Undergraduate Student Learning Initiative (USLI) Goals

The mission of the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies is to enable students to learn about the cultures and civilizations of South and Southeast Asia. Our department teaches 12 languages and is an indispensable resource for programs in many other departments and areas. For our undergraduate majors, we stress an interdisciplinary approach.  

Berkeley has an extraordinary number of experts in many areas of South and Southeast Asian Studies, and our students are encouraged to take advantage of relevant courses in such departments as History, Music, Political Science, Ethnic Studies, Art History, Linguistics, Gender and Women’s Studies and English. Qualified undergraduates are also encouraged to participate in our graduate seminars.

Goals of the South & Southeast Asian Studies Major

  1. Students should have mastered the grammar (included complex grammatical features) of at least one South and Southeast Asian language (out of Sanskrit, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Telugu for South Asia and Indonesian, Thai, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Khmer for Southeast). They should be able to read stories, newspapers, and the like in the modern language in which they specialize.
  2. They should be able to speak and get about using the language (if relevant), and to write simple prose in the modern language.
  3. For classic languages such as Sanskrit, students should have basic facility in reading a variety of different genres in the original, and for this should be comfortable using standard resource materials such as dictionaries, traditional grammars, on-line resources, etc. They are also expected to be able to engage critically with the pertinent secondary sources relevant to the texts being read.
  4. They should have a sound knowledge of one culture or area of South or Southeast Asia.
  5. They should have a broad general acquaintance with South and Southeast Asia, including a good knowledge of cultural history, literature, and/or religion.

Paths to the Goals

Foundation Courses

  • South Asian 1 A and B give students an overview of the history and textual traditions of ancient and modern civilizations, and basic analytic and writing skills.
  • Southeast Asian 10 A and B are broad civilizational courses that give students a grounding in the religion, history, culture and literature of Southeast Asia.

Language Courses

  • Introductory courses
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Upper Division Courses

  •  The 100 level courses expand skills initiated in the foundational courses.
  • They give students more detailed knowledge about cultures, texts, religions, and politics of South and Southeast Asia.
  • These courses also foster research skills.

Optional Senior Thesis

How student learning will be evaluated in relation to these goals

The department closely monitors and evaluates attainment of our program goals throughout a student's progress through the major.

  • Language skills are assessed continuously through written and oral quizzes and exams.
  • Lecture courses require research and analytical papers and/or oral presentations, in addition to exams.
  • Larger lecture courses include discussion sections for group discussions.

As a capstone experience our department offers advanced undergraduate seminars taught by ladder-rank faculty that are research and writing intensive. We also encourage eligible students to undertake an honors thesis project and offer a departmental Chair's Book Prize presented at Commencement to the student who has completed the best honors thesis.