Mission Statement

The Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate is an interdisciplinary program consisting of eight courses 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.

A Brief History

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
Tel: 413-545-4074

Systemic Racism, Police Brutality, and the CoViD-19 Situations

The Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program stands in strong solidarity with the Black community in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and countless other innocent Black lives who were killed as a result of police brutality. We echo the statement from our Chancellor that highlights how these events illustrate the ongoing legacy and tragic effects of institutional racism and injustice that are firmly embedded into U.S. social institutions that result in Black lives systematically devalued. We support efforts to hold those who commit such acts of violence and racial terror accountable, and efforts at changing the fundamental structures that reinforce and perpetuate systemic racism in all areas of U.S. society. The Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program also calls on members of the Asian Pacific American community to acknowledge how the model minority stereotype contributes to the oppression and injustice felt by members of the Black community.

We also support the statement of organizations such as the Association for Asian American Studies in regard to the harassment of Asian Pacific Americans due to the Covid-19 situation:

The Centers for Disease Control recently announced that the Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 may spread in the United States. As people take precautions to manage their health (the two biggest precautions are frequent handwashing and staying home if you are sick), the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) wants to also acknowledge the rise of anti-Asian (especially anti-Chinese) harassment that many Asian Americans (particularly those who look East Asian) are experiencing.

As an organization dedicated to the study of Asian Americans, we want to be very clear that xenophobia has no place in our communities or workplaces, and that harassment of Asians due to fears of the coronavirus are not only unwarranted but sadly part of a longer history of stereotypes associating Asians, especially Chinese, with disease. We stand firm in rejecting anti-Asian bigotry in the guise of people expressing fear of Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19. We also urge people to find resources that will educate them about how to manage their health as well as why their prejudices/biases in assuming all Asians have the virus are rooted in a history of Yellow Peril rhetoric, xenophobia, ableism, and anti-Asian racism. Please encourage your colleagues and friends to explore this open-source syllabus that addresses anti-Asian bias associated with the coronavirus. And please remember: frequent handwashing, not anti-Asian stereotypes/harassment, is your best means of preventing the spread of coronavirus.

To document such hate incidents, those affected are encouraged to report them using any or all of the following websites:

'Hate Has No Place Amidst The Pandemic' by Chanel Miller / https://time.com/5820656/chanel-miller-coronavirus-racism 'Hate Has No Place Amidst The Pandemic' by Chanel Miller / https://time.com/5820656/chanel-miller-coronavirus-racism

The following sites may contain useful resources for those who have experienced such hate incidents (UMass Amherst is not affiliated with any of the following and including their link is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily imply an endorsement):

Other statements about the Covid-19/Coronavirus situation and its effects on Asian Americans can be found below (each link is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily imply an endorsement):

What's New

The 2019-2020 academic year was extraordinary in many ways. Like the rest of the world, life at UMass Amherst was thrown into turmoil in March 2020 due to the CoViD-19 pandemic. Along with transitioning to remote teaching / learning and supporting our students and their families through this difficult period, we as faculty also had to mobilize resources to guard against and respond to anti-Asian discrimination that reemerged during this time (see the section above).

Despite all of these challenges, we still completed another successful year and we congratulate these two students on completing the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate for 2019-2020:

  • Ann Liptak, Concentration in Asian Studies
  • Zoe Shenk, Concentrations in Asian American Studies

Screenshot of virtual student presentation event conducted on Zoom for students completing the UMass Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate and the Five College APA Studies Certificate on May 14, 2020 Screenshot of virtual student presentation event conducted on Zoom for students completing the UMass Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate and the Five College APA Studies Certificate on May 14, 2020

The screenshot above is from the virtual student presentation event conducted on Zoom for students completing the UMass Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate and the Five College APA Studies Certificate on May 14, 2020. Ann and Zoe (along with the three students from the other Five College campuses) worked very hard throughout their courses and particularly with their Senior Seminar capstone projects. Completing the Certificate is an important accomplishment and one that they should definitely feel proud of. It is students like these who sustain the Certificate Program and help make it vibrant and dynamic. Best of luck to them all as they graduate, start their careers, and bring their knowledge and wisdom to their own communities.

The 2019-2020 year included many other highlights. A big thanks and congratulations to the indomitable Lily Tang and the staff of the Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center for organizing the second annual Asian American Film Festival that took place Nov. 6-8, 2019 and featured:

The turnout for all three events was outstanding as attendees gained valuable insights into the realm of media and filmmaking and saw different examples of how to incorporate Asian American identity and experiences into their work. Through Lily’s tireless hard work, passion, and energy, the second annual UMass Asian American Film Festival was another resounding success and the Certificate program was thrilled to contribute to this impressive achievement. We are also very grateful to Mike Bow for making this video to promote the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate:

The Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program was also proud to collaborate with the Asian Arts and Culture Program (through the UMass Fine Arts Center) to host Jen Shyu, a groundbreaking vocalist, composer, producer, instrumentalist, and dancer who gave an interactive presentation with students from the UMass Asian and Asian American Residential Community on Nov. 7, 2019.

Faculty who participate in the Certificate program also made important contributions to the campus community and beyond by organizing talks and visits by numerous scholars and activists throughout the academic year that focused on a wide variety of topics, such as a public history and walking tour exhibit on "Waging Peace in Vietnam," exiles from Tibet, transgender health in South Korea, fantasy stories for Japanese Brazilian children, poetry from writer Franny Choi, a reading by 2019 MacArthur 'Genius' Grant winner and UMass faculty Ocean Vuong, the history of Chinese workers on the Transcontinental Railroad project, a talk by Professor Erika Lee on xenophobia in the U.S., and a symposium titled "Amer-Asia: Object Lessons in Early Modern Connectivity."

After the campus transitioned to remote instruction, I was personally very honored to participate in two important online Zoom seminars that focused on emerging issues and dynamics related to the effects of the CoViD-19 pandemic on minority communities:

Some video clips of my comments from each seminar are available at Asian-Nation. I was very privileged to share this (virtual) space with so many wonderful UMass Amherst colleagues, to be able to share our academic expertise and personal experiences with each other and with the audience, and to reinforce our commitment to collaborating with each other to mutually support our programs and our communities that are being threatened politically, economically, and culturally. In reinforcing the mission of the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program, as we individually and collectively continue our fight for justice and equality, let's also remember to celebrate all of the positive and inspiring examples of our experiences, and to draw on the strength, resilience, and power of our families, our communities, and our allies.

As part of its mission to contribute to the rich and vibrant academic community of UMass Amherst and the Five Colleges, the AAASCP continues to forge strong collaborative relationships with the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS), the Asian/Asian American Residential Community in Lewis Hall, the Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center (YKCC), and the Asian Arts and Culture Program (AACP) and was very pleased to partner with them on several events and activities.

As we continually impress upon our Certificate students, as U.S. society becomes increasingly culturally diverse and globalized, those who have a detailed understanding of different racial/ethnic groups, of international socioeconomic issues, and multi-methodological and interdisciplinary research and analytical skills -- all of which the AAAS Certificate gives them -- will have a competitive advantage in their studies at UMass, in whatever career they enter once they graduate, and in applying their knowledge as community leaders in 21st century U.S. society.

University Response to Federal Immigration Actions

UMass Amherst has created a page that contains updated information and resources related to recent federal actions restricting immigration from certain countries. Any member of the UMass Amherst community with travel-related concerns or questions should contact the International Programs Office at (413) 545-2710. For further information, contact Kenneth Reade, Director of International Student & Scholar Services, at kjreade@ipo.umass.edu or (413) 545-2843.

For an updated listing of upcoming talks, events, and other activities related to the certificate program, remember to check and to 'like' our Facebook Page!