Harvard University, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, has announced that it will begin teaching Indonesian language as part of its efforts to develop Southeast Asian cultural studies.
The decision to offer Indonesian language classes comes after more than two years of effort by the university’s Department of South Asian Studies to enhance Southeast Asian education at Harvard.
According to The Harvard Crimson, the university’s student newspaper, Harvard will also offer Tagalog language classes from the Philippines and Thai from Thailand.
The Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University will recruit three instructors to teach Tagalog, Indonesian, and Thai. The three language classes are set to begin in the academic year of 2023-2024.
Harvard University has yet to establish a separate department for Southeast Asian cultural studies, so it falls under the Department of South Asian Studies.
However, the addition of Indonesian language classes indicates that the university is committed to expanding its Southeast Asian curriculum.
The Asia Center’s Director and Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, James Robson, stated that Harvard has been working to enhance education on Southeast Asia for more than two years.
He hopes that the inclusion of these languages will demonstrate that there is a demand for them and that students will become interested in studying them.
“Then hopefully, we can also use this to persuade the government to support Southeast Asian studies more broadly and language teaching in particular,” Robson said.
Harvard’s decision to offer Indonesian language classes further extends the reach of foreign institutions that provide education on Indonesia and the Indonesian language.
Apart from Harvard in the United States, the University of Turku in Finland and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in South Korea have also offered Indonesian language courses.
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in Japan, Chulalongkorn University, and Naresuan University in Thailand also offer Indonesian language courses.
Moreover, Indonesian language has already been widely taught in schools across Australia, with many schools making it mandatory for students to study Indonesian until the seventh grade.
This highlights the importance of the Indonesian language as a language of global significance and demonstrates the need for more educational institutions to offer it as part of their curriculum.