This course provides students with a look into East Asia’s past and present while incorporating aspects of anthropology, archeology, history, international studies, minority studies, political science, and religious studies. The goal of this module is to help students better understand the cultures and history that have shaped East Asia as we know it today. In attaining this goal, students will sharpen their analytical thinking skills—something required in understanding a part of the world that exists outside of the Western narrative.
Covering roughly 4000 years, the module will begin in Shang Dynasty China and end in modern North Korea. Along the way, we will see how the ancient Chinese divination practices gave rise to two religious traditions that are still very relevant in Eastern thought today: Daoism and Confucianism. We will also examine the Silk Road and see what happened when members from nearly every major (and minor) religion came together in a desert oasis all in the name of commerce. Through student presentations, we will later explore some of the important events and people that shaped Western imperialism in East Asia. After a look at the Mao era, the term will end with an analysis of religious and cultural persecution in modern day China and North Korea.