IDAS Courses

The IDAS program consists of four main course groups: Research Tool and Foundation Courses, Track Core, Track Electives, and All Track Electives.

A. Research Tools and Foundation Courses

We offer a range of method classes as we believe that good methods are key to good research.

Research Methods
This course examines research methods in social science which application to Asia-Pacific studies, and is specifically designed for incoming Ph.D. students who will eventually be conducting their dissertation research. This course provides an in-depth overview of the research process, a range of qualitative and quantitative social science research methods, applications and examples of these methods related to Asia-Pacific Studies and journals, the process of formulating a dissertation research proposal and working with dissertation committees. Students formulate an in-depth research proposal during this course which provides essential hand-on skill-building. This is the first of two research methods courses for IDAS Students; the second course varies according to students’ track. 

Intermediate Statistical Methods 
This course is a continuation of “Introduction to Statistical Analysis.” It introduces students to more advanced tools of statistics and shows how they are used in the analysis of social science data. The course will cover hypothesis testing and the basics of regression analysis. It will also introduce students to the idea of multivariate analysis. 

Upon successful completion of this course you will be able to complete the following tasks: 

  1. Explain basic concepts of social statistics (e.g. population vs. sample sampling distribution). 
  2. Summarize numeric data by computing descriptive statistics (e.g. mean variance) and by creating tables and graphs. For each procedure you will learn a hand calculation method (using calculators) and a computer method (using software such as SPSS). 
  3. Compute various inferential statistics (e.g. t-score) using both hand calculation and computer methods. 
  4. Test hypotheses applying probability theory. 
  5. Explain the differences among various statistical techniques and identify an appropriate technique for a given set of variables and research questions.

Asia-Pacific Regional Development
This foundation course provides an overview of Asian Pacific regional development, changing patterns of power relations, foreign and economic policies of regional actors and regional institution-building. To be more specifically, it examines leading theories and debates about regional development and cooperation, explore foreign policies and relations of the Asia-Pacific countries, highlight current political and economic trends of the region, and build up research capabilities for regional studies. We also look at different cultures of the region and the role of ethnic minorities, as well as processes of public governance that affect resolution of these matters. Though this course, students get a broad overview of the field and learn how to integrate and apply different analytical perspectives into a coherent analysis, as applied to a topic of their interest.

To learn more about our Asia-Pacific related courses, you can download the syllabus here.

B. Track Core Courses

Track 2: Globalization and Transnationalism

This seminar focuses on the role of globalization and, specifically, of transnationalism, defined as the variety of cultural inter-connections and trans-border movements and networks which have intensified under conditions of late capitalism, in the global society. We shall proceed from the discussion of media and urban globalization, through the topic of diaspora, to the final study of transnationalism. The purpose of this class, in short, is to sensitize you to the intricate and intertwining relationships between the overall process of the on-going globalization and its manifestation in both the action and the imagination of people’s cross-border migration, and thus to help you with the relevant literature in which you may pinpoint your interest and develop it into your MA or Ph. D. thesis.

Theories of Culture and Society 
The objectives of this course is to introduce students to a wide range of theories about society and culture, drawn mainly from the fields of Sociology and Anthropology, but also from Media Studies, Social Psychology and other relevant disciplines. This is a foundation course for the Society and Culture track in IDAS, and also an English-language theory course suitable for research students in Ethnology. Its aim is to introduce students to a wide range of theories about society and culture, drawn mainly from the fields of Sociology and Anthropology, but also from Media Studies, Social Psychology and other relevant disciplines. While some of the readings will be works based on a wide comparative perspective, an effort has been made also to include readings directly relevant for the analysis of societies and cultures in the Asia-Pacific region. Class sessions will be conducted as seminars, with student critiques of selections from the core readings as the central activity. Students will also be expected to supplement their readings with a selection taken from the attached list of further readings

C. Track Elective Courses

Track 1: Theories and Methods of Comparative Politics

This is a graduate core course in Comparative Politics. Weekly topics include: Introduction, CP Methods, Political Culture, Political Modernization, Organizational State, New Institutionalism, Marxism, Developmental State, Mid-term Report, Democratization, Gender Politics, The Third Way, Global Financial Crisis, Religious Politics, Nationalism, Ecological Politics, China Rising, Final Report.

Development and Policy
This course will adopt a comparative perspective to discuss the state and society in a globalization context. Through the introduction of theories and empirical cases, this class will analyze institutions, strategies, and governing modes to build up knowledge base for doctoral students to conduct germane research.

Contemporary India: Politics, Society and Economics of a Rising Power
This course will adopt a comparative perspective to discuss the state and society in a globalization context. Through the introduction of theories and empirical cases, this class will analyze institutions, strategies, and governing modes to build up knowledge base for doctoral students to conduct germane research.

Track 2: Social Security Policy

This course aims to:

  1. Introduce important concepts, principles, issues and debates of social security policies. 
  2.  Provide an in-depth understanding of social contingencies and social risks and corresponding policies. 
  3. Enable students to comprehend social security policies from a comparative perspective.

Track 3: China and Regional Economic Integration

The purpose of this course is to introduce and investigate the implication of the rising of China in East Asia economic regionalism. The format of the course will be that of a seminar requiring substantive discussions by members of the class. Success of the class will depend on informed participation by each person, and students should keep up with the reading schedule throughout the semester.

Course Requirements

  1. The course will be conducted as a seminar. Class participation is essential to the seminar format. Students are expected to attend classes or arrange absences in advance.
  2. 10 weekly short article reviews. A 2-3 page critical review of assigned articles due by 13:00 Sunday. Review should include two parts:
    • Discussion articles’ most important points.
    • Significance of the articles’ for current economic integration in Asia-Pacific. Reviews must be typed, double-spaced, in line with any common academic style sheet. Late reviews will be either not be graded or downgraded substantially. 
  3. One book review. One 30-minutes book presentation will be scheduled between week 10 and week 11. (Books for the review are flexible. Please discuss your choice of books with Dr. Wu in advance.) Review should include two parts also:
    • Summary of the book
    • Significance of the book for China issue and current economic integration. Power points should be given a week before the presentation.
  4. Final case report. One 8- page case presentation are expected during the mid-semester and before the end of semester. Report must be typed, double-spaced, in line with any common academic style sheet.

D. All Track Elective Courses

Cultural History of Asia Pacific
This course traces the Asia-Pacific region in terms of society and historical cultural development. Once students have an orientation of the region’s cultures and societies, contemporary theories will be are reviewed concerning the increasing impact of transnational flows of ideas and practices across borders. The course widens the established geographical limitation the region’s studies by considering holistic studies that incorporates thematic work on issues of cross-regional impact, including globalization, tourism to environmental degradation, and alternative medical practices to national health care systems. Case studies from continental and island systems are introduced with specific topics explored from linguistic anthropology, identity studies, economics, gender, power and authority, and belief systems. The latest publications in Asia-Pacific studies are offered as readings for class discussion. Fieldtrips are arranged to museums, cultural centers, and events to better acquaint students with island cultures. Students work on projects for sharing with the class towards the conclusion of the semester.

Democracy and Democratisation in East and South Asia
We are particularly interested in how the idea of democracy has evolved, what it means and what institutional arrangements it entails in different parts of the region concerned. We are also interested in how democracy has interacted with the forces of development, modernisation and globalisation, of nationalism and ethnic, religious and other political-cultural traditions. We shall examine how and why, despite conflicts and uncertainties, democracy has become increasingly influential in political processes, policy formulations and ideological commitments. By focusing on the current political and socio-economic, and in some cases regime, transformations, we will learn how the concept of democracy is continuously contested in Asia, ideologically as much as institutionally.

At the end of the course, students are expected to be familiar with contemporary political changes in South and East Asia, and competent in discussing at least two country cases with detailed historical and empirical knowledge. Students should also achieve a sophisticated awareness of the difficulties with theorisation at the time when the idea of democracy has achieved global dominance with ever fewer competitors for legitimacy and legitimation. The course is concerned with recent political developments in East and South Asia. In addition to the issues that have long been central to research in democratisation in the region concerned and studied extensively, we draw attention to some important/new issues that have been neglected in the existing literature. These issues include: the contesting conceptions of democracy (e.g. the ‘liberal vs. illiberal democracy’ debate); the relations between gender, development and democracy; and the impact of globalisation on democracy.

The Religions of Taiwan
This course is about exploring the belief systems of Taiwan as an overview with specific case studies from perspectives drawn from the anthropology and sociology of religion. Our journey begins with a theoretical foundation in the study of belief systems. Once we savor what theology and cross-cultural studies offer for the understanding of religions and beliefs, the course will examine the earliest belief systems in Taiwan for prehistory to the ethnographic present. The course is divided into sections (each section of two or three weeks) based on theoretical perspectives and historical chronologies.

Comparative Politics in Southeast Asia
For political scientists, Southeast Asia is one of the most interesting and important arenas for comparative studies, particularly in terms of comparative democratization. The region includes Asia’s oldest democracy, the Philippines, the recently consolidated democracy of Indonesia, the once-and-future democracy in Thailand, and a variety of forms of semi-democratic/ soft-authoritarian rule, including Malaysia and Singapore. Aside from the puzzle of this pattern of diversity, the transitions from authoritarian rule in the region have attracted much attention, beginning with the ‘People Power’ revolt against long-time strongman Marcos in the Philippines in 1986, and the student protests that led to the resignation of Suharto in Indonesia in 1998, to the more recent ‘Saffron Revolution’ against military dictatorship in Burma in 2007. Beyond these dramatic transitions, the longer-term and complicated processes of political change ongoing in Southeast Asia in recent years have involved important examples of forces and dynamics found elsewhere in the world: civil society and social movements, political Islam, ethno-communal violence, armed separatism and terrorism. Even those countries still under authoritarian rule have experienced socio-economic transformation in recent years, with subtle political changes also under way despite apparent regime stability. The course will seek to explain the patterns and dynamics of contemporary politics in this rapidly changing region, and to provide guidelines for evaluating their future developments.

While the course will cover the entire Southeast Asia, it will devote most attention to the region’s four countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Burma. The four states together encompass almost 300 million people, over twenty major ethnic/racial communities, three major religious cultures (Islam, Buddhism, Chistianity), a major regional economic group (ASEAN), and the largest Muslim nation in the world (Indonesia). 

The course will begin by introducing various theoretical approaches used by political scientists in comparative democratic studies. With those ‘tools’ in mind, the latter units of course will be to understand processes of political change and continuity in Southeast Asian countries, particularly growing pressures for ‘more democracy’ in most of them. The course will also cover some major political issues including political Islam, ethno-communal conflict, civil society and social movements, social media, and gender.

Comparative Education: Taiwan Education and National Development
Taiwan education has been highly connected with national development since 1949 when KMT government withdrew from China to Taiwan. Education in Taiwan has interwoven its path with trends of globalization and localization, development of information communications technology, and a set of political, sociological, economic, and managerial transformation. These changes altogether produce multifaceted influences on education and Taiwan’s national development. 

This is the reason why the instructor tends to correspond to displaying the case of Taiwan education over the last half century as an ideal testimony to observe how a long-lasting effect of educational policies can take place in response to enhance national development. 

Participants of this class will be able to discuss a wide-variety of education issues from comparative, international and even personal perspective of educational experiences. Classes will be conducted in a two-way and interactive format between instructor and students which intends to invite more shared ideas and inspiration about the topics. It is hoped this class will help students acquire educational theories and practices in public policy participation and eventually relate their own study aboard experience in their future career.​