music, and even travel and live there — all in the interest of your major or minor!


About the Asian Studies Program

Belmont’s Asian Studies program has won much recognition over the years.  Since 1999, Belmont has been a Regional Center of the Asian Studies Development Program of the East-West Center and the university is a Tier One member of  ASIANetwork, a consortium of more than 170 U.S. colleges committed to strengthening the Asian studies programming on their campuses.  Belmont University received the 2010-11 Iris Award for furthering U.S.-Japan relations jointly presented by the Office of the Consul-General of Japan, the Southeast Conference of U.S./Japan Relations and the Japan America Society of Tennessee.  Belmont has been the host for the National Conference of the Asian Studies Development Program, the National Conference of the ASIANetwork, Nashville Sister City (Taiyuan, China), and the Southeastern Regional Conference of the Association of Asian Studies.

Belmont has received many grants to support its Asian Studies program, from such places as the United Board for Christian Higher Education, the Freeman Foundation, the Japan Foundation, the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (a.k.a., Hanban), the CIES Fulbright Program, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Belmont is a host site for the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia workshops for pre-collegiate teachers in Tennessee.  Additionally, the Asian Studies Program has enjoyed the impactful ongoing support of generous individual donations from Ms. Brenda Bass (alumna, 2003), for whom the Bass Award in Asian Studies is named.

Each year the program hosts an Asian Studies Symposium to bring to campus outstanding lecturers and activists who have made distinguished contributions to the understanding and place of Asia.

Through its Asian Studies program, Belmont has hosted several visiting scholars from Asian for semester or year-long appointments on campus, as well as an annual stream of 10 to 15 Convocation Events each year focused on Asia through lecture, music, art, film and dramatic production. Belmont was the host together with the Documentary Channel, a TV service available to over 26 million homes through DirectTV and Dish Network, of the premier of  “Kimjongilia,” a documentary which chronicles the experience of five individuals who escaped from North Korea.  The filmmaker, NC Heiken attended the premier and met with Belmont students and faculty. 

Belmont students studying in the Asian Studies program have many opportunities.

  • Asian Studies students have worked through the program to receive prestigious Chinese Government Scholarships to study in China at both the undergraduate and graduate level, with full tuition, fees, living expenses, and stipends included.  Others have been chosen for the Japan Exchange Teaching Program to teach English in Japan for 2 to 5 years.  Others have been recipients of the Lumos travel award, the Gilman Scholarship, and the Rasmussen Scholarships.
  • Each summer, Belmont sponsors study abroad  travel studies to China and Japan, as well as semester or year-long programs.
  • The program sponsors an Asian Studies session in the annual Belmont Undergraduate Research Symposium where students present their work each spring.
  • Students participate in a host of activities in the Nashville community including the Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival, the Cumberland River Dragon Boat Race, the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival, the Greater Nashville Chinese Association New Year’s Gala
  • Belmont alumni have an outstanding record of career advancement in Asia.  Four alumni currently have jobs teaching English in Japan, China, and Korea.  Another alumnus has worked in a position in the Office of the Consul-General of Japan. Still another has his own radio show in Japan.

Faculty in the Asian Studies program include professors of art, economics, history, international business, literature, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion and sociology. The Asian languages faculty are native speakers with extensive experience in teaching American students the languages of China and Japan.  They are recognized scholars and field researchers with currently active projects in Asia.

The Asian Studies program offers a major and a minor. For either the major or minor, students must complete intermediate collegiate level study or its equivalent in an Asian language.

Majors and minors will choose courses from a wide range of area specific courses which have Asia as their driving focus and context.  Majors also choose two courses from a list of “Infused” courses in which Asia is a significant part of the course of study, but not the exclusive focus.

Asian Studies majors are required to have an approved study abroad experience and it is recommended that minors do so.  There are many ways to satisfy the study abroad experience requirement, ranging from participation on one of Belmont’s travel study programs, to the University’s semester or year long exchanges, to an experience through another institution in the U.S. or Asia with prior approval of the Director of Asian Studies.   


Students will gain increased knowledge about Asia in general and familiarity with the history, cultures, and languages of that area.

Students will learn how to study a region in an interdisciplinary manner, making use of the methodologies and perspectives of multiple fields.

Students will be prepared for careers and/or further study of Asia in fields such as international business, journalism, politics, the media professions, economics, history, modern languages, literature, law, philosophy, politics, religion, and sociology.

Students will learn to use their knowledge of Asian affairs to support their own critical reflections on current issues.

Email us for more information