While each of these two seminars will have its own specific regional focus, the shared goal of the learning community is for students to become familiar with concrete examples of Asian environments and their dynamics, from an interdisciplinary perspective.  Through the comparative exploration of upland and tropical Asia, students will explore how culture matters in the way humans relate to, and change, their local environments.  In addition to the perspectives of the two faculty members from East Asian Studies and Anthropology, students will have the opportunity to interact with a visiting scholar from China.

Learning Community Coordinator

Your learning community faculty will be assisted by a student "learning community coordinator." The LCC assists the faculty in the planning and coordination of out-of-classroom LC experiences, and works with the learning community students directly to explore the learning community themes.

LCCHexi Zhang is an international student from Nanjing, China.  He is a prospective International Studies major, with a focus on east Asia.  He is completing a course on Asian Urban Ecology, and  in the Fall, he will be studying traditional and contemporary Chinese approaches to the environment.  He plays the violin, and loves to swim and cook.  During Fall 2014, he will be living in the Global Community House, and he looks forward to introducing LC students to the international students in the Global Community House.

 Culture and Environment in Upland Asia

 Upland Asia in this course is the broad swath of rugged terrain running south and southeast from the Tibetan Plateau to the mountains of mainland Southeast Asia.   Historically, it has been a sparsely populated area, relative to Asia’s vast lowland communities dependent on wet rice agriculture.  While by no means isolated from markets and changing technology, people in upland areas developed more sustainable agricultural systems than lowlanders.  Recently these flexible agricultural systems have been radically disrupted, as people have begun large-scale cash cropping and migrating to cities.  Uplanders also differ markedly from lowlanders in their cultures and how their non-centralized societies are organized.  However, all populations in the East and Southeast Asian regions have been affected by long term changes in climate that have impacted the monsoons, population levels, and crops, for example, as well as social phenomena, such as migrations and warfare.   This seminar is mainly concerned with how to understand the relationships between upland communities and the changing environments, both natural and social, that they inhabit.     

Professor:  Ann Hill, Anthropology
Time: 11:30 MWF

Tropical Asia

Nearly one in four human beings today lives in the generally hot and wet region known as “Tropical Asia.”  He or she might live in a giant nation like India or along the southern boundary of that other Asian giant China, or in a tiny country like Singapore or Brunei.  Tropical Asia includes islands with the appearance of paradise like Bali and landlocked and impoverished nations like Laos.  Most tropical Asians are bound by climate, history and culture to the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea and the monsoon storms, trade routes, wars, migrations, and occasional typhoon or tsunami that plow, sail and roil their surface.  We will explore the complex and dynamic interface between the natural and human worlds in topics like the monsoon season, rice paddy agriculture, rain forests, kingdoms and empires, dangerous and endangered animals, religious pilgrims and proselytizers, global adventurers and tourists, tropical architecture, geopolitical pasts and futures, and the recent rise of what the Singaporean writer Cherian George terms the modern “air-conditioned nation.”

Professor: David Strand, East Asian Studies
Time: 11:30 MWF