Through a new minor, students dig into South Asia’s culture and history, including empires of India and kingdoms of Nepal, which built structures still visited today. (Composite: Letty Avila. Image source: Wikimedia Commons.)

New South Asian Studies minor broadens horizons for undergraduates

ByMargaret Crable

South Asia is the most populous region on the planet and home to a rich array of diverse cultures from Afghani to Sri Lankan. It’s also growing faster than any other developing region in the world, according to the World Bank.

This dynamic area is the focus of a new South Asian Studies minor, offered by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences religion department. Its development was spearheaded by Indra Mukhopadhay, associate professor (teaching) of writing, whose expertise includes South Asian literature.

“This minor is an excellent way for students to learn about this important region of the world; it’s a major global economy and a strategic partner in international relations and business. Also, it’s a wonderful opportunity for students to have a course of study that offers a humanities perspective on South Asia,” he says, noting that the minor is open to any USC student, not just those enrolled at USC Dornsife.

Undergraduates will get a grounding in the overall history of South Asia, its religions and its its art, literature, architecture and other cultural output through classes like ENGL 333: “Literature of Gandhi’s India.” Other courses will explore security in the region, migration and displacement throughout its nations and the complex politics at play. Enrollees will also get a chance for some hands-on learning by taking a yoga or Bollywood dance class.

Mukhopadhay says it’s a timely addition to the university’s academic offerings.

“USC has never had any program in South Asian studies,” he says. “This was the right time for it to happen. We have a core group of faculty members doing fascinating work on South Asia, and we have a big student population eager to learn more about the region and its cultures.”