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Why do we need more investments in Asian American Studies at Stanford?

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

The case for a scholarly program.

With anti-Asian sentiment at an all-time high in the United States, we can change this trajectory, to stop anti-Asian hate and violence. We have the opportunity to catalyze change by increasing investment in Asian American Studies at Stanford University to develop future generations of culturally-aware leaders and thriving multicultural communities for the 21st century. Through this endowment, we can ensure that faculty working together can create meaningful scholarship and train the next generation of leaders.

  1. Lecturer’s departure renews concern over lack of tenured Asian American Studies faculty: The departure of Asian American Studies (AAS) lecturer William Gow for a tenure-track position at Cal State Sacramento has heightened calls for increased tenure-track funding and resources for Stanford’s AAS program. Professor Gow stated,“The Asian American Studies Program at Stanford is not as developed as it is at many universities. And part of that is due to the fact that the University doesn’t provide as many resources as it possibly might, in terms of supporting the program.”

  2. The Class of 1991 was the first to break double digits (12%) in terms of Asian American students. 30 years later, though AA now make up over a quarter of the incoming class, we still do not have our own department. "In the past, the University has faced scrutiny over its lack of support for ethnic studies programs. The University’s Framework Task Force recommended the departmentalization of the African and African-American Studies program in February following decades of Black student activism. Stanford’s AAS program is not currently departmentalized."

  3. Though Stanford does offer an undergraduate degree in AAS, the official budget only funds 2 full time AAS professors and 2 AAS courses. The program director's annual budget is only $5k.

As a world-class educational institution, we need a strong commitment to AAS to drive thought leadership not only at the university, but also in our ever-more polarized country. The AAS funding will provide a center of gravity to coalesce all the disparate efforts - whether research or projects - across the different institutions on campus: the School of Medicine, GSB, School of Law, Asian American Activities Center (A3C), Stanford Heritage Services, Asian Staff Forum, and SAPAAC.

We expect Stanford Alumni to change the world. We already do that in almost all fields: technology, legal, medical, business. But it's time to train the next generation to make changes in the much harder problems embedded in our racially-diverse society. How do we break through the bamboo ceiling? How do we inspire students to get involved in politics and ensure our hard fought civil rights are not forgotten?

We do that by educating the students of the Asian American history to ensure the past isn't repeated. We do that by researching the differences in culture so our students are prepared in the soft skills needed for promotions and career progression. We do that by publishing research by world-renown professors backed by Stanford's prestige. All this can be done through a strong, well-funded Asian American Studies program at Stanford.

We know what must done. We know it must be done now. Let's go do it.

Download Stanford Faculty's proposal for an INSTITUTE FOR ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES AT STANFORD.

Download PDF • 104KB


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