Undergraduate Institutions for Studying Chinese Philosophy

In response to a few emailed queries from students about where they might go, or transfer, to study Chinese philosophy at the undergraduate level in the U.S. I wrote the following, really off the top of my head. But as I was writing it, it occurred to me that it might be good to collect a more comprehensive list and create a separate reference page on the blog for it in the near future. So, please look at the list and see what or who is missing from the list — the list is, as I’ve said, off the top of my head. This is a list specifically of “Philosophy” or “Philosophy and Religion” departments in the U.S. I know there are people in other departments teaching undergraduate Chinese philosophy courses. They should be included too, but I’ll need to know what departments they teach in at their institutions. Also, for the purposes of this list, it will make sense only to include places with relatively permanent faculty teaching Chinese philosophy who are actively doing research related to it, as far as you know.

Here is the advice and the list I emailed to my correspondents:

You should definitely start as soon as possible studying Chinese. You’ll have to learn traditional characters rather than or in addition to simplified ones if you are interested in historical or philosophical material. To figure out which type of characters you’ll be learning, you should ask the language program that you apply to. At some point (after intermediate or advanced Chinese) you should also take a Classical Chinese course — it has only traditional characters, and a different grammar altogether from modern Chinese.

For your interests and background, there are a couple of things to look for in an institution. You should try to find a place that has both a good philosophy program and Asian studies (some kind of Asia, or China, related) program. You won’t usually find Chinese philosophy studied within a philosophy department, though there are exceptions that I’ll list below. For the purposes of graduate school later on, you’ll probably want good letters from both types of professors.

The list of places in the U.S. with a professor in a philosophy department who specializes in Chinese philosophy is a small but growing list. In no particular order, starting from the Northeast and moving outward, they are:

Colby College (ME) – Prof Behuniak
University of Vermont (VT) – Prof Chan
College of the Holy Cross (MA) – Prof Sim
SUNY Buffalo (NY) – Prof Yu
Vassar College (NY) – Prof Van Norden
CUNY Baruch College (NY) – Prof Sarkissian
Wesleyan University (CT) – Prof Angle
Southern Connecticut State University (CT) – Prof Yang
University of Connecticut (CT) – Prof Kupperman
Fairfield University (CT) – Prof Im
Kutztown University (PA) – Prof Huang
Stockton College of New Jersey (NJ) – Prof Robins
Kenyon College (OH) – Prof Xiao
University of Dayton (OH) – Prof McLeod
Drury University (MO) – Prof Panza
American University (DC) – Prof Park
Duke University (NC) – Prof Wong
Wayne State University (MI) – Prof Kim
Eastern Michigan University (MI) – Prof Bruya
Grand Valley State University (MI) – Prof Ni
DePaul University (IL) – Prof Perkins
University of Tampa (FL) – Prof Geisz
University of Oklahoma (OK) – Prof Olberding
University of Utah (UT) – Prof Hutton
San Francisco State University (CA) – Prof Tiwald
Cal State Northridge (CA) – Prof Sun
Cal State Fullerton (CA) – Profs Liu and Ihara
University of Hawaii (HI) – Profs Cheng and Ames

Those are the places with people I can remember off the top of my head. It should be a good list to start with. I would check to see what kind of Asian language and/or literature programs a place has in addition, if I were you. There are also some people who work on Chinese philosophy in other types of departments, mainly Asian studies or Religion departments, but I’m less familiar with them.

If you know of other places, along with the name(s) of the professor(s) there, please respond using the comment field. Thanks!

11 replies on “Undergraduate Institutions for Studying Chinese Philosophy”

  1. Do all of these institutions offer instruction in Chinese? Okay, I know the answer to that, because Stockton mostly doesn’t (though there is some hope this will change). Is Stockton alone in this?

  2. we have instruction in Chinese at Dayton, but I’m not sure how extensive this is (I’m fairly sure it goes through at least 2nd year). There is no separate Chinese program, however, so there aren’t many courses, and there are also no courses in Classical Chinese (a must for studying Chinese philosophy), although I would be able to work with students individually in Classical Chinese, as would probably most of the people on Manyul’s list at institutions without courses in Classical.

  3. Let me add a couple more,

    Belmont University, Prof.Littlejohn
    University of North Florida, Porf. Maraldo
    Kennesaw State University, Prof. David Jones
    Penn State University, Prof. On-Cho Ng (Religious Studies, also a professor Huang in Comp Lit working on Chinese thoughts,with some programs on Chinese)

    Also, I myself teach some courses on Chinese and Asian Philosophy at Georgia College & State University

  4. One more undergraduate school to add would be Creighton University – Jinmei Yuan has her PhD from Hawaii and is very well versed in Chinese Philosophy and Literature. Language instruction currently has 4 semesters and is only modern Mandarin – but there have been rumors of extending this to three years.

  5. In our case, Drury does offer (not classical) Chinese (we have a regular faculty exchange with Tsinghua), but this only covers the first year (I suspect that independent tutoring further is possible). We’re working on expanding that further insofar as regular catalog listings go, and it looks like it might happen, but no word on exactly when.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.