Studies & Degrees in South and South East Asian Studies
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South East Asian Studies is a multifaceted and interdisciplinary academic program that explores the sub-region of Asia. The countries, which are geographically south of China, north of Australia, and east of India, are subdivided into two geographic regions namely: the Asian mainland and island arcs and archipelagos to the east and southeast. The mainland region, which is also called the Indochina, consists of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. The maritime region or the archipelagic region consists of India, Brunei, East Malaysia, Indonesia, East Timor, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, and the Philippines.
The program of South East Asian Studies aims to promote education, research, and academic exchange of each country’s culture, politics, and economies. By looking at both historical and contemporary aspects of each field, e.g. culture, politics, and economics, students under the program will acquire a comprehensive program that will result in better understanding. Interactive learning experiences from diverse resources and study of Asian languages, literatures, and cultures of South East Asian countries are highlighted.
The breadth and depth of the program’s curriculum is immense. Thus, students are immersed to flexible and well-facilitated training environment conducted by highly-qualified teachers and lecturers who have acquired further studies of the subject they are teaching. Both undergraduates and graduates of South East Asian Studies chose to embark on taking the program to broaden their knowledge and open new learning opportunities related to Southeast Asian societies.
Universities and colleges offering the course also include in their curriculum other subject areas equally related to the main study which are: economics, geography, history, art, archeology, law, linguistics, management, music, social anthropology, religions, and politics among others. The mention fields of studies are known as the South East Asian Studies components.
Students who want to pursue intensive or intense study of language and its literature, while earning broader inquiries of the major subjects like the religions of traditional and contemporary South East Asian countries can do as they wish. Other major programs can be taken while completing the entire course and such programs involve study of South East Asian civilizations, depending on the focus of their main study.
As students pursue their study, they will learn relevant aspects of the program as they concentrate on unraveling the facts, history, and components of this dynamic region of the world. With the faculty expertise of the university offering the course, students will have strong and influential source of knowledge as they acquire their background on South East Asian studies. The kind of education that they will acquire will serve as their ultimate weapon in preparing themselves for a wide range of careers in the academe and the society from which they belong.
Moreover, if the student manages to develop language proficiency in one of the languages of the region, more opportunities are at stake, not to mention the fact that students are able to better appreciate the role of the region in the development of world’s history given the adequate instructional materials and guidance of adept faculty staff.
East and Southeast Asian studies concentrate on countries like China, Japan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore. The studies explore the various aspects of East and Southeast Asian culture, history, and current developments. This involves a focus on politics, economics, religion, language, and various other aspects of society. What is most important is that the course will aim to provide an in-depth understanding of all these aspects of the countries. Therefore, the classes go far beyond the intermediate level of understanding. Students thoroughly explore past and current leaders of these countries, the social movements within them, while also learning a number of languages. Cultural coursework would provide a close examination of the literature and culture of these regions, including popular books, poetry, drama, and authors of the region. Students would also explore the international relations of these countries, their modernization, and most probably prepare coursework focusing on the economic growth of the region and the contributions these countries have made to the growth of the global economic environment.
An open-minded, explorative nature will very much suit such a course. Some other qualities include:
- Excellent written and oral communication skills
- Very good analytical qualities
- Willingness to travel
- Aptitude for history and languages
- Good memory
The options to pursue a degree in South and Southeast Asian Studies are numerous. There are many universities that have specialized departments offering undergraduate, postgraduate courses, as well as research opportunities in this field. Depending on the school and course you choose, you would either be expected to undergo intensive training in several of the major languages of the area including Bengali, Hindi, Khmer, Indonesian (Malay), Pali, Prakrit, Punjabi, Sanskrit (including Buddhist Sanskrit), Filipino (Tagalog), Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Urdu, and Vietnamese, and specialized training in the areas of literature, philosophy and religion, and general cross-disciplinary studies of the civilizations of South and Southeast Asia. Or, you could focus on one of a number of programs, such as Regional Economic Studies, Regional Strategic and Political Studies, or Regional Social and Cultural Studies. This would provide you with a more focused approach, and you can choose it if you are very clear about what you wish to do later on in your career. An important point to mention is that you should carefully research the resources that your chosen institution would provide for the study of this subject. Because of the wide span of knowledge that you are supposed to gain, they should be equipped with excellent library and electronic resources, as well as seminars, cultural trips, the opportunity for exchange and internship programs, which will enable you to truly dive into the South and Southeast Asian world.
Career options vary significantly with your own goals and aims. When choosing to pursue this degree, you should already have in mind whether you are doing it with the purpose to enter the business, the political world, or you would rather focus on research. A master’s in South and Southeast Asian Studies would be an excellent choice for business students who wish to pursue various ventures in this region. It would also suit a journalist, or a history student, who would like to focus on these countries. You could become a diplomat, you could also work for a non-profit organization with the purpose to support the region, or you could go into further study and research.