The Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate is an interdisciplinary program that provides students with (1) a thorough understanding of both Asian and Asian American histories, experiences, and contemporary issues and (2) multi-disciplinary and multi-method research, analysis, and critical thinking skills, both of which prepare students for the increasingly diverse, globalized, and interconnected world of the 21st century.
Statement in Support of UMass Amherst's Black Community
In light of recent incidents of anti-Black racism that included anonymous emails sent to Black students and organizations at UMass Amherst, the Asian & Asian American Studies Program stands in unwavering solidarity with our Black community at UMass Amherst and beyond. We strongly echo the statements that were recently released by the Black Advisory Council of the Office for Equity and Inclusion, the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies, the Native Advisory Council, the Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies department, and our other allies across campus.
First and foremost, our thoughts are with the Black members of the UMass Amherst community who have been affected by these and other examples of anti-Black racism on campus and elsewhere. As the Black Advisory Council wrote, we share their outrage and heartbreak at once again having to endure such examples of hateful spite and we celebrate their ongoing resilience and strength in the face of these and other challenges.
As our colleagues have also pointed out, these ignorant and repugnant incidents illustrate how the legacy and ongoing tragic effects of institutional injustice and white supremacy are firmly embedded into U.S. social institutions, and demonstrate how Black lives are being systematically devalued. We support efforts to hold those who commit such acts of racial terror accountable, and we also call for changing the fundamental structures that reinforce and perpetuate systemic racism in all areas of U.S. society.
Finally, we reiterate our earlier calls for the Asian American community to recognize how the model minority stereotype contributes to false divisions with other communities of color, and may blind us to the oppression and injustice felt by members of the Black community. We also urge Asian Americans to reject attempts to use the increase in anti-Asian racism as another mechanism to perpetuate the overcriminalization of the Black community and instead, call on Asian Americans (and the field of Asian and Asian American Studies) to fight for concrete, meaningful actions that address fundamental inequities related to economic insecurity, healthcare, unemployment, housing, and incarceration for the Black community and all those in vulnerable positions.
Like many programs on campus, the AAASCP is still dealing with the ongoing challenges related to the pandemic, especially as it relates to strengthening student engagement and programmatic interest. Nonetheless, we were able to collaborate with numerous departments and offices on important programs and activities and graduated three students who completed the Certificate:
- Tiffany Huynh (Honors College/Comparative Literature), Concentration in Asian American Studies
- Taylor Lo (Environmental Science/Natural Resources Conservation), Concentration in Asian American Studies
- Kim Tran (Communication, expected official completion in Fall 2023)
Tiffany, Taylor, and Kim worked extremely hard throughout their courses and on their respective Senior Seminar capstone projects and completing the Certificate is an important accomplishment and one that they should definitely feel proud of, particularly given the challenges of these last few years. It is students like these who sustain the AAASCP and help make it vibrant and dynamic. We wish them the best of luck as they graduate, start the next chapter of their educational journey or their careers, and bring their knowledge and wisdom to their own communities.
The 2022-2023 year included many other highlights, including two significant organizational additions and changes. The first was hiring two undergraduate students, Sabrina Chan and Alicia Chhung, as part-time program staff who will work closely with me to promote the AAASCP to undergraduate students on campus. Alicia and Sabrina have already proven themselves to be energetic, self-motivated, and organized student-workers who are committed to building community and maximizing the success of the AAASCP and I am thrilled to have them on board.
The second major organizational change within the AAASCP was, our proposal to lower the number of courses required to complete the Certificate from eight (originally conceived as 22 credits) to six courses was approved by the Faculty Senate and the Provost. Through the years, the 8-course requirement has been consistently cited by students as the most significantly barrier that prevented them from seriously considering completing the Certificate. Now that the number has been reduced to just six courses, we are very hopeful and confident that the AAASC will be more attractive to prospective students.
Throughout the 2022-2023 academic year, the AAASCP was very proud to co-sponsor and/or collaborate with other programs on bringing the following speakers to the UMass campus:
- Judy Wu (U.C. Irvine), Thur. Sept. 29, 2022, "First Woman of Color in Congress: Patsy Takemoto Mink - The Intersectional Feminist Behind Title IX"
- erin Khue Ninh (U.C. Santa Barbara) and James Lee (U.C. Irvine), Wed. Oct. 19, 2022, "A Conversation with Asian American Studies Scholars"
- Ananya Chatterjea (University of Minnesota and independent artist), Thur. Oct. 27, 2022, "A Conversation with Ananya Chatterjea and the Transformative Power of Dance and Social Justice"
- Grace Cho (CUNY Staten Island), Thur. Nov. 10, 2022, "A Talk on Tastes Like War
- Linh Nguyen (University of Washington), Thur. Nov. 10, 2022, "Shattered Relationalities, Fetishizing Trauma and the Task of Representation"
- Juliette Lee (independent author, poet, and UMass Amherst MFA alum), Mon. Mar. 27, 2023, "Diaspora, Grief, & Creativity"
- Film screening and panel discussion of "Fly in Power (Solidarity in Asian Migrant Massage and Sex Workers)," Thur. April 27, 2023
Each of these events were important opportunities for participants to share their academic/professional expertise and personal experiences with the audience, and to reinforce our commitment to collaborating with and mutually supporting diverse programs and communities that are facing many political, economic, and cultural challenges. In connecting what we teach in the classroom to address real-world challenges, we honor and reinforce the power of higher education to make a meaningful difference in the everyday lives of vulnerable members of the community.
As part of the AAASCP's ongoing work on supporting Asian and Asian American faculty on campus, in the 2022-2023 year, we were also awarded a Mutual Mentoring grant by the UMass Amherst ADVANCE Program to conduct a series of four "dinner and discussion" events for Asian and Asian American (A&AA) faculty that included facilitator-led and topically-driven group discussions on issues such as research and publishing, teaching and pedagogy, work and life balance, promotion and job market preparation, public engagement, etc. Each event had about 20 attendees and participants were very enthusiastic, thankful, and appreciative of having these opportunities to network, share information and experiences, and offer mutual academic and interpersonal support to each other. This mutual mentoring team grant was another important step in the AAASCP's ongoing work to build a mutually-supportive academic and social support community across traditional disciplinary boundaries for A&AA faculty, empower them to become more engaged in campus activities and leadership opportunities to promote greater diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels, and to draw on the interdisciplinary energy of the group to boost academic innovation, knowledge production, and/or creative practices, and related academic activities.
To build on this momentum, the AAASCP was also recently awarded a Campus Climate Improvement grant from the Office of Equity and Inclusion to organize a 3-day "Asian and Asian American Cultural Festival" that celebrates the history, experiences, diversity, and unity among the Asian & Asian American community at UMass Amherst. This event seeks to forge closer collaborative relationships between A&AA undergrad students, grad students, staff, faculty, offices, and programs and build a stronger sense of community for not just A&AAs, but the entire campus community. Working in collaboration with the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS), the Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center (YKCC), the Asian & Asian American Defined Residential Community, and the Asian American Student Association (AASA) and tentatively scheduled for late September or early October, the preliminary schedule will iclude a celebration of different types of Asian food and cuisine, an art exhibition, and a talk or panel discussion with a high-profile Asian American celebrity, influencer, or professional.
A History of the Program
By the mid-1990s, three significant trends became increasingly prominent across many colleges around the U.S. -- (1) a recognition of the growing importance of globalized international affairs, particularly focused on Asia; (2) the political, economic, and cultural growth of the Asian American population; and (3) demographic trends and a large increase in the number of Asian and Asian American students enrolling in college. As a reflection of these developments, many students and scholars pushed for the expansion of Asian Studies and Asian American Studies at their campuses.
In the late 1990s, students at UMass Amherst engaged in numerous forms of activism, including protests and occupying the administration building, to demand the creation of an Asian American Studies program. Their efforts successfully culminated with the creation of a new joint undergraduate program in Asian and Asian American Studies in the spring of 2000. Since then, the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program has graduated close to one hundred students from diverse personal and academic backgrounds who have gone on to apply their knowledge and skills in numerous careers and pursuits.
As U.S. society becomes more diverse, multicultural, and globalized, and in the context of the cultural and economic emergence of Asian countries such as China and India, the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate gives students the opportunity to learn about the interconnections between two similar but unique sets of histories, cultures, and issues -- Asia and Asian America.
With course offerings and faculty specializing in numerous academic disciplines, the Certificate is designed to give students (1) an understanding of different Asian and Asian American ethnic groups and the range of historical, political, economic, demographic, and cultural issues related to their experiences and (2) interdisciplinary and multi-method research and learning skills to communicate and collaborate across cultures. In turn, these skills will give the student a competitive advantage in both their studies at UMass and in whatever career they enter once they graduate.
Please refer to the menu on the right for links to more information about the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate, including requirements to complete the certificate, frequently asked questions, and an updated listing of courses that count toward the certificate. For additional information, please contact:
C.N. Le, Director
Department of Sociology
Thompson Hall 828