Japanese Studies at Earlham is about encountering the complex histories, societies and cultures that both comprise and are embodied in the nation of Japan. Student encounters with Japan take a variety of forms, from academic courses focusing on arts, literature, society and culture; to in-depth language study; to interactions with Japanese students on campus; to immersive study abroad experiences. At Earlham College, Japanese Studies students develop not only a depth and breadth of knowledge concerning Japan, but also tangible knowledge, experiences and skill sets that help carry them into the next stages of their academic or professional careers. Indeed, the next best thing to being in Japan is being at Earlham.
Scholarship about Japan has a long history at Earlham and our connections with Japan run deep. For more than 50 years, Earlham has been a leader in undergraduate education focused on Japan. In addition to Japanese language classes from beginning to advanced levels, we offer classes related to Japan across the curriculum: in anthropology, music, environmental studies, religion, music, art, history, literature, linguistics and beyond. At Earlham, students can pursue their own encounters with Japan through a variety of pathways.
In addition, each year Earlham welcomes leading scholars of Japan to campus through the Jackson H. Bailey Memorial Lecture. Recent lecturers include Christine R. Yano, Daniel P. Aldrich and Alex Kerr. Lecturers often visit classes and have informal conversations with students.
Special Learning Opportunities
Japanese Studies students have many opportunities to immerse themselves in Japanese society and culture through off-campus study, research, internships, campus programs, and post-graduate opportunities.
Earlham students can choose to spend a full year or spring semester taking classes at Waseda University in Japan, with which Earlham has had a partnership with 50 years. Students who would like a more “hands-on” experience in Japan can join the fall semester SICE (Studies in Cross-Cultural Education) program in Morioka, where they spend two and a half days each week in local middle schools assisting with the teaching of English. Many of these students return to Morioka after graduation to serve two-year teaching contracts.
In-between semesters, Japanese Studies students have worked at the Concordia Language Village Mori no Ike and at the Keio Academy in Purchase, N.Y., where staffers speak Japanese and teach culture during summer youth camps. Our students also have secured unpaid internships at the Embassy of Japan in Washington DC, the Japan Society in New York, and various Japanese Consulates and Japan America Society offices throughout the United States.
Earlham’s Japanese Studies students are active in the Japan-America Student Conference (JASC), a student-led exchange program where equal numbers of students from the U.S. and Japan are selected to spend one summer month together, studying and analyzing Japan-U.S. relations while visiting four diverse regions in the host country.
Earlham College Japanese Studies graduates have gone on to careers in both Japan and the US in corporate consulting, global sales, education, government, communication and translation.
Post-graduate and professional opportunities include the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program (JET), a program aimed at promoting grassroots international exchange between Japan and other nations. It is one of the largest cultural exchange programs in the world. Typically several Earlham graduates participate in the program each year.
Recent graduates are placed each year in the Morioka Assistant Language Teacher Program, which is similar to JET but exclusive to Earlham. These are paid two-year English teaching assistant positions with the Morioka Board of Education in Iwate Prefecture.
In addition, Earlham graduates have received Blakemore Asian Language, Fulbright and Watson fellowships as well as Monbukagakusho Research Scholarships, which offer recipients the opportunity to spend 18 or 24 months conducting independent research with a Japanese professor.
Earlhamites in Japanese Studies
On Point in Asia
David Shear '75, who is set to be nominated as the next Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia and the Pacific, says he entered the foreign service “completely by chance,” though he says that his study of Japan as an Earlham student clearly had something to do with it.More
Chance Milligan '13 uses his study of Human Development and Social Relations to think critically about global issues. More