The Asian Languages and Cultures (ALC) department hosted a symposium on Friday, April 20, 2018, to highlight Asian studies students and the departments’ new degree program. The symposium brought together members of the UW-Madison community to showcase student opportunities and experiences with Asian Studies offered by the university.
Asian Studies participants showcased the impacts Asia has had on their experiences at UW-Madison through conversation, dance, photography and musical performances. “I want to highlight how important it is to use language and cultural understanding to improve work in any field that you’re in,” Hannah, a student of Hindi and Biomedical Engineering said. “People who are in STEM don’t feel they have the tools to succeed in the humanities or language or cultural studies, but I know, from even this early on in my career how impactful this knowledge is going to be on my career as an engineer,” Hannah continued.
David Burnett, a second year UW-Madison student was one of the performers at this symposium, giving a performance in Chinese. Burnett took 2 years of Japanese at Madison West high school before spending 9 months abroad with a Chinese host family. Burnett will be spending the fall semester of the 2018-2019 school year at National Taiwan University furthering his language and culture studies. A performance was also given by Anaguma Eisa, an Okinawan folk-dance group encouraging people of all ages to develop their full potential through cultural understanding and performing arts.
UW-Madison Professor Rania Huntington is one of the faculty members of this new department. “The Asian Languages and Cultures department’s mission is to increase student understanding of the languages and cultures of Asia, not just learning about these languages and cultures, but learning from them,” Huntington said. “It’s not like this is going to be finished in a 4-year degree, but we want students to graduate with the tools to be lifelong learners in learning about Asian languages and cultures,” Huntington continued.
UW-Madison Professor Steve Ridgley is chair of this new department. He is a scholar of modern Japanese literature whose latest research focuses on the intersection of contemporary ideas of science and math with Japanese fiction.
Rachel Weiss is the department’s undergraduate adviser and graduate coordinator. Rachel is key to helping students navigate this new department.
The new ALC degree will have four concentrations: East Asian studies, South Asian studies, South East Asian studies, and Trans-Asian studies. The department will also continue to offer the Chinese major, Japanese major, Certificate in Japanese Professional Communication, and Certificate in Chinese Professional Communication.
The ALC undergraduate major will become available to students in the fall of 2019. The student symposium will be a capstone requirement for future ALC majors.