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Notre Dame expands Asian studies courses

| Thursday, March 27, 2014

The creation of a 2014 summer studies program in India and the on-campus Asian Studies Seminar on China this semester will provide Notre Dame students with the opportunity to further investigate their interest in Asia.

According to Inez Suhardjo, director of undergraduate studies at the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, the summer India studies program comes in the wake of Fr. Jenkins’ recent travels to Asia and the announcement of the University’s partnerships with various Asian universities.

“We wanted to keep up with the momentum of India being important on campus,” she said.

The summer India studies program will allow students to spend two weeks at the St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai while earning three Asian Studies credits, Suhardjo said.

“It’s a specially designed program with nine different modules, anything from popular culture, to traditional Indian art, to history,” she said. “It’s going to be a kind of survey introduction to India for any students interested, anyone who wants to get a sense of India, on the ground in India.”

Suhardjo said student interest also contributed to the creation of the India summer studies program.

“I had met with students at the end of last year, who had either been to India or were from India, and they were saying that Notre Dame just doesn’t have enough [classes] about India,” she said. “This is a way to speak to those concerns and those wishes, for something to do with India programmatically.” 

SummerIndiaStudies_Graphic_ResizedSteph Wulz | The Observer

Suhardjo said the summer program is just the first of several programs the University plans to develop with the intent of building stronger ties with India.

“There are also some programs in the works for exchange programs, and we’re hoping after this pilot run of our summer India studies program that we can build this from here and make it bigger and better, to have it apply to University requirements,” she said.

Students from all majors are encouraged to apply to the program, Suhardjo said.

“India is going to be such an important player on the world stage that it’s important for everyone to really think about India on a deeper level, and get to know it and understand its position in the world,” she said. “It’s open to people who are looking to build Asia as a concept in their degrees, so it’s definitely something we’re hoping to get everyone involved and interested in.”

As for the Asian Studies Seminar, Suhardjo said this one-credit course is built around a series of guest lecturers and will take place this semester from March 27 to April 4.

“It’s a way for us to encourage students to connect with really important, prominent scholars that are coming to campus,” she said.

The guest lectures are open to the public, but Suhardjo said visiting scholars will additionally lead small class sessions for students in the Asian Studies Seminar.

“This semester we have a couple of very prominent scholars coming from China, and they will be discussing China today, in a historical and religious context,” she said. “One is speaking about the cultural diversity of rural areas, and another will be speaking about philosophical Daoism and Confucianism in China today.”

Suhardjo said these programs aim to promote a deeper awareness of global interaction among students.

“Both China and India are important, and these programs are a way for us to make sure the Notre Dame community is linked in to what is going on in Asia and seeing how the world is interconnected,” she said.

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About Catherine Owers

Senior News Writer Catherine Owers is a senior from New Orleans, Louisiana. She is studying English and Theology.

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