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As part of MIT's efforts to internationalize its curriculum, the School of Humanities and Social Science (HASS) has designed six new HASS minors in regional studies.
Each program is designed to focus on a country or region by combining study in foreign languages with work in the humanities and arts, social sciences and history.
The new minors are African and African-Diaspora Studies, East Asian Studies, European Studies, Latin American Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Russian Studies (replacing the former Russian minor).
"Regional minors programs offer the student the opportunity to explore the connections among language, culture, society, politics, economics and technology of a particular region or country" said Philip Khoury, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science and minor advisor for Middle Eastern Studies. "The goal of the minor program is to lead the student from the basic language toward a more focused study of the region and to encourage thought about broader analytical and comparative issues."
Headed by Professor Isabelle de Courtivron, head of foreign languages and literatures and minor advisor for European Studies, the HASS Minors Committee approved the programs last year and since September 1992, students have been able to submit applications.
Two of these are Mia Sakata, a senior majoring in economics and minoring in East Asian Studies, and Helene Grogan, a junior minoring in Russian Studies.
"I think it's really a great thing, otherwise, I wouldn't have taken the course I'm taking now about World War II in Asia," said Ms. Sakata. "I will probably use my Japanese language skills in my work, but beyond practical reasons, I was interested in learning more about Japanese culture and other Asian cultures." She added, "one good thing about the program is it incorporates so many different fields."
Ms. Sakata is now interested in pursuing a master's degree in East Asian Studies as a result of her introduction to the field through the minor program.
"The fact that courses complement each other really appeals to me," said Ms. Grogan. This feature of the regional minors program allows the student to see the connections between various disciplines. "Studying just language courses felt too narrow for me," continued Ms. Grogan. "With the Russian Studies Minor, I am broadening my scope by incorporating poli-sci and history. I like it so much, I am thinking about doing a major."
The minor programs consist of six subjects arranged in four areas of study: (Area I) Language, (Area II) Humanities and the Arts, (Area III) Social Science, and (Area IV) Historical Studies. Students are expected to have two intermediate subjects in foreign language (Level III and IV) and then choose four additional courses from the three remaining groups. A typical course of study might be planned as follows for a Minor in East Asian Studies. Two intermediate language classes to satisfy Area I, possibly Japanese III and Japanese IV. For Area II, a possible combination would be Introduction to Chinese Classical Fiction and Introduction to Japanese Culture. Then a course in Area III, for instance, Political Economy of Asia. For Area IV, Historical Studies, the student could take East Asian History: China, for example, or World War II in Asia: Film, Fantasy, Fact. In some cases, subjects taken at Harvard and Wellesley under the cross-registration agreement may be used toward these minor programs. However, the number of non-MIT subjects which may count toward the minor is limited.
For more information on the HASS Minors in Regional Studies, call the HASS Office at x3-4441.
A version of this article appeared in the April 28, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 30).