The University of Pennsylvania’s Asian American Studies Program: Reflections

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Following is an excerpt:
Eiichiro Azuma

In March of 2013, the University of Pennsylvania’s Asian American Studies (ASAM) celebrated its fifteenth-year anniversary. We are a small but vibrant ethnic studies program that not only mirrors the traditional ethnic studies vision of uniting scholarship, student activism and community service, but also endeavors to constantly adapt to the shifting intellectual needs of UPenn’s undergraduate student body. Our inception was inseparable from student activism and community support back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Currently, ASAM consists of four standing faculty members with a full-time Associate Director. All faculty are tenured — Grace Kao in Sociology, David Eng and Josephine Park in English, and myself in History. We belong to our respective home departments, as ASAM does not have its own faculty line. Dr. Fariha Khan, a specialist in South Asian American folklore, has a dedicated role as Associate Director, and also teaches core courses for the program. ASAM offers a minor in Asian American Studies, and we have contributed to the diversification of undergraduate curriculum in UPenn’s School of Arts and Sciences. Comprised of those who pursue the minor, our Undergraduate Advisory Board takes the initiative in organizing student-led conferences, lectures, and other events while advising faculty from the student perspective. ASAM has a close partnership with the Pan-Asian American Community House, a student service division that is a part of the Vice Provost for University Life.

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