Asian American Studies

Program Offerings

Offering type

The Program in Asian American Studies, administered by the Effron Center for the Study of America, provides students with the opportunity to gain an interdisciplinary perspective on the diversity of Asian American and Pacific Islander histories, cultures and contemporary experiences. The course of study focuses on the formative emergence of this pan-ethnic group in the United States. It also highlights Asian America’s transnational connections and contexts, including the dynamics of globalization, migration, imperialism and postcoloniality. The structure of the Program in Asian American Studies facilitates productive engagement with the programs housed in the Effron Center and encourages comparative and intersectional work with the Department of African American Studies, Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies and other relevant fields of study that help to contextualize Asian American histories and cultures within the diversity of experiences in the United States.

For more information, please visit the Effron Center website.

Goals for Student Learning

  • Demonstrate interdisciplinary thinking by integrating knowledge from various disciplines, such as history, sociology, literature, political science, anthropology and cultural studies, to explore and analyze complex issues in Asian American studies.
  • Analyze and critically evaluate the impact of power structures, such as racism, colonialism and oppression on Asian American and Pacific Island communities in the United States, both within national, global, diasporic and trans-Pacific contexts.
  • Understand the importance of ethical research practices and engage in responsible scholarship that respects the rights and dignity of individuals and communities.
  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of the historical and contemporary experiences of Asian American and Pacific Island communities and other diverse ethnic groups in the United States, including their representation/identity, historical struggles and national contributions.
  • Develop strong research and analytical skills to investigate and interpret primary and secondary sources related to Asian American studies, including oral histories, literature, art, film and other media.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the interconnectedness of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class and other social categories in shaping the experiences of individuals and communities in the United States, Asia and the world.
  • Foster a critical understanding of social justice and advocacy movements led by different racial and ethnic communities, and the strategies and tactics employed to challenge systems of inequality that promote social change.
  • Develop effective written and oral communication skills to articulate complex ideas and arguments related to Asian American studies and engage in respectful dialogue and debate around issues of race, ethnicity, politics and power.
  • Apply theoretical knowledge and critical thinking skills to real-world issues and challenges faced by ethnic and racial communities in the United States, particularly Asian American and Pacific Island communities, and develop practical solutions that promote equity, justice and inclusivity.
  • Cultivate self-reflection and empathy, and recognize one's own positionality and biases in relation to different communities and the broader society.
  • Explore the diversity of identities and experiences within and across ethnic communities, including but not limited to Indigenous, African American, Asian American and Pacific Island, Latino/a/x and Middle Eastern communities in the United States of America.


Admission to the Program

Students from all departments are welcome to the program. There are no prerequisites, and courses taken prior to enrollment may count toward the minor requirements. Students are encouraged to enroll in the minor beginning at the end of sophomore year through the end of junior year. Students are normally encouraged to take the gateway course AMS 101 prior to declaring the minor, however students may also do so at any time during their studies, including after enrollment in the minor. To enroll in the program, students should complete the online enrollment form on the Effron Center website. New students should plan to meet with the associate director or program coordinator of the Effron Center before the end of their first year of enrollment to review their plans for fulfilling the minor requirements.


Program of Study

Students may earn a minor in Asian American studies by successfully completing the following requirements, consisting of five courses:

  1. AMS 101: America Then and Now
  2. Three courses in Asian American studies, either originating in the program or cross-listed, and preferably representing disciplinary breadth in the social sciences, arts and humanities. No more than one course taken in fulfillment of the student’s major may be counted toward the minor. With the approval of the associate director, a student may substitute a comparative race and ethnicity course that contains substantial Asian American studies content for one of these courses.
  3. Advanced Seminar in American Studies. With the approval of the associate director, a student may substitute an advanced seminar with additional ASA elective to further their scholarship in this field.


  • Director

    • Beth Lew-Williams
  • Associated Faculty

    • Anne Cheng, English
    • Christina H. Lee, Spanish & Portuguese
    • Beth Lew-Williams, History
    • Ryo Morimoto, Anthropology
    • Paul Nadal, English
    • Kinohi Nishikawa, English

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.


ASA 101 - Comparative Perspectives on Power, Resistance and Change (also AMS 101/LAO 101) Fall CDEC

ASA 370 - Asian American History (also AMS 370/HIS 270) Fall CDHA

ASA 406 - Advanced Seminar (also AMS 406/LAO 406) Fall HA