Global East Asia (GEA) is a four week upper-division Maymester research course with a study abroad component for USC undergraduate students, made possible by the East Asian Studies Center and USC Dornsife. This intensive program gives students the opportunity to travel and conduct research in China or Japan. Students from all majors, schools and language backgrounds are eligible to apply and experience East Asia in a unique way.



Instructor: Miya Elise Desjardins, Adjunct Associate Professor of Art History and EALC
Location: Los Angeles, CA and Tokyo, Japan
Course Title: Japanese Society and Design Thinking (#25803)
Dates: May 15, 2024 – June 13, 2024

This course examines contemporary Japanese design beyond the material culture of the everyday, reframing it as a form of social engagement that exists across various media and disciplines. We will explore, from a transdisciplinary perspective, the ways in which the practice of design engages with social problems and contributes to social transformation. From interior furnishings to exterior landscapes, spanning real and virtual environments, design plays a significant role in the creation of national infrastructure. Specific attention will be paid to the global dimensions of Japanese design and its transnational migration, adaptation, and instances of exchange and collaboration that have emerged between Japan and our locale, Los Angeles, by surveying a selection of design practices. The 4-week course will be held for 2 weeks in Los Angeles and includes visits to museums and galleries, businesses, Japan House-LA, gardens and other cultural venues that feature iterations of Japanese design, and 2 weeks in Tokyo, conducting fieldwork.

Please note: Students will be sharing rooms for the duration of their time in Japan. 

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Instructor: Jason Webb, Professor (Teaching) of Comparative Literature and EALC
Location: Los Angeles, CA and Kyoto, Japan
Course Title: Kyoto – Heritage, Culture and Identity in Japan’s Ancient Capital (#25809)
Dates: May 15, 2024 – June 15, 2024

This course aims to introduce the city of Kyoto via the history, religion, literature, architecture, and aristocratic milieu of the Heian period (794-1185). As students’ knowledge of Kyoto’s past and familiarity with the contemporary city deepens, they will be able to address together questions that fuse history with the present moment: In what way does Heian culture inform the self-identity of present-day native Kyoto-ites? How do Kyoto natives differentiate themselves from natives of Osaka, Tokyo, or other parts of Japan? In the context of global tourism marketing, what is the difference between using Kyoto and Tokyo as the “symbol” of Japan? The course will run for four weeks. Approximately one-half of that time will be spent in the United States doing preparatory coursework and half of that time will be in Japan doing fieldwork.

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Instructor: Brett Sheehan, Professor of History and EALC
Location: Los Angeles, CA; Beijing, Shanghai, and third- and fourth-tier cities in Henan Province, China
Course Title: Global Consumer Culture and China (#25801)
Dates: N/A

The impact of globalization on China and the impact of China on globalization stand as two of the most important issues of the twenty-first century. This course will examine those questions by focusing on China’s history of interaction with global culture and culminate with fieldwork to allow students to address globalization in China today as seen through consumer culture. The course will run for approximately four weeks with about half of that time in the United States doing preparatory coursework and about half of that time will be in China doing fieldwork. Fieldwork will focus on comparing consumer culture in the cosmopolitan cities of Beijing and Shanghai with third- and fourth-tier cities in Henan Province. Students will also visit a village in order to give students an idea of the vast range of Chinese consumer culture.

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Global East Asia: China will not be running in the 2023-2024 academic year.

How To Apply

♦ USC undergraduates from any major/school
♦ Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher

♦ Complete the online application form and upload your Personal Statement.
♦ Personal statement: Explain your interest in the selected program, discuss your personal and academic experience related to East Asia and/or the country of study, include information on related coursework you have taken or are taking, and explain any financial need. Maximum 2 double-spaced pages. If you have a research topic related to the course, please include this in your personal statement.

Note: If you are applying to more than one program, please submit a personal statement specific to each application/program.

Applications for AY 2023-2024 are closed. Please go to the Study Travel Abroad website for more information.