(3 semester credits each)

Our curriculum aims to provide students with a broad-based exposure to Japan and Asia, as well as relevant experience learning and living in Japan. To achieve this goal, knowledge of current business issues as well as traditional cultural traits is equally important.

With this in mind, the Asian Studies Program course offerings cover various topics in rapidly changing societies and cultures, current social issues as well as Japan’s history and its unique arts. In order to make it possible for those who have limited knowledge of the Japanese language to pursue these courses, all lecture and seminar courses are offered in English.

The courses are generally equivalent to 300- or 400-level upper division (third- and fourth-year) courses in most other universities, in terms of level of academic content and amount of work required. Most of them are designed to accommodate non-majors; thus no prerequisites are required. For a few courses, however, it is recommended that students have some level of background in the course discipline.

Wa: Rules and Principles in Japanese Arts, Design and Aesthetics

Wa is a pivotal concept in Japan that encompasses many situations. It is a way to maintain social interactions harmoniously, as well as a dynamic framework for creating art. Wa is used in this course as a keyword that offers two levels of understanding about Japanese art: one being “Japaneseness” and the other being the cultivation of quiet, peaceful, and harmonious qualities. Through the study of Zen, nihon-ga, ceramics, ikebana, calligraphy, literature, photography and design, this course explores the connections between Wa and other key concepts connected to art practice and Japanese aesthetics.

Japanese Influence on Western Art and Design

Trade between Japan and the West began in the late 16th century and led to Japonism at the fin de siècle. Japanese art profoundly influenced Western art and design in the development of such modern art and design as Impressionism, Aestheticism, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and so on. Therefore, this course examines Japanese art and explores how Japanese art and aesthetics influenced western art and design.

Fashion in Japan: Art and History of the Kimono and Western Dress Culture

From the origins of the kimono to the anti-fashion design of Rei Kawakubo, this course will be exploring the parallel routes of traditional clothing (wafuku) and western fashion (yôfuku) in Japan. From showing social ranking to expressing oneself, analyzing clothing in Japan will be seen as an encompassing dynamic, coming from the need of covering one's body to an artistic and performative statement about Japanese culture, aesthetics, silhouettes and body consciousness. Employing different materials (books, artworks, movies, magazines, etc.) this course will examine and analyze how kimono and western fashion are embedded in Japanese society, history, popular culture and visual arts. 

Japanese Design: Aesthetics and Visual Culture

This course aims at understanding Japanese aesthetics, culture, and society through design. Students will examine a broad range of design examples reflective of the social, political, and economical culture of the time. The course will begin by exploring Japanese aesthetics and prewar design and continue by discussing contemporary design with regard to the emergence of design, “made in Japan,” pop culture, and “disaster and design.” Through lectures, discussions, presentations, and museum visits, students will understand how traditional Japanese aesthetics are reflected in contemporary design and how individual Japanese designers uniquely delivered traditional aesthetics to international style.

Global Business Teams

As the world continues to become increasingly interconnected, many students will work in global contexts and will need related competencies. Creating effective work teams is challenging, even among people from similar backgrounds. Global teams face additional hurdles related to cultural differences, geographic and time zone separation, communication styles, differences in decision-making strategies, and role expectations, to name a few. This course is designed to assist students in developing competencies related to effective teamwork in a global context.

Intercultural Communication in Japan

This course is a practical introduction to theory and research in the field of intercultural communication as applied to a Japanese context. The primary course content focuses on perceptions, behaviors, values, and cultural patterns of human interaction, thereby assisting students in developing a clearer understanding of their own communicative perspectives as related to life in Japan. A variety of methods and activities, including class discussion, group work, lecture, cultural enactment, video critique, storytelling, critical incident, written reflection, and in-class engagement, will be used to help students develop intercultural communicative competence.

Culture, Power and Belonging in Japan: Anthropological Perspectives on the Making of Minorities and Majorities

This course focuses on the shifting conditions of cultural minority and marginalized groups in Japan, in particular: the Ainu, Okinawans, those of Buraku outcaste heritage, ethnic Koreans tracing their heritage from the colonial era, Nikkei "return" migrants, and the growing Chinese, South Asian and other “newcomer” foreigner communities. Throughout the semester, students can expect to increase their awareness of the rich, but often hidden diversity of Japanese society while exploring the ways minority groups come into existence, face marginalization, make claims for belonging and negotiate identity and social belonging.

Gender and Sexuality in Japan: Norms, Practice and Selves in Motion

With a focus on gender as cultural belief, as a social structuring mechanism and a source of social inequality in Japan, students in this course will investigate the values and behavioral expectations associated with “femininity” and “masculinity,” and how gender interacts with other spheres of life. Topics to be covered include historical changes in gender roles; gender, family and work; state policy, gender ideology and the gendered division of labor; the Japanese women’s movement; and gender and sexuality, including recent widespread and highly visible public discussions involving the "LGBT" model of understanding gender and sexual diversity, marginalization and recognition.

Popular Culture as Social Practice: Fandoms, Subcultures and the Rest of Us

How do the products of popular culture (objects, images, discourses, categories) impact social life in Japan? While introducing key concepts in the study of popular culture and society, this course focuses on specific fandoms, subcultures or social categories constructed around consumption practices such as otaku, dōjinshi writers, J-rappers, gyaru, visual-kei fans and the legendary devotees of the Takarazuka Revue. Central themes running throughout the course include fan labor in participatory popular culture, including creative “play” in the fields of gender and sexuality; popular culture consumption and constructions of “deviance;” and identity work undertaken through investments in popular culture participation.

Sexuality and Culture in Japan: Shifting Dimensions of Desire, Relationship and Society

Our erotic lives are profoundly shaped by history, social beliefs and institutional practices. In Japan today, sexuality is a dynamic and contested field. Topics for exploration in this course include changing aspects of mating, romance and marriage; sex education in Japanese schools and recent controversies over sex education policy and practice; conjugal sexual relations, contraceptive practice, and abortion; international romance and marriage; the exploitation and commodification of sexual and emotional relations; mizu shōbai (the after-dark "water trades") and eroticized servicing by hostesses and hosts; sexualized images in popular culture; and minority sexual and gender identities and practices and impacts of the imported cultural model of "LGBT."

Japan and Globalization: A Cultural Approach

In today’s world, it is widely held that global-scale culture supersedes governments and political boundaries; economy is paramount. The new buzzword to explain this phenomenon is “globalization.” But what does this supposedly new concept really entail? Globalization is about movement and interaction: people, culture, technology, goods and services, money, religion and ideologies are moving through porous borders causing immediate and intense contact. This cultural contact affects everyone in the global village albeit in vastly different ways. Where does Japan and Japanese culture fit within globalization?

Deaf World Japan: The Struggle of Disability, Identity and Language

This course is an ethnographic examination of deaf culture in Japan and Japanese Sign Language. While the focus will be on deaf people and their language, it will be in the broader context of contemporary Japan. Deaf people will be compared/contrasted with other so-called disabled people and other minorities in Japan in terms of discrimination issues and political movements. Cross-cultural comparisons of deaf people in the United States, Bali and other places will also be considered.

The Geisha - Evolution and Role in Contemporary Japan

Models to Picasso and Rodin, entertainers to royalty, yet the Geisha have often been misinterpreted outside Japan and have shaped stereotypes about Japanese women. Closed in secrecy, not many outsiders have access to this world which has its own rules and etiquette with very little documentation. This course examines the primary role of the Geisha in Japan as an artist and an entertainer encompassing a variety of important social, cultural, and historical elements and attempts to correctly place these artists in Japanese culture, and in a traditional world which runs parallel and yet is completely different than the modern Japanese world of manga, anime, and robots.

Education and Society in Asia

How can sociology help us understand education in Asia? This course attempts to show the scope and usefulness of sociological theorizing to comprehend the educational processes in Asia. In the course students will emphasize the diversity of theoretical approaches, issues in the field and the application of this knowledge to the understanding that an individual position in society largely depends on schooling. Education is changing rapidly and it is not an easy task to present the excitement of a dynamic field with diverse and disparate topics. Despite these challenges, the course will present the development to date of the sociological study of education in Asia, and assess the strengths and weakness of current educational policies in order to point out the prospects for the future.

Society, Health and Wellbeing

The study of health and illness from a sociological perspective in Japan are discussed in this course, where the outcomes of sickness and disease are analysed in relation to the organisation of society. In the analysis, inequalities of class, gender, and ethnicity are emphasised, as it is understood that disease and inequality are intimately related. Unequal political, economic and social resources are mirrored in the group and individual patterns of health and illness. By highlighting the relationship between social structures and the production and distribution of health and disease in modern Japanese society, the focus of this course is the links between social factors and health and disease.

Global and Transnational Sociology

Globalization’s economic dimensions are often the most salient in the news and in our immediate lives, but they are much more complex and have multiple interweaving dimensions. We will explore not only economic, but also demographic, political, and cultural dimensions. Importantly, we will think about how globalization manifests itself along global, organizational, national, and individual levels, while critically assessing positive and negative impacts. Substantively, we will touch on topics such as transnational corporations and global commodity chains, trade and capital flows, international migration, international organizations, transnational advocacy initiatives, norm diffusion, cultural imperialism, cultural homogenization and hybridization, etc.

Comparative Sociology

Sociology is an academic discipline, but it is also a “tool box” of ideas and concepts that help us understand the world around us and our own experiences within that world. Drawing from the social realities of Japan and other parts of the world, we will discuss foundational sociological topics such as culture, socialization, deviance, stratification, inequality, gender, race and ethnicity, family, and education. Students will use their “sociological imaginations” to think critically about various sociological concepts and theories, apply that knowledge to make sense of the past and present, and think comparatively about their own unique experiences in Japan and the broader social contexts of the world.

Medicine and Health Care in East Asia

In this course students are invited to think about one of the most serious issues affecting contemporary East Asian societies: the provision of health care for an ageing population. The first part of the module is a general review of concepts that have been used to explain medicine and health care-related issues. The second part of the course explores how the concepts of social class, gender, race and ethnicity can help understand the provision of health care in East Asia. The last part of the course draws on mental health-related issues to shed light on how anxiety disorders affect East Asian societies and enlarge social inequality among ageing populations.

Cool Japan and Korean wave (Nichiryu and Hallyu) in the World

This course is an overview of how the Cool Japan (Nichiryu) and the Korean Wave (Hallyu) movements have changed global mass media and the popular culture market. The course will provide students with a theoretical foundation with which they can tackle the cultural and social principles of pop culture, pop culture industries, and the globalization of the cultural industries. The course will introduce manga/anime, J-pop, J-drama, K-pop, and K-drama as its main case studies.

The History and Culture of Japanese Martial Arts (Kendo/Jodo)

This course will introduce Japanese martial arts (budō), focusing on Kendō (sword-play) and Jōdō (stick-play). The objectives of the course will be to provide the students with basic knowledge of Japanese martial arts and their history as well as to increase their physical fitness levels through actual training of Kendō and Jōdō in a dōjō (special hall for martial arts training). In Kendō (剣道:けんどう) players use shinai (bamboo swords) as they compete to strike four specific areas on the opponent’s bōgu (armor). Kendo is characterized by always showing respect to one’s opponents, the honoring of protocol and culture, and the importance placed on enriching one’s heart through training. Jōdō (杖道:じょうどう) is reputed to have been invented by the great swordsman Musō Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi about 400 years ago.

Varieties of Capitalism in East Asia: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China

Through a comparative political economy approach, the economic systems of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China are analyzed, comparing political and institutional settings which governed their national economies. Historically, each has achieved economic success by drawing on the same blueprint: the Asian Developmental State model. Now they have evolved into distinct national formations of organized capitalism, with specific institutional advantages and structural problems. How do these four variations of East Asian capitalism differ? What is their historical trajectory? Can these four countries transform their political economies to adjust to the challenges of globalization?

The Japanese Economy: Growth and Stagnation

This course analyzes the high-growth period in the 1960s, the bubble period in the late 1980s and the "lost decades" in the 1990s through 2000s of the Japanese economy from the viewpoint of the Japanese financial system. In particular, the course focuses on how the Japanese financial system has evolved in the postwar period and how it has affected the performance of the Japanese economy by way of changing the behavior of banks, firms and households. Special attention is paid to the "lost decades" and describing the characteristics of the "lost decades" and then explaining why it took so long to wipe out the aftermath of the "lost decades." The efficacy of Abenomics is examined, as well as economic policies advocated by the current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in rescuing the Japanese economy from "lost decades."

Cultural and Creative Industries in Japan/East Asia

The Japanese/East Asian cultural and creative industries (e.g., visual/performing arts, advertising, crafts, design, film, multi-media, publishing, and games) are widely touted (particularly in policy circles) as vectors of global competitive advantage and economic growth. However, their myriad characteristics, dynamics, and challenges are seldom grasped. The course reviews canonical and up-to-date theoretical/empirical literatures relating to the Japanese/East Asian CCI at national, regional and global levels. It encompasses inter- trans- and post-disciplinary approaches, drawing upon the endeavors of Cultural Economics, Political Economy, Sociology, and Urban Studies. Key topics include: manga and anime, contents tourism, fashion, and cultural policy/soft power, among others.

Urban Trends and Futures in Japan/East Asia

East Asian cities have increasingly undergone socio-economic and socio-spatial restructuring in order to respond to local and global processes. Thus, while attending to global drivers of change, this course examines the local/regional dynamics of East Asian cityscapes to shed light onto current urban challenges and prospects. Emphasis throughout the course is placed on cities as spaces of everyday life and spaces of socio-economic change. Key topics include: urban socio-spatial exclusion, gentrification, peri-urbanization, and environmental sustainability, among others.

Women in the Economy

Women face many constraints in their everyday decisions that men do not encounter. As the study of choice, economics provides a uniquely appropriate lens through which to view the decisions made by women, given the obstacles and policies they encounter. Because so many decisions women make involve the labor market, labor economics will be the centerpiece of this course. By the end of the class, the students will have a solid grasp of the ways that the economic outcomes of men and women differ, and they will be able to use and understand the most commonly used analytical tools applied by economists to approach the topic of gender inequality.

Japanese History

As a survey of the political, economic, social, ideological, and foreign policy aspects of Japanese history from 600AD to the economic miracle of the 1980s, this course will focus on Japan's attempts to establish a central government prior to 1600, as well as Japan's quest for national identity and security in the 20th century. Key topics include how geography has shaped Japan's history, the legacy of feudalism, the Meiji Restoration, the road to the Pacific War and Japan's defeat, and Japan's post-war economic growth. Understanding these aspects of Japan's history will help students better understand contemporary Japanese society.

Japanese Cultural History: Ancient and Medieval

This survey course offers a look at Japanese cultural history from the earliest Paleolithic Era human settlements on the archipelago up until the end of the so-called “Age of the Country at War” circa 1600. We will focus on a number of major developments that took place during this extended period, with a particular emphasis on the creation of a centralized government and the gradual, uneven transition from courtier to warrior rule that accompanied and further complicated this shift. In addition, students will also analyze how these larger trends influenced some of the specific cultural practices developed and maintained by people who lived during these tumultuous times.

History of Modern Japan

In a survey of modern Japan, from the time of the Tokugawa Shogunate up to the recent past, this course provides students with a broad survey of the political, economic, social and cultural developments in Japan. Major themes include the rise and fall of the Shogunate; the "opening" of the nation; economic and technological development under the Meiji government; the crises of the Taisho and Showa eras; Japan at war; and the postwar economic "miracle." By the end of the course, students will have acquired a broad general knowledge of the history of modern Japan; be able to communicate effectively and analyze complex questions about the history of modern Japan; and be able to understand the history of modern Japan within world history.

Japanese Cultural History: Early Modern and Modern

The most basic aim of this course is to provide an approachable and wide-ranging survey of early modern and modern Japanese history, a period spanning from the late sixteenth century to the present. In addition, this class is also designed to foster curiosity and compel deeper historical inquiry into the thorny question of how individuals relate to society. Students will examine not only many of the major political, social, economic, and intellectual developments that have accompanied Japan’s emergence as a world power, but also employ methods of cultural history in order to investigate how people ranging from government leaders to average citizens have attempted to define and explain their various roles and responsibilities in early modern and modern Japan.

20th Century Asian History through Film

Film is an exciting medium to approach the study of history. In the course, students will engage in debate on how historical films portray the past, whether they can or should strive for historical accuracy, and to what degree they present opinions or interpretations of the past. Students will explore twentieth century Asian history through the analysis of a wide variety of films which portray the history of the time period and place. By the end of the course, students will be able to reference a wide range of historical films and produce an analytical film review essay which places a film in historical context and engage in debate on film representation.

International Business Law

This course will provide students with a basic and broad understanding of the international legal frameworks regulating businesses conducted on a global basis, focusing on case laws in which Japanese multinational corporations encountered in U.S. or other foreign jurisdictions. The ultimate objectives of the course will be to nourish the reading comprehension of the students regarding business and legal English, enhance their competency of logical thinking, and develop their presentation skills through analysis, briefing and presentation of actual precedents adjudicated by U.S. or other foreign court judges.

The Struggle for Justice

How does the criminal justice system in Japan differ from other Asian countries? With a main emphasis on Japanese criminal justice, this course will examine how the Japanese criminal justice produces one of the lowest rates of crime in the developed world. Students will discover why Japanese prosecutors win 99.98% of their trials and will learn the why the vast majority of criminal suspects ultimately confess.

East Asian Literature and Culture in Translation

What insights can contemporary Asian literature reveal about culture, politics, gender and history? Through an examination of East Asian literature, photographs, music, and film from Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and more, this course will examine the intensive process of globalization in this region as well as the current rapidly growing inter-Asian cultural flows. Moving beyond the selected texts as part of a literary/art genre, students will envision how these cultural productions are inseparable from our living surroundings, and how these texts shape social memories, traditional Asian values, gender roles, nationalisms, and historical traumas.

Urban Culture Asia

Urban cultures in Asian societies are multi-layered and intricate. The question of urban Asia acquires new significance currently as the impact of globalization and advancement of digital technology have created a thriving East Asian cultural market and active exchanges of pan-Asian popular cultures among different locations. Looking into various forms of urban culture in contemporary Asian societies (fiction, musicals, films, sporting events, current examples of K-pop fandom and related boy-bands and girl-groups, etc.) students will be engaged in critical discussions about how people experience patterns of cultural expressions that are not readily reduced singular narrative.

Kojiki to Haruki: Literary Representations of Diverse Eras

Students will discover the essence of Japanese literature in this unique course that traces the development and adoption of literature into society. Students will analyze literary works from each period of Japanese history and realize the significance of literature—both past and present as a means of understanding Japanese culture and society. The course will further examine how the rapid and dramatic transformation of Japan influenced the diversification and evolution of literature. The course is divided into sections—ancient, classical, and medieval, concentrating on the pre-war and post-war periods.

Kodai to Gendai: Influences of Literature on Japanese Society & Culture

The rich history of Japanese society and culture has played a vital role in shaping modern-day Japan. Through the study of various socio-cultural practices and phenomena such as mythology, religion, education, and globalization, students in this course examine critical developments in Japanese history. Each module of the course is structured around a social or cultural subject with emphasis on their critical aspects that can deepen and broaden historical understandings of Japanese society and culture.

Geisha, Gangsters and Samurai: Japan in Western Film

Since the earliest days of cinema, Westerner filmmakers have used Japan as a mirror in which to reflect upon their own societies. At times they have portrayed Japan as a utopian world that exposed the problems of the West. At other times they have emphasized problems in Japanese culture in order to exalt Western values. Through it all has been a highly gendered narrative—Japan as the paradoxical land of the ultra feminine geisha and extremely masculine samurai and gangsters. This course looks at how and why these contradictory images coexist so easily within the Western cinematic imagination.

Documenting Japan: Film and Photography as Cultural Description

The phrases “the camera never lies,” “seeing is believing” and “a picture is worth a thousand words” are often heard. This course provides an introduction to the field of visual anthropology, with a focus on documentary films and photographic projects. Visual anthropology strives to visualize the invisible – knowledge, values, morals, beliefs, perceptions, capabilities and private spaces. Films and photography dealing with Japan will be examined, analyzed and evaluated in terms of providing understanding of Japanese culture.

Japanese Popular Media and Culture

Through the use of popular media (primarily manga, anime and television dramas), this course will examine various aspects of Japanese history, culture, and civil society. This includes investigating the religious, social, and political conditions that gave rise to these media, as well as their uses as tools of governmental control, means of political resistance, and vehicles for reflecting on social issues and problems. The business of Japanese manga, anime, and television, their connections to other forms of art and entertainment, their impact on the popular media of other countries, and their influence on foreign images of Japan will also be examined.

Monsters, Ghosts and the Making of Modern Japan

The Japanese popular imagination has always been haunted by myriad monsters and ghosts, which have both frightened and entertained. But these are by no means the only two roles these creatures have played in Japanese history. This class looks at the religious, social and political uses of the supernatural in literature, art, film, manga, anime, and other popular media. The goal is to understand the many ways in which monsters and ghosts have symbolized and personified the problems, hopes and fears of the Japanese, and have facilitated their search for meaning and identity from pre-modern times to the present day.

Japanese Music

Beginning with gagaku, music of the early imperial court, this survey course will cover the major genres of Japanese music and end with student presentations exploring any of the musical forms covered in class to J-pop. The primary aim is for the students to develop a familiarity with the various musical genres and the musical instruments and structures of each genre through listening exercises. Other themes to be explored throughout the semester with secondary readings are the relationship of musical genre with social class, the continuing dialectic between high culture and low, and the classification of popular musical genres.

International Relations of Asia

International relations of Asia are complex and are more and more taking center stage in world politics. The region embodies enormous potential, represented by explosive economic growth and vibrant societies. It also contains major risks to regional and global stability, rooted in conflicting national interests and identities and strategic competition among great powers. The course focuses on strategic aspects related to the growing security tensions within the region. It applies international relations theories to cover historical developments, key actors in Asian politics (U.S, China, Japan, India, ASEAN), and key issues (the rise of China, Taiwan, the Korean peninsula, regional cooperation.)

Politics and Security Challenges in East Asia

How have history and politics shaped security in East Asia? This course provides insight into sources of state behaviour and prospects for regional stability and instability. Particular attention is given to the foundations of tensions between China, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, North Korea, and South Korea as they negotiate their changing economic and military status. In addition, this course also considers some implications for Australian policy towards the region.

Can We Enforce Human Rights?: Understanding and Evaluating Human Rights Enforcement Mechanisms in Asia

It's been said that almost all states obey international human rights obligations almost all of the time, but what happens when they don't? What systems exist to compel states to uphold their international human rights obligations? This upper-level course will survey the global human rights landscape, from Eastern and Western philosophical underpinnings, the codification of human rights norms in national courts, and a thorough examination of United Nations human rights enforcement mechanisms, including the Universal Periodic Review. This interdisciplinary course will introduce case studies from Japan and broader Asia as evidence of state compliance.

Tyrants, Dictators and Strongmen: Exploring Authoritarian Rule in Asia and the Struggle for Democracy

More than half of Asia has never known democracy—and may never will. Do Asian countries really prefer strong, authoritarian leadership? Asia has a rich history of colorful, yet autocratic rulers—from Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, to the current military junta in Thailand.
This interdisciplinary course offers a fresh look at the prospects for democracy in the region, with distinct case studies from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines. Through multiple lenses and larger-than-life personalities, students will explore the symptoms and causes of authoritarianism in Asia.

Globalization, Culture & Identity in East Asia

Contemporary discussions of globalization will be put into historical perspective in this unique course, through an examination of the interactions of East Asian states have with each other and the rest of the world. Specifically, it focuses on how globalization affects the formation of culture and identity in East Asian nations. Students will examine the different ways in which East Asian communities interact and exchange ideas and culture and material goods. This course will also examine how different modes such as travel and tourism and globalizing forms of popular culture contribute to identity formation in East Asian nations.

Foreign Policy Analysis: Cases from Asia

Politics is all about decision. International politics is not an exception. Then, who makes decisions in international politics? Traditional theories in international politics has emphasized the state and the structure that their relations build while the liberal tradition focuses on international organizations and the regimes created among the states. However, the state and international organizations are actually made of human beings who make actual decisions in the name of the entities to which they belong. Since the early post-war period, a group of scholars have emphasized the need to look into the 'black box' to see the actual decision-making process. This tradition that pays more attention to the actual decision-makers has developed into a field named "foreign policy analysis." This course is an attempt to understand the evolution of the Foreign Policy Analysis and how it can be applied to the explanation of actual cases, particularly the cases from Asia.

Global Diplomacy and Asia: Modern History and Implications

The recent international politics in East Asia has ignited numerous debates about the relevance of modern European diplomatic history to East Asia. This course examines major historical developments in global diplomacy and their impact on East Asia since the 19th century. Participants analyze major diplomatic strategies, such as balance of power, appeasement, deterrence, and containment, while investigating aspects of decision-making during international crises. It also pays close attention to the roles played by the United States in diplomacy and statecraft in Europe and East Asia. The implication of history on recent international relations of East Asia will be analyzed.

International History of East Asia (from the late 19th century to the late 20th century)

This course examines how and why different international systems rose and declined in the Asia-Pacific region during the twentieth century, by analyzing inter-locking relations among China, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. It pays particular attention to three shaping forces of international history: power competition, pursuit of economic interest, and inter-cultural relations among countries and people in the region. The course also examines major sources of foreign policies of the countries involved in the region: roles played by central decision-makers, domestic political context, and the constraints and opportunities offered by the international environment. This interdisciplinary course includes opportunities for students to deal with primary historical sources.

Japanese Politics and Public Policy from a Theoretical Perspective

As an upper-level introduction to Japanese politics, primarily after WWII, this course will first be focusing on explaining the rise of the LDP, its long-term dominance, ultimate collapse, and re-emergence as the strongest party in Japan. Second, students will explore the rise of Japan's post-war economy and subsequent decline. Third, the class will address Japan's set of increasingly complex foreign policy arrangements and contemporary battle over constitutional reform (especially focused on Article 9). Finally, the course will examine the interesting world of collusion between political elites and non-state specialists in violence.

Japan and Nuclear Weapons

The nuclear weapon is the single most lethal instrument of war that the human race ever invented. Its sheer destructive force itself justifies the interest in it. However, nuclear weapons also have a great impact on international politics as well as on Japan, which is the only country to have sustained the full force of nuclear weapons. All the countries in the world including Japan after they watched or experienced the formidable impact of the nuclear weapon in the actual battlefield in 1945 have to answer three questions: Should states acquire this absolute weapon; is it good to spread nuclear weapons across countries; and could or should states use this weapon if necessary? This course will be a journey to find answers to these questions.

Political Economy and Public Policy from an East Asian Perspective

Through scientifically based theories (as opposed to normative ones) and issues pertinent to global political economy, this course will examine the political, economic, and social conditions conducive to the development of cooperative behavior on a global scale. Students will cover the main questions and puzzles in this sub-field of political science, and the discipline's best answers to date--and in doing so--will utilize illustrative cases from East Asia (principally Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China) as prisms with which to understand the theories presented.

Asian Regionalism and Economic Development

With the goal of providing an overview of Asia as a region, this course begins first by addressing the nature, functional principles, leadership, and policy making process of Asian regionalism. It will also introduce and assess the origins and its developments of leading regional cooperation mechanisms: ASEAN, Six-Party Talks (Northeast Asian Security Cooperation Architecture), SAARC, and SCO. The second part of the course will focus on the key factors that influence growth and development in Asian economies.

Religion in Japan

Providing an introduction to the most important types of religious expression in Japan, this course will cover ancestor worship, Shinto, Buddhism, and the New Religions, with a focus on contemporary beliefs and practices, especially religion that is encountered every day. Various approaches to the interpretation of religion will be discussed. Topics include: the fox deity; Yasukuni Shrine controversy; Tenrikyo; Soka Gakkai; Buddhist heavens and hells; Buddhist Pure Land; rites for aborted fetuses. This course is open to students at all levels.


Shinto, the ancient religion of Japan, is an important part of the Japanese cultural imagination. Shinto is visible everywhere, and there are few Japanese people who do not have some contact with Shinto, many of them on a regular basis. Yet it is not easy to answer the question, “What is Shinto?” Students in this course will examine Shinto from as many perspectives as possible: religious, philosophical, anthropological, and political. Students are encouraged to explore Shinto in today’s Japan as part of their coursework.

Zen Buddhism

Buddhism, like any religion, provides answers to the “big questions” of human existence: How did human life first occur? Why do tragedies happen? What happens after death? How should we lead our daily lives? This course presents an overview of Zen Buddhism, with a focus on these fundamental existential and religious questions. Zen also asks some of its own questions: Is ordinary life in some way incomplete? Can a dog become a Buddha? What is the point of meditation? Specific topics include koans; Bodhidharma, the legendary founder of Zen; Linji, the master of strange words and wild actions. This course emphasizes reading the original Zen texts.

Death in East Asian Thought

While it is an undeniable fact that people die, the interpretation of death varies greatly from culture to culture. Course topics include the afterlife (or non-afterlife); treatment of a corpse; and funeral rituals. The course will look at Confucian, Daoist and Buddhist answers to questions about the meaning of death. Japan is an especially intriguing case, since the two major religious traditions, Buddhism and Shinto, have significantly different conceptions of death and the afterlife. In exploring death in particular Japanese topics include ancestor worship, funeral practices, cemeteries, brain death. Short stories and films will be used. Students are encouraged to do fieldwork.

Marketing Across Cultures

This course will cover readings and discussions on marketing across cultures with a focus on Asia. The course emphasizes the role of diversity in world markets and the importance of local consumer knowledge and marketing practices. A cross-cultural approach is used which compares national marketing systems and local commercial customs in various countries. Finally, the study of interaction between business people from different cultures is discussed and will be simulated in class using case studies. While examples in the course will be global, the focus will be on Asia and in particular Japan.

Management Across Cultures

The management functions of planning, organizing, leading and controlling are at work in every organization. This course explores traditional management theories and principles in each of these areas, as well as explores the demand for management innovation in order to better meet the needs of organizations in the 21st century. The course will also address how cultural values and beliefs shape the management practices of communication, decision making, leadership, planning, and organizational structures in businesses throughout the world. Japanese management principles will also be briefly addressed.

Managing Yourself for Career Success

This practical class leverages the instructor’s extensive multi-industry and multi-function experiences including as a CFO of several companies, and as an executive coach. This class invites the student on a journey of deep personal exploration and development with the explicit goal of developing specific habits and skills that will lead to greater short- and long-term career success. The course next prepares the student for critical moments in the start of a new job, and guides the student to develop a set of skills to navigate the open and hidden minefields in the office’s political environment.

Japanese Management: A Global Perspective

The study of management and leadership presents significant difficulties in separating science from myth and competence from coincidence. This course will explore common aspects of management in Japanese businesses and compare them to those in the West and will explore the experiences of foreign and Japanese leaders in Japan and work to develop an understanding of the skills necessary for foreign leaders to be successful in Japanese organizations. Finally, students will compare the challenges facing Japanese management style in an increasingly global and fast paced marketplace.

Human Resources Management

With an emphasis on Japan and broader Asia, this course will examine the key aspects of human resources management (HRM) in companies, focusing on the connections between organizational strategies and human resources practices. Topics will include strategic human resources management, the legal environment, the analysis and design of work, recruitment and selection, training and development, compensation, performance evaluation, and labor relations.

Corporate Strategy in East Asia

Corporate strategy is a critical component to a firm’s long-term success. This course explores how companies formulate, implement and change their strategies in response to both domestic and international factors. Students will apply the strategic management model to a variety of companies/case studies, with a special emphasis on multi-national companies from China, South Korea, and Japan.

Japanese Business Culture & Practices

How did Japanese business practices and industry evolve and grow to the present? How did pre- and post-war government economic policies, industrial structures, and cultural influences shape Japanese industry and business practices? What is happening with these issues presently? How will Japan business be able to compete? This course traces cultural factors and historical changes, and looks at the future of Japanese companies by looking at innovative companies like Recruit and Softbank. The course introduces typical Japanese companies, cultural business terms, and etiquette to students interested in working for a Japanese/Japan related company in the future.

International Business

This dynamic course explores the basic elements of international business including why companies engage in international business, the different ways of “going global,” how companies select international locations, and how they assess the benefits and risks of international business activities. The course is set up as an international business consulting company with students becoming experts on the cultural, political/legal and economic factors of doing business in various countries in Asia. Case studies are used to illustrate the strategic and operational aspects of doing business internationally.

International Negotiation: Resolving Conflict and Closing the Deal

What negotiation strategies do international companies employ while doing business in Japan? Students in this practical course will come to understand the importance of negotiation in all aspects of their lives and to recognize opportunities to negotiate. The class will aid students in developing the practical skills necessary to improve negotiation outcomes and boost confidence in negotiation skills through focused practice. Finally, students will be able to take advantage of the unusual diversity within the program to recognize the myriad ways in which culture affects the negotiation process and negotiation outcomes.


Introducing key aspects of entrepreneurship and small business management, this course introduces students to essential skills, including business opportunity recognition, business models, entrepreneurial marketing, business plans, and entrepreneurial financing. After completing the course, students will be able to evaluate the quality of a business plan for internal or external use, understand the challenges and complexities related to entrepreneurs and develop practical skills for managing their small businesses.

International Entrepreneurship: Focus on Japan

The role of entrepreneurship in an economy has been well promoted and is of interest to businesspeople, politicians, professors and students. Creating and growing a new venture inside or outside a corporation is a task that few individuals are able to accomplish, even though many have the desire. Entrepreneurship in a foreign market introduces additional challenges and opportunities to the new business owner. This course is based on an understanding of all the functional areas to the new venture creation process with a focus on those aspects that are of particular importance to the foreign business owner in Japan.

International Business Ethics

Numerous recent ethical lapses in the marketplace have brought misery to many and have tarnished the image of entire sectors of the global economy. Now more than ever, international business managers must demonstrate that they can be both moral and profitable. Global citizens and corporate leaders must show that they can think beyond the confines of a single culture's ideas about right and wrong with respect to global commerce. With a concentration on Japan and Asia, this course is designed to broaden a student's perspective on business ethics through consideration of real-world issues and problem solving that any international business manager could face.

Financial and Operational Auditing

Students are introduced to objectives of financial and internal auditing, and the process of auditing by internal and/or outside auditors. The course will introduce standards to help understand the concepts of auditing, and students will learn the importance and necessity of internal control to have a healthy organization through case studies. Some of these case studies will be covered about some Japanese companies to understand their business minds.

Financial Statements Analysis

Accounting concepts and techniques are essential to the administration of business entities. This course focuses on the mechanics of Financial Statements Analysis by going over the financial statements prepared by global entities. This course introduces how to interpret and analyze the financial statements to understand liquidity, activity, profitability and coverages of each entity. As methods to analyze the financial statement, a ratio analysis, a cash flow analysis, and a diagramming are introduced. The students will learn financial situations of some global companies including Japanese companies by analyzing their financial statements.