Developing A Vision For Your Program

Once you have secured the support of your administration, vision and mission statements can be useful tools in program creation, and can be revisited as a program grows. 

A vision statement reveals the program’s high level, long term goals. It may outline the necessity for the program, can include particular values and beliefs, and often points to the program’s ultimate aims. A mission statement outlines particular goals and commitments for implementation of the program’s vision. 

You may find that working collaboratively to create these statements early in the process energizes the faculty involved and clarifies your shared goals. 

If you already have a vision for your program, proceed to the next Pathway page “Common Administrative Organizational Models.”

What are your goals for developing the study of Asia?

Much like designing a good syllabus, an Asian Studies program should define its objectives. Some of those objectives may be related to learning outcomes for students who are pursuing a major, minor, or certificate, while other objectives may be related to institutional goals such as helping students to better understand Asian cultures and Asia’s evolving role in the world. To help clarify their objectives, Asian Studies programs may develop mission statements.

How does developing the study of Asia relate to your institution’s strategic planning goals?

In order to provide a rationale for expanding or instituting the study of Asia in the curriculum, it is useful to demonstrate how Asian Studies will help the institution to meet broader objectives that may be found in strategic plans or quality enhancement plans. An important way to promote the study of Asia on one’s campus is to link Asian coursework to larger institutional goals, often embodied in the form of “globalizing the curriculum,” an element in strategic plans. 

Because Asia plays a very important and growing role in global dynamics, a strong case can be made for expanding the study of Asia on campuses, especially in pursuit of globalizing the curriculum.

In your Asian Studies program, what role will Asian languages play?

Many Asian Studies programs developed out of the study of Asian languages and literature. In particular, Japanese and Chinese language study have been central to many Asian Studies programs and are required elements in many majors. For example, your program may call on its Asian Studies majors to begin their language training early because of its centrality in the curriculum. Some programs that have extensive Asian language offerings include Korean or  Southeast Asian or South Asian language courses. Still other Asian Studies programs choose to emphasize area studies courses with minimal language requirements, even while still offering extensive language training and language majors and minors for those who choose them. Of course, if your institution seeks to include Asian Studies courses to the general education curriculum, or to develop a new Asian Studies minor, or to have Asia included as part of an international or global studies major or minor, the role of Asian languages might be limited or take time to develop.

In your Asian Studies program what role will study abroad play?

A goal of Asian Studies and international studies, more broadly, is to have students experience the countries and cultures that they study. In fact, most Asian Studies programs require their majors to study abroad, which improves students’ language training and deepens their understanding of Asian countries. 

How will you define “Asia?” What role will Asian American Studies have in your curriculum?

Institutions in the US most commonly define “Asia” broadly to include East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and, in some cases, Central Asia. Other programs may focus primarily on East Asia, including Japan, China, the Korean peninsula, and in some cases Vietnam. In the last two decades, the rise of Diasporic Studies such as Africana Studies has led some institutions to include Asian American Studies within their Asian Studies or American Studies programs. The number of stand-alone Asian American Studies programs and centers is expanding, with more than 60 already established in the US and Canada, and several more programs operating as concentrations or minors in larger departments such as Ethnic Studies or Diasporic Studies. While good arguments can be made for each of these configurations, it makes sense for an institution to build its Asian Studies program around the resources that it has available. 

Common Administrative Organizational Models

Should you try to create a department or interdisciplinary program?

The major difference between a department and a program is usually structural, though methodological distinctions can also play a role in the designation. A department may include several programs; a program can also stand alone. At the same time, a program is often supported by faculty members housed administratively in different departments. 

Here again, the type of program you can develop will depend primarily on your faculty and their curricular offerings.

After developing your program’s vision, mission statement, and the role it will play at your institution, you will want to assess your human and material resources. At this point, a strategic plan for development can be a useful guide. In some cases, additional financial resources or new faculty lines may be sought. An alternative to hiring new faculty is to train existing faculty to offer new courses, or even modules within existing courses, on Asia.