College of Letters & Sciences


The Japanese Studies Program is an interdisciplinary program that provides students an opportunity to develop proficiency in Japanese language and a broad understanding of Japan – the world’s third largest economy and an important partner of the United States. We offer six levels of Japanese language courses, as well as courses on Japanese history, politics, culture, literature, religion, society, geography, and gender and family relations. Students also have the opportunity to travel to Japan for an internship, travel study, or study abroad program.

Students will be prepared for the global economy by acquiring proficiency in the Japanese language – one of the most used languages on the Internet – and developing cultural fluency and global, comparative perspectives.

The major also requires the following:

  • Completion of a senior thesis
  • A portfolio with 3 projects or papers from courses in the major
  • An oral exit interview in Japanese

You can view the list of Japanese Studies courses here.

Contact Information

Jonathan Burkham
Japanese Studies Program Coordinator
Associate Professor
Department:Geopraphy/Geology/EnvSci
Office Location: Upham Hall 114
Office Phone: (262) 472-7173

Patricia Filipiak
Academic Dept Associate
Department:Physics/Geography/Geology/EnvSci
Office Location: UH 151
Office Phone: (262) 472-1067

Margo Kleinfeld
GGES Associate Professor and Department Chairperson 
Department: Geography/Geology/ Env SCI 
Office location: UH 120A 
Office Phone: (262) 472-1087

Japan Foundation

Japanese Studies Major

The Japanese Studies Major includes three years of Japanese language courses, along with several elective courses on language, history, culture, and politics in Japan and East Asia.  Study abroad coursework and internships, in consultation with the program coordinator, may count towards the major.

Japanese Studies majors are required to also select a minor.  A list of all programs including potential minors can be found here.  To graduate, Japanese Studies majors must achieve a 2.25 GPA in program courses, submit a portfolio of exemplary work, complete a senior thesis, and pass a Japanese language proficiency test.

Japanese Studies Minor

The Japanese Studies Minor includes two years of Japanese language courses, along with several elective courses on language, history, culture, and politics in Japan.  Like with the major, study abroad coursework and internships, in consultation with the program coordinator, may count towards the minor.

Contact Information

Jonathan Burkham
Japanese Studies Program Coordinator
Associate Professor
Department:Geopraphy/Geology/EnvSci
Office Location: Upham Hall 114
Office Phone: (262) 472-7173

Patricia Filipiak
Academic Dept Associate
Department:Physics/Geography/Geology/EnvSci
Office Location: UH 151
Office Phone: (262) 472-1067

Margo Kleinfeld
GGES Associate Professor and Department Chairperson 
Department: Geography/Geology/ Env SCI 
Office location: UH 120A 
Office Phone: (262) 472-1087

Japan Foundation

The Japanese Studies Program is interdisciplinary drawing on the expertise of faculty across several departments.  Dr. Jonathan Burkham, a human geographer, with experience in international development is the program coordinator and is happy to answer any questions you have about the program.

All of the following faculty teach courses in the program:

Margo Kleinfeld

Xia Lollar

Nathan McGovern

Marjorie Rhine

Akiko Yoshida

Wenquan (Charles) Zhang

Contact Information

Jonathan Burkham
Japanese Studies Program Coordinator
Associate Professor
Department:Geopraphy/Geology/EnvSci
Office Location: Upham Hall 114
Office Phone: (262) 472-7173

Patricia Filipiak
Academic Dept Associate
Department:Physics/Geography/Geology/EnvSci
Office Location: UH 151
Office Phone: (262) 472-1067

Margo Kleinfeld
GGES Associate Professor and Department Chairperson 
Department: Geography/Geology/ Env SCI 
Office location: UH 120A 
Office Phone: (262) 472-1087

Japan Foundation

Emma Pisarek, Spring 2021 Graduate Emma Pisarek

The Japanese Studies program has given me so many amazing opportunities. Through the program, I was able to study abroad in Tokyo for one year, which ended up being the highlight of my college career. From that experience, I then got to work at UWW's Office of Global Experiences helping others study abroad as well. All of this international experience has led me to employment with Japan's JET Program, where I will be teaching English to students in Japan. The Japanese Studies program has opened up a world of opportunities for me, and I don't regret it one bit

  

 

Michelle Davis, Summer 2019 Graduate

Since graduating from the UW-W Japanese program, I have been teaching English in Daegu, South Korea. My degree has been immensely useful to me in numerous ways, like equipping me to understand and study cultures as well as be more appreciative of cultural differences.

Firstly, studying Japan has allowed me to better understand and study other societies—even outside of Japan or East Asia. If we are to discuss society in terms of collectivism and individualism, Japan is the polar opposite of the U.S. Thus, having a firm grasp of both Japanese culture and American culture has given me a spectrum of extremes that I can use to identify, analyze, and respond to cultural patterns in other places that I visit. For example, in Korea, the culture is heavily Confucian and leans closer to being more collectivistic; hence, cultural trends mirror that of other collectivistic societies like Japan. Meanwhile, a European country like Italy would have more in common with the U.S. In both cases, I have a general idea of what to expect and can start to construct a deeper understanding of those countries from there. Not only that, but the Japanese program at UW-W also gave me a firm foundation in what defines culture in all respects (e.g. history, government, literature, art, language, philosophy, anthropology, geography), and using that framework, I feel confident researching the culture of wherever I go—something that is invaluable as a person who enjoys traveling both for work and for tourism.

Another thing that I learned in the Japanese program that directly influences my work is an increase in cultural awareness. I am much more attuned now to faux pas and the customs of others. Holidays are a great example of this: East Asian countries share many holidays (e.g., the Mid-Autumn Festival, Buddha’s Birthday, Christmas), but their practices vary among all of those nations. In Japan, for instance, it is common to eat cake to celebrate Christmas; here in Korea, Christmas is instead known as a couple’s holiday. Of course, these are even more different from American and European conceptions of Christmas, but nonetheless, these East Asian practices are still valid. This concept, one that was drilled into me in the UW-W Japanese program, is so important for my life now as an expat: to accept cultural differences without writing them off as “weird” or “wrong”. I encounter this every day here in Korea. Respect for elders is built into the language—much like it is in Japanese, and obligatory gift giving and hierarchy play a large role in maintaining healthy relationships within the workplace, much more than they do in the U.S. (i.e., what would be my “normal”). I often have to interact with my employers along these lines, such as stopping by their offices before and after holiday vacations and making sure to use the proper elevation of speech when addressing them. Bowing, too, is especially important and was something I grew comfortable doing during my time at Whitewater.

In particular, the Japanese program at UW-W is perfect for someone wanting to pursue a life in Japan or abroad in general. The wide array of content taught and excellent teachers provided me a well-rounded understanding of Japanese culture and culture itself, which is becoming increasingly important as the world grows more integrated via trade, entertainment, travel, and social networking. I can honestly say that I enjoyed all of my classes in the program and felt I left with a broader worldview than when I went in. With that said, I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in international travel or working in education or business.

Contact Information

Jonathan Burkham
Japanese Studies Program Coordinator
Associate Professor
Department:Geopraphy/Geology/EnvSci
Office Location: Upham Hall 114
Office Phone: (262) 472-7173

Patricia Filipiak
Academic Dept Associate
Department:Physics/Geography/Geology/EnvSci
Office Location: UH 151
Office Phone: (262) 472-1067

Margo Kleinfeld
GGES Associate Professor and Department Chairperson 
Department: Geography/Geology/ Env SCI 
Office location: UH 120A 
Office Phone: (262) 472-1087

Japan Foundation

Though an internship or study abroad experience in Japan is not required for Japanese Studies students, it is highly encouraged.  The UWW Office of Global Experiences can help you find the program for you and can also point you towards scholarship opportunities to help fund your international experience.  One such opportunity is the Bridging Projects Scholarship, which is generously supported by the United States-Japan Bridging Foundation.

Two of the most popular experiences among Japanese Studies majors are the exchange programs to Sophia University in Tokyo and Kansai Gaidai in Hirakata.  These programs offer a range of courses with transferable credits towards your UWW Japanese Studies degree.

Several of our students have gone on to teach english in Japan through programs such as the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET).  Click on the Alumni tab above to see our latest JET participant.

Finally, if you are not able to study or intern abroad, or you just want to satisfy your immediate cultural curiosity about Japan, the Japan Foundation puts on many great events, some of them virtual, which you are encouraged to attend.

Contact Information

Jonathan Burkham
Japanese Studies Program Coordinator
Associate Professor
Department:Geopraphy/Geology/EnvSci
Office Location: Upham Hall 114
Office Phone: (262) 472-7173

Patricia Filipiak
Academic Dept Associate
Department:Physics/Geography/Geology/EnvSci
Office Location: UH 151
Office Phone: (262) 472-1067

Margo Kleinfeld
GGES Associate Professor and Department Chairperson 
Department: Geography/Geology/ Env SCI 
Office location: UH 120A 
Office Phone: (262) 472-1087

Japan Foundation

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