Biology Lab

Via Asia

The 21st century is often predicted to be the "Asian century," emphasizing Asia’s growing economic and political power. But what, exactly, is "Asia"? Our goal in this Forum is to understand Asia as complex, diverse, and dynamic.This understanding will require different types of knowledge, challenging you to bring together different kinds of learning in the spirit of the Forums.

The introductory course for this Forum will emphasize the movement of people, ideas, and objects across Asia, towards understanding not only the interconnectedness of various regions of Asia, but also the interconnectedness of Asia—historically and in the present—to the rest of the world.  To carry out our introductory exploration, we will examine maps, pour over manuscripts, study historical artifacts, and engage with travelogues from varied perspectives on Asia, among other activities.  We will use both historical materials and contemporary media in our shared inquiry, and you will emerge from this course with a sense of Asia’s crucial presence in all of our lives, even as this thing that we call “Asia” will continue to escape any neat or stable definition.

Following the introducatory course, you will have opportunities to explore topics related to Asia in much greater depth through your other courses. You will gain the tools to analyze the geophysical environment of Asia (geology, water, plants), its built environment (architecture, cities), biological forces (disease, fertility), political systems of the past and present (politics, history), and culture (literature, media, arts, religion). In this way, the Via Asia Forum is as much about Asia as it is about learning to think critically, collaboratively, imaginatively, and ethically, via Asia.


Natasha Heller, Associate Professor of Religious Studies

As a scholar of Buddhism, thinking about the movement of people, objects, and ideas across Asia has been an important part of my research and teaching.  When Buddhism first arrived in China, it did so through texts and images brought by monks and merchants from Central and South Asia; as Buddhism spread throughout East Asia, exchanges between Buddhists from the places we now call China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and Tibet spread religious ideas and practices.  These networks continue today, but now have a global scope that connects Asian diasporas throughout the world. 

I am excited to partner with Samhita Sunya in teaching this forum, because we work on very different time periods, places, and media—this means I will be learning alongside students. I hope students will come away from this course with an appreciation of Asia, past and present, and a better understanding of the complex networks that connect people across the globe.   

Samhita Sunya, Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures

I am a film historian with a background in literary studies. My research as well as the courses that I teach in MESALC probe circulation histories of film, visual culture, and music across the Middle East and South Asia. In both my research and teaching, I aim to foreground the dazzling heterogeneity and the prolific, multidirectional circuits of cinematic forms, since their very inception as traveling fairground attractions at the turn of the twentieth century. Cinema emerges as a rich site for interrogating not only contemporary technologies, urban networks, labor, migration, and art practices, but also comparative histories of audio-visual culture, leisure, patronage, technology, and commerce.

I am delighted to co-lead a forum with Natasha Heller precisely to join her – and our students – in an exploration of comparative historical and trans-regional networks of people, objects, and ideas in motion, via West, Central, South, East, and Southeast Asia. By examining a very long history of cosmopolitanisms (interconnections, exchanges, and encounters) via Asia, I look forward to reflecting with our students on what it means to be a global citizen on the cusp of what many have projected to be the "Asian Century."

Navigating the Forum

In the first semester (Fall 2018) you will enroll in FORU 1500: Introduction to Via Asia. Team-taught by Natasha Heller and Samhita Sunya, the introductory course is project driven and will look at cities (sites of exchange) within various networks of interconnection (pathways of exchange). We hope that you will gain a sense of how connections between cities in the past has shaped what those cities are today, as well as the different kings of routes that have inscribed Asian landscapes.  

Outside of the introductory course and capstone, you will take courses from clusters that will both deepen their knowledge of Asian cultures as well as the ways in which the sciences have been used to explore environment, trade, economics, and medical issues across Asia. Those clusters include:

  1. Language Via Asia
  2. Arts & Cultures Via Asia
  3. Science Via Asia
  4. Systems Via Asia

Students who participate in Via Asia are required to study abroad in Asia during the Summer 2019, Fall 2019, or January 2020 semesters. This requirement may be waived in extenuating circumstances, with an option of working with the International Rescue Committee or other relevant local organization.

Finally, in your fourth semester (Spring, 2020), we will gather again to identify a challenge that Asian cities face in the future, and to imagine a possible solution informed by long histories of connectivity across Asia.


Competency Requirements

  • First Writing Requirement (3 credits)
  • Second Writing Requirement (3 credits)
  • World Languages (0-14 credits)

Core required Courses

  • FORU 1500: Introduction to Via Asia (Fall ’18)
  • FORU 2500: Capstone Seminar (Spring ’20)
  • *Study or Exchange Abroad in Asia (Summer ’19, Fall ’19, or January ’20)

Language Via Asia (4 credits)

  • Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Sanskrit, Arabic, Hebrew

Category 1. Arts & Cultures Via Asia (6 Credits, at least 2 classes from 2 different departments)

  • ARTH 2561 / MESA 2559** Arts of the Islamic World (3.00)
  • ARTH 2559 / MESA 2559** The Art and Architecture of the Ottoman Empire (3.00)
  • ARTH 2559** Art of Tibet and the Himalayas (3.00)
  • ARTH 2861 East Asian Art (3.00)
  • ARTH 2862 Arts of the Buddhist World: India to Japan (3.00)
  • ARTH 2871 The Arts of India (3.00)
  • ARTH 2961 Arts of the Islamic World (3.00)
  • ARTR 3350 Introduction to Arab Women’s Literature (3.00)
  • ARTR 3359**: Masterpieces of Classical Islamic World
  • ARTH 3861 Chinese Art (3.00)
  • ARTR 3245 Arabic Literary Delights (3.00)
  • CHTR 3010 Survey of Traditional Chinese Literature (3.00)
  • CHTR 3020 Survey of Modern Chinese Literature (3.00)
  • CHTR 3840 Writing Women in Modern China (3.00)
  • CHTR 3850 Chinese Documentary Writing and Film. (3.00)
  • EAST 1010 East Asian Canons and Cultures (3.00)
  • JPTR 3010 Survey of Traditional Japanese Literature (3.00)
  • JPTR 3020 Survey of Modern Japanese Literature (3.00)
  • JPTR 3210 The Tale of Genji (3.00)
  • MESA 1000 From Genghis Khan to Stalin: Invasions and Empires of Central Asia (3.00)
  • MESA 1559** Gateway to the Middle East and South Asia (3.00)
  • MESA 2110 Intro Middle East South Asia Film History (3.00)
  • MESA 2300 Crossing Borders: Middle East and South Asia (3.00) 
  • MESA 3110 Sustainable Environments Middle East and South Asia (3.00)
  • MESA 3111 Film Festivals and Global Media Cultures (3.00)
  • MESA 3559** Thousand and One Nights at the Cinema (3.00)
  • RELG 1040 Intro to Eastern Religions (3.00)
  • RELB 2054 Tibetan Buddhism (3.00)
  • RELB 2100 Buddhism (3.00)
  • RELB 2715 Introduction to Chinese Religions (3.00)
  • RELB 3422 Anthropology of Global Buddhism (3.00)
  • RELH 2090 Hinduism (3.00)
  • RELH 3105 Hinduism and Ecology (3.00)
  • RELH 3559** The History of Yoga
  • RELI 2070 Classical Islam
  • RELI 2080 Global Islam (3.00)
  • SAST 1600 India in Global Perspective (3.00)
  • SAST 2050 Classics of Indian Literature (3.00)
  • SATR 3000 Women Writing in India & Pakistan: 1947-Present (3.00)
  • SATR 3300 Literature and Society in South Asia: Braking the Cast(e) (3.00)

Category 2. Science and Math Via Asia (9 Credits)
3 credits/1 course from Math or Statistics and 6 credits/2 courses from PHYS, BIOL, EVSC, ASTR, CHEM or BIOL.

The classes below are strongly recommended.

  • BIOL 1040 The DNA Revolution in Science and Society (3.00)
  • BIOL 1050 Genetics for an Informed Citizen (3.00)
  • BIOL 1060 Principles of Nutrition (3.00)
  • BIOL 1080 Nerve Cells, Networks and Animal Behavior (3.00)
  • BIOL 1210 Human Biology and Disease (3.00)
  • BIOL 3020 Evolution & Ecology (3.00)
  • BIOL 3450 Biodiversity and Conservation (3.00)
  • BIOL 4130 Population Biology and Conservation Biology (3.00)
  • BIOL 4135 Biology of Aging (3.00)
  • EVSC 1020 Practical Concepts in Environmental Sciences (3.00)
  • EVSC 1080 Resources and the Environment (3.00)
  • EVSC 1450 An Inconvenient Truce: Climate, You, and CO2 (3.00)
  • EVSC 1600 Water on Earth (3.00)
  • EVSC 2010 Materials that Shape Civilizations (3.00)
  • EVSC 2200 Plants People Culture (3.00)
  • EVSC 2220 Conservation Ecology: Biodiversity and Beyond (3.00)
  • EVSC 3020 GIS Methods (3.00)
  • MATH 1150 The Shape of Space (3.00)
  • MATH 1140 Financial Mathematics (3.00)
  • MATH 3120 Introduction to Mathematical Statistics (3.00)
  • PHYS 1110 Energy on this World and Elsewhere (3.00)
  • PHYS 1210 The Science of Sound and Music (3.00)
  • STAT 1601 Introduction to Data Science with R (3 credits)
  • STAT 1602 Introduction to Data Science with Phython (3 credits)
  • STAT 2120 Introduction to Statistical Analysis (4.00)

Category 3. Systems Via Asia (6 Credits, at least 2 classes from 2 different departments)

  • ANTH 1050 Anthropology of Globalization (3.00)
  • ANTH 1401 Your Heritage Language (3.00)
  • ANTH 2190 Desire and World Economics (3.00)
  • ANTH 2280 Medical Anthropology  (3.00)  
  • ANTH 2285 Anthropology of Development and Humanitarianism
  • ANTH 2291 Global Culture and Public Health (3.00)
  • ANTH 2375 Disaster (3.00)
  • ANTH 2430 Languages of the World (3.00)
  • ANTH 3129  Marriage, Mortality, Fertility (3.00)  
  • ANTH 3340 Ecology and Society (3.00)  
  • ANTH 3630 Chinese Family and Religion (3.00)
  • ECON 2010 Principles of Economics: Microeconomics (3.00)
  • ECON 2020 Principles of Economics: Macroeconomics (3.00)
  • ECON 3070 Economics and Gender (3.00)
  • ECON 3720 Introduction to Econometrics (4.00)
  • GSGS 3559 Conceptions of the Global
  • HIEA 1501* Introductory Seminar in East Asian History (3.00)
  • HIEA 2011 History of Chinese Civilization (3.00)
  • HIEA 2072 Modern Japanese Culture and Politics (3.00)
  • HIEA 2031 Modern China (3.00)
  • HIEA 3112 Late Imperial China (3.00)
  • HIEA 3141 Political and Social Thought in Modern China (3.00)
  • HIEA 3162 Historical China and the World (3.00)
  • HIEA 3171 Meiji Japan (3.00)
  • HIEA 3172 The Japanese Empire (3.00)
  • HIME 1501* Introductory Seminar in Middle East History (3.00)
  • HIME 2001 History of the Middle East and North Africa, C 500-1500 (3.00)
  • HISA 1501* Introductory Seminar in South Asia (3.00)
  • HISA 2001 History and Civilization of Classical India (3.00)
  • HIST 1510: The History of Economic Life
  • HIST 2002 The Modern World: Global History since 1760 (3.00)
  • HIST 2559** Climate History
  • HIST 2559** Law and Empire in World History
  • HIST 3281 Genocide
  • MDST 3110 Hollywood Goes to Asia (3.00)
  • MDST 4210 Global Environmental Media (3.00)
  • PLCP 1010 Introduction to Comparative Politics (3.00)
  • PLCP 2010 The Politics of Advanced Industrialized Countries (3.00)
  • PLCP 3012 The Politics of Developing Areas (3.00)
  • PLCP 3610 Chinese Politics (3.00)
  • PLCP 3630 Politics in India and Pakistan (3.00)
  • PLIR 1010 International Relations (3.00)
  • SOC 2052 Sociology of the Family (3.00)
  • SOC 2056 The Sociology of Culture (3.00)
  • SOC 2442 Systems of Inequality (3.00)
  • SOC 2595 Immigration & Society (3.00)
  • SOC 2630 Environment and Society (3.00)
  • SOC 2900 Economy & Society (3.00)
  • SOC 3130 Introduction to Social Statistics (3.00)
  • SOC 3440 Chinese Society (3.00)

*This is a Topics Course. Any topic under this course number will count towards filling the requirement.

**This is a specific topic. To receive credit towards the Forum requriement, you must be enrolled in this specific topic and not in another topic under the same number. Many of these courses may only be taught one-time during your time at UVA.