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Korea Initiative

History of
Korean Studies
at UW-Madison

Initiative Goals


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Korea Initiative



A Brief History and Present State of Korean Studies at UW-Madison

Since the earliest PhD on Korea was granted in 1929, more than 140 PhDs representing a dozen disciplines have been granted for research related to Korea by the University of Wisconsin – Madison. In 1962, a Department of Chinese was founded, which, after the addition of Japanese and a graduate degree program, became the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature in 1967. Today, the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature offers B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Chinese and Japanese languages, linguistics, literature and thought, and has recently increased its offerings and enrollments in Korean language and area studies courses. Korean language instruction at UW-Madison now includes four years worth of instruction with courses in all four levels offered every year. UW-Madison has a study abroad exchange agreement with Ewha Woman's University for students focusing on Korean language and culture, and is currently investigating establishing additional opportunities for collaboration with other Korean universities.

During the same era, faculty with an interest in East Asia increased on campus and the East Asian Studies Program was established in 1962. At first the East Asian Studies Program had fewer than a dozen faculty, thirty graduate courses, and 80 graduate students in the associated departments. Today the Center for East Asian Studies as a whole has over 70 core and associate faculty members who teach some 240 undergraduate and graduate East Asia-related courses through 30 departments in 6 different schools and colleges. Of those core and affiliate faculty, 15 teach and/or do research focused on Korea. In addition to Korean language courses, over 15 courses substantially or solely focused on Korea are now offered regularly. The Center offers a B.A. in East Asian Studies, a Certificate for undergraduates who wish to combine their primary discipline with an East Asia focus, and a Ph.D. minor for graduate students focusing on East Asia. A graduate certificate for professional and terminal master’s students is currently being developed. Each of these degree options offers the opportunity to student to concentrate on Korea in their studies.

There is also considerable activity related to Korea in the professional schools at UW-Madison. Faculty members in law and business teach comparative courses including Korea. The School of Law offers Master's in Law and Master's in Legal Institutions degrees in cooperation with Korea University. In addition, the East Asian Legal Studies Center has faculty exchanges with Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University. The Center for International Business Education and Research in the School of Business in cooperation with the Center for East Asian Studies plans to lead a faculty development study tour to Korea in 2009. The College of Engineering has a study abroad agreement with Handong University. The School of Social Work has a faculty exchange agreement with Hallym University and the School for Workers has a faculty exchange agreement with the Korean Labor Education Institute (KLEI).




The Korea Initiative


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Center for East Asian Studies, International Institute, 333 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive,
Madison, WI 53706-1397 email: eas@eastasia.wisc.edu tel:(608)262-3643 fax:(608)265-2919