College adds Japanese Studies to list of majors

By Sarah Pickerel

Students will now have another option to chose from as UK added Japanese Studies to the list of majors after its approval at the Board of Trustees’ June meeting.

Program Director Doug Slaymaker said in a UK news release that the addition of the program through the College of Arts and Sciences topical studies program came as no surprise after years of watching student’s growing interest in Asian studies.

“Students have been clamoring for a Japanese major,” Slaymaker said in the news release. “We’ll be able to provide a richer experience for students on campus.”

Chase Lacas, president of the Japanese Culture in Kentucky Society, said the possibility of such a richer experience was exactly what originally drew him to UK’s campus.

“Before I came to UK, there were limited options for me to do anything involving Asian studies. One of the main reasons I chose UK was because it offered the few courses it did in Japanese studies,” Lacas said. “Now that they’re adding even more, I can pursue something that’s truly in my interest.”

Lacas now plans to major in Japanese Studies and said he’s excited for other students to no longer be limited and have the opportunity to pursue their interest in Asian studies that they couldn’t before.

“I think having this major will really help give me some credibility when I try to pursue a career in Japan,” Lacas said.  “Adding so many new courses will allow for new opportunities for people who want to come here and study the culture and language.  Hopefully it will attract a lot more people who have the interest.”

Devan Trenkamp, a sophomore at UK, said she believes all students will benefit from the addition of the program.

“Even though I don’t plan to make it my major, I still think it’s great that UK is making a conscious effort to provide more options for students and meet their needs,” Trenkamp said.

Slaymaker said growing interest in Asian studies and The Japan Foundation, Japan’s leading public organization, both played a large role in the creation of the Japanese Studies Major.

“The foundation has been great to us,” Slaymaker said. “Kentucky has been underrepresented in this realm, but they’ve helped to start Japan Studies at UK, and now the major gives us an even stronger foundation for expansion.”

Lacas said he sees this expansion as something that adds to UK’s un­­­­iqueness.

“This addition makes UK unique because it makes us one of the few colleges that will offer a program that can provide in depth study into Asian culture and language,” Lacas said.

According to a UK news release, at least eight professors from other colleges and departments, including the College of Fine Arts, the College of Agriculture and College of Arts and Sciences will augment the program. The Japanese Studies Major, which will be housed in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Culture will offer students courses in language, literature, business, geography, film and economic courses.

“The major is interdisciplinary as well as intercollegial.  UK’s Japan Studies Program will feature four years of language, which will facilitate study of Japanese culture within the department,” Slaymaker said in a UK news release. “We are also hoping students will be attracted to a future teaching the language.”

Students can now receive either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science with the Japanese Language and Literature major starting in the fall 2010 semester.  For more information on UK’s Japan Studies major, contact Slaymaker at [email protected]