For the past decade or more I’ve observed a clear decline in interest on the part of students at my university in “Asian Studies” (by which I mean here broadly as the desire to learn about Asia).

This trend first became evident at the graduate level, but in the past few years it has started to manifest itself at the undergraduate level as well.

While the indicators of this trend are obvious – fewer people applying to graduate programs, fewer students enrolling in courses focusing on Asia – I have never been able to get anyone to acknowledge that something is actually changing (or has already changed).

Instead, what people keep saying is “We need more money.” But with fewer and fewer students, money isn’t the core problem. The real problem is the issue of why students are not interested in learning about Asia, and what people in the field of (Southeast) Asian Studies should do about that.

Mekong Review

I recently wrote a short piece about this that was published in the above journal. My essay can be read here, but for a mere $3 one can purchase the entire issue here. And for only $12 one can obtain an annual subscription to this wonderful new journal!


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