Japanese major proposed


Owen Barbato

Professor Masashi Harada teaches courses which would be included in the proposed Japanese major.

Conrad Dahm, Staff Writer

Correction: This article was previously published in the Nov. 14 edition of the S&B, and it incorrectly stated that the Japanese major had been approved by the College. The major has been proposed and has not yet been approved.

A new Japanese major was just proposed at Grinnell College. Students and faculty have been pushing for a Japanese major for over 10 years, and the major has recently been officially proposed on Nov. 7 by Mariko Schimmel, associate professor of Japanese and chair of the Chinese and Japanese department. As a result, a second tenured track faculty position was also proposed to supplement the new proposed major. Currently, Japanese classes are offered, but students cannot receive a degree in the subject.

Schimmel wrote in an email to the S&B that she hopes that the major will increase diversity in the College’s curriculum and assist students’s ability to explore the world.

The College has offered Japanese classes but has not had a major to accompany it. Additionally, the proposed major will also bring new classes to Grinnell College, which Schimmel also wrote that she is excited about.

One of the new classes that Schimmel wrote she hopes to develop with the new major is JPN 398: Advanced Japanese Seminar, in which the students would conduct a capstone research project. The major could also require classes that already exist such as JPN 120: Japanese Popular Culture and Society, JPN 241: Japanese Horror: Past and Present and JPN 279: Modern Japanese Fiction and Film.

Schimmel wrote that the new major was created in part due to the immense popularity of Japanese classes among students, with Japanese classes being some of the most crowded at Grinnell. “The two sections of JPN 101 are usually quite packed,” Schimmel wrote.

“It was high time that we have a major,” she wrote. “The existence of the major will hopefully encourage our students to continue on to advance their proficiency in this very challenging language.”

Since the new major has just recently been proposed, there is still a lengthy process it must go through prior to being fully approved, according to Schimmel. First, a division vote will be held in December on the proposal, and then, in the spring, a second vote will be held where all faculty members will be eligible to vote on the proposal. 

When asked about what she is most excited about with this proposed major, Schimmel wrote, “I had so many great students over the years who worked with me from their first semester to the last. As I see them graduate, I would clap hard for those students, but people around me would wonder why I would be clapping so hard for a CS major, chemistry major, studio art major, etc. Now it will be shown on their diploma if they so choose.”