Contemporary Asian Studies

As a student in the Dr. David Chu Program in Contemporary Asian Studies (CAS), you’ll learn from world-leading scholars of East, Southeast, and South Asia about the links between Asia’s diverse histories and cultures and the region’s evolving role in global affairs.

Our emphasis on experiential learning allows you to engage with Asia through research, travel, and collaboration. You’ll develop the foundational knowledge, skills, and connections to launch your career and build a lasting community.

students at CASSU event
CASSU executive team
Participants in the Global Careers through Asia Conference
Students during ITAC field research

About the program

Transform your understanding of the world and your place within it
  • The CAS program trains you to comprehend Asia’s roles in new global dynamics
  • You’ll gain a deeper understanding of the region and localities within it, while exploring the complex webs that connect local sites to contemporary global issues
  • Choose from a variety of courses that examine colonialism, modernity, youth cultures, cities, nationalism and revolution, research methodologies and more, through a pan-Asian, multidisciplinary lens
  • Design and carry out your own research in Asia with opportunities like the Richard Charles Lee Insights through Asia Challenge 
  • Our grads have gone on to careers in every field imaginable – the pan-Asian expertise and critical perspective you gain through CAS have universal value
Program requirements

The Contemporary Asian Studies program (CAS) offers a thematically driven approach to understanding the complexity of issues facing today’s Asia. It examines the linkages between Asia’s history and culture, its emergence on the global stage, and its future in the global arena. CAS courses are distinctly pan-Asian in geographic scope, providing empirical and critical coverage of South, Southeast, and East Asia through multiple disciplinary approaches, including anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, religion, and sociology.

By exposing students to current issues and debates in Asia, the CAS program is designed to prepare students for careers in or about Asia. In addition, the Asian Institute is committed to facilitating overseas experiential learning opportunities, including field schools, international course modules, professional internships, and study abroad opportunities. Upper-level CAS courses are designed to be research-intensive. There is no language requirement for the CAS major or minor. However, students are strongly encouraged to study an Asian language. 1.0 credit in an approved Asian language can be credited towards the major or minor degree.

The Contemporary Asian Studies offers Minor (4.0 Full Course Equivalents [FCEs]), Major (7.0 FCEs) programs. Please visit the Academic Calendar for full program requirements, and email Rebecca Bi, Program Administrator and Communications Officer, at for details regarding course syllabi. 

How to apply

Contemporary Asian Studies Programs are open enrolment programs. A student who has completed 4.0 credits may enrol in the major or minor program.

Undergraduate courses

Course Nomenclature:

  • H indicates a half credit course
  • F indicates a half year course in the first term (Sept – Dec)
  • S indicates a half year course in the second term (Jan – Apr)
  • Y indicates a full year course (Sept – Apr)
  • M, T, W, R, F = days of the week

2023-24 Course Offerings

Fall term courses

Please visit the Timetable Builder for course descriptions.

  • CAS200H-F: Introduction to Contemporary Asian Studies (Dylan Clark)
  • CAS310H-F: Comparative Colonialisms in Asia (Takashi Fujitani)
  • CAS350H-F: Asian Youth Cultures (Dylan Clark)
  • CAS400H-F: Interdisciplinary Research in Methods in Contemporary Asian Studies (Dylan Clark)

Winter term courses

Please visit the Timetable Builder for course descriptions.

  • CAS201H-S: Global Asian Studies: Insights and Concepts (Dylan Clark)
  • CAS202H-S: Global Asian Studies: Sites and Practices (Dylan Clark)
  • CAS320H-S: Comparative Modernities in Asia (Aparna Sundar)
  • CAS360H-S: Asian Genders (Dylan Clark)
  • CAS370H-S: Asian Cities (Bharat Punjabi)
  • CAS390H-S: Special Topics: Asian Digital Network Practicum (Dylan Clark)
  • CAS414H-S: The Public Event in Asia (Christoph Emmrich)
  • CAS490H-S: Special Topics in Contemporary Asian Studies
Awards and opportunities
Students celebrate at a conference.
Students clapping during ITAC presentations.

Meet your professors

Francis Cody
  • Core Faculty
  • CAS201H1: Global Asian Studies: Insights and Concepts
Dylan Clark headshot
  • Sessional Lecturer
  • CAS200H1: Introduction to Contemporary Asian Studies
  • CAS202H1: Global Asian Studies: Sites and Practices
  • CAS350H1: Asian Youth Cultures
  • CAS360H1: Asian Genders
Professional headshot of Christoph Emmrich
  • Appointed Faculty
  • CAS414H1: The Public Event in Asia
Bharat Punjabi headshot
  • Sessional Lecturer
  • CAS370H1: Asian Cities
  • SAS318H1: Colonialism and Tradition
Lynette Ong
  • Core Faculty
  • CAS490H: Politics of China and Democracy in Asia
  • JPA331H: Rise of China as a Global Power
  • JPA453H: Authoritarianism in Comparative Perspective
A light blue Person icon on a dark blue background
  • Sessional Lecturer
  • CAS320H1: Comparative Modernities in Asia
Yiching Wu professional headshot
  • Core Faculty
  • CAS430H1: Nationalism and Revolution in Asia
Image of Hui Wen Zheng
Meet Hui Wen Zheng, who travelled to Shenzhen and Hong Kong to conduct original research

Student groups

2023 CASSU exec team.

Contemporary Asian Studies Student Union

The Contemporary Asian Studies Student Union (CASSU) is the undergraduate course union for the Contemporary Asian Studies program at the University of Toronto. Follow CASSU on Instagram to learn about their upcoming events and opportunities, and contact them at

2023 Synergy team.

Synergy: The Journal of Contemporary Asian Studies

Synergy is an undergraduate academic journal with a regional focus on East, Southeast, and South Asia founded at the Asian Institute. The journal regularly publishes academic submissions and organizes events. Learn more and visit the Synergy Journal website. 


Areas of focus - Victor Dementiev/Unsplash



Program Administrator & Communications Officer, Asian Institute