Asian religions and cultures major now offered at WKU

Hannah Bushon

WKU officials say Asia will play a central role socially, politically and economically in the global community this century.

Students now have a chance to learn more about that role through a new major in the philosophy and religion department called Asian Religions and Cultures.

The new major is a response to a number of things happening in the world as well as WKU, Department Head Eric Bain-Selbo said.

The future prosperity of Kentucky will require a work force and citizens that can think, work and interact on a more globally efficient level, and the major will help students do that, he said.

According to the Asian religions and cultures website, the program will help students not only understand the Asian past, but will put current issues and problems into a broader historical, religious and cultural context.

South, Southeast and East Asia are growing economically and socially, and it would be beneficial for WKU to make developments in the field of Asian studies, assistant history professor Chunmei Du said.

Du said the new major will attract students with a variety of backgrounds and levels of experience with the subject.

Students will learn both content and skills and are required to study culture, history and a prominent Asian language, Bain-Selbo said.

“From linguistic skills to expanding your world view, this major forces you to stretch your mind,” he said. “We think students will come out prepared to live and work in a world that is greatly shaped by this continent which houses most of the world’s population.”

The major requires 33 credit hours, with courses in religion, language, history, politics, and electives, according to the website. Students must also complete a senior project.

“Regardless of the careers that students might pursue after graduating with an ARC degree, they undoubtedly will leave WKU with skills and capacities that will help them to be more successful employees and citizens,” Bain-Selbo said in an e-mail detailing the new major.

Bain-Selbo said the new Asian religions and cultures major is “building onto some interesting and unique things happening within WKU.”

The new major comes as the Confucius Institute and the Chinese Flagship are flourishing, Bain-Selbo said.

The new major is another way for Kentucky to “build connections and partnerships” with China, according to the website.