East Asian Studies Major

In the spring of 1984, the faculty and administrators of Dickinson College approved a new major, East Asian Studies . There were quite a few students already who had a self developed major dealing with either Japanese or Chinese studies. After discussions between faculty that were already teaching a subject related to the the East Asia, the major was developed. Prof. Harry Krebs and Prof. Neil Weissman were the main designers of the major with the help of Prof. Donald Flaherty and Prof. David Strand.1 Finally, the major was passed and officially began in the fall of 1984.

The College had hired a local scholar, Carol Derrickson, who was able to teach Chinese in the early 1980's.2 With the school offering Chinese again, there was a possibility for this major to exist. When the major was finally approved in 1984, the College applied for NEH funding to hire a new professor. They received the funding and hired a professor of Japanese.3  Students could now learn either language, with professors of both Chinese and Japanese, and a myriad of contributing faculty teaching other related courses.

During the first four years of its existence, there were about twenty five students who chose the department as their major. There were five people in 1987 who were the first official graduates of the major, including Ramona Helble, Tina Hwang, Andrew A. Kirk and Katherine Semekis.4

Twenty-two years later, the typical East Asian Studies major spends either a semester or full year in China or Japan.The future of the major indeed seems to have a very sturdy basis. There are plans to expand to include other countries of the Orient than just China and Japan. For example, the department is interested in hiring a professor to teach Korean.6

1.  See Dickinsonian article in attached link
2.  Interview with Professor Harry Krebs, November, 1999
3.  Interview with Professor Krebs
4.  List of East Asian Studies thesis papers courtesy of Professor Krebs
5.  Interview with Professor David Strand, November, 1999
6.  Interview with Professor Strand