European Studies

Invitation to European Studies

Although the Japanese have a tendency to lump the United States and Europe together under the broad heading of “Western culture” or “Western society,” Europe differs from the United States in important ways. While Europe, like the United States, has been a world leader in many areas, it often seems that the real source of Europe’s power lies more in the region’s pluralism than in the economic or military might of its individual countries. Europe’s diverse peoples, religions, and languages have given birth to rich and complex cultural traditions. To be sure, European history has also been marked by the rise of great powers that have sought to subjugate the rest of the world, as well as by regional wars rooted in ethnic, religious, and linguistic differences. Today, however, Europe appears wholly committed to the path of coexistence as it works to overcome internal ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and religious differences and transcend narrow national interests without sacrificing diversity.

Learning about such a region’s past and present while speculating on its future is a stimulating and rewarding undertaking in and of itself. At the same time, we have much to learn from the European experience as we chart a course for our own nation as a member of the Asian Region. After all, Asia embraces even greater ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and religious diversity than Europe and must overcome a host of challenges to achieve reconciliation and ensure lasting peace. In this sense, to study Europe is to contemplate our own future.

Academic Aims of the European Studies Concentration 

1. To develop a clear geographic and historical understanding of Europe’s regional identity and approach it in a flexible and open-minded manner, unconfined by national borders and the narrow framework of the nation-state.

2. To deepen one’s own learning through wide-ranging study of European religion, society, culture, politics, and economics.

3. To marshal one’s command of foreign language for the purpose of sound research, analysis, and discussion of matters pertaining to Europe.

4. To achieve a comprehensive understanding of Europe as a region while maintaining an outsider’s ability to examine it objectively and critically.

Curriculum of the European Studies Concentration 

In the European Studies concentration, students have an opportunity both to develop a wide-ranging knowledge of the region and to pursue more intensive studies, in accordance with their own interests, in any of the following areas: (1) the European region as a whole, (2) a specific European country or sub-region, (3) relations or comparisons between specific European countries or sub-regions, and (4) the European Union or relations between the EU and any of its member states. The European Studies concentration welcomes students from all of the faculty’s departments, encouraging them to take an interdisciplinary approach and adopt a “European” perspective transcending any one language area.

Introductory Courses

Students who select the European Studies concentration begin as early as their first year by taking the concentration’s required introductory courses. The first is Survey of European History, which provides an overview of the historical background on which research in European studies, whether contemporary or historical, must be premised. Other introductory courses (see below) provide a grounding in such subjects as European languages and society, as well as culture, the arts, politics, and economics.

Selected Course Offerings :

Survey of European History
European Religion and Society
European Arts and Culture

Core Courses

After laying a foundation for study and research in the field by completing a selection of introductory courses, second-year students begin to develop expertise in various areas through the concentration’s core courses. The European Studies concentration offers more than 100 courses grouped into the four subject domains of History, Religion & Society, Arts, and Politics & Economics and encompassing the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Portugal, and Russia. Students are free either to concentrate their coursework in a specific subject area or to range across several domains. Choosing from our rich and varied course offerings according to their own interests, they expand their horizons while gradually zeroing in on a specialized topic of research for their graduation thesis.

Selected Course Offerings :

(Courses followed by an [E] are taught in English)
Modern German History
History of the Francophone World
British Culture and Fiction [E]
European Political Economy
Language and Society on the Iberian Peninsula
European Cinema [E]

Seminar Courses

In seminar courses, open to third- and fourth-year students, learning is a student-directed process. Instead of passively receiving knowledge from the instructor, students choose research topics based on questions and concerns of their own, find and read relevant literature on the topic, conduct field research, analyze and interpret the data, and finally write up their research in the form of a graduation thesis. Seminars are an opportunity for students to sum up their college experience in a final research project that makes the most of the language skills they built through departmental work and brings their concentration studies to fruition. Like the core courses, the European Studies seminars are grouped into the four domains of History, Religion & Society, Arts, and Politics & Economics. They are taught by more than 20 faculty members from six different departments.

Selected Course Offerings :

Seminar in German Politics
Seminar in French Religion
Seminar in Spanish Art
Seminar in Pop Culture