Center for American Intercultural Studies > Asian American Studies Program

Asian American Studies Program


Mission and Vision StatementDusselier_photo11_small

Initiated in 1999 in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Asian American Studies Program at Iowa State University seeks to develop curriculum and research that give an account of the cultures and collective experiences of Americans who trace their ancestry to Asian countries. These areas of development will be responsive to the interests of a student constituency and larger state community in which the Asian American population is steadily growing. In addition to the Program’s academic agenda, the Program faculty will take a leading role in planning and organizing campus activities that foster recognition of and due respect for the Asian American arts, literature, and heritage. Such activities will include lectures, symposia, and participation in other programming related to diversity.

Relevance of Asian American Studies in Iowa

The development of an Asian American Studies Program at ISU responds to the changing demographics of a state in which Asian and Pacific Islanders in Iowa are counted at about 52,000, or 1.8% of the total state population. Woods & Poole Economics, Inc., projects that by the year 2030, about 125,360 Iowa residents will identify themselves as Asian Pacific Americans. Nearly a third of Iowa’s foreign-born population traces its descent to Asia, and of that number, 30,162, or 21.3% identify themselves as Vietnamese, making them the second-largest immigrant group, after the foreign-born Mexican Americans (State Data Center of Iowa, “Asian Heritage Month”). At ISU, 3.3% of the undergraduates and 1.6% of the graduate students identified themselves as Asian/Pacific Islander in Fall 2005, accounting together for some 772 students out of a total of 25,741 (ISU Office of Institutional Research, “Student Profile 2005-2006″).

Collaboration within CAIS

Asian American Studies is one of the four ethnic studies programs housed in the Center for American Intercultural Studies (CAIS). The Asian American Studies Program will collaborate with the other CAIS programs (in African American, American Indian and U.S. Latino/a Studies) in maintaining ethnic studies at Iowa State and in developing an intercultural studies curriculum within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. As envisioned by the program directors and faculty, this intercultural studies curriculum will offer a series of courses that will focus on areas of relations between ethnic groups. The intergroup relations that will undergo study will be categorized on four levels. This “tetradic” model of intercultural relations will give an account of (1) intragroup relations, (2) intergroup relations, (3) inter- or transnational intergroup relations, and (4) the relations of groups, such as those of Native Americans, who seek to defend their political sovereignty and advance their cultural autonomy.

Topics and Themes of the Asian American Studies Program

Course topics and program themes supported by the Asian American Studies Program will address issues of Asian Americans, and these issues may focus on any or all of the following areas: social stratification and ethnic identity among Asian American groups; Asian Americans in agriculture; transpacific cultural relations; legislation and citizenship; immigration and settlement patterns; refugee experiences; prejudice and discrimination; the family and marriage; gender, Asian American femininities and masculinities; technology and globalization; educational attainments; international business; Asian Americans in arts and popular culture; interethnic relations in America.

Five-Year Plan for Asian American Studies

An Asian American Studies Program Steering Committee is currently engaged in developing the curriculum, resources, and governance documents to support the operation of Asian American Studies under the oversight of the Center for American Intercultural Studies.

Its strategic plan for the next five years anticipates the following:

  • Creation of a faculty line with research and/or teaching focus in Asian American issues
  • Developing courses that will contribute to the building of a program in Asian American Studies and to the enhancement of academic diversity at Iowa State.
  • Sponsoring campus events and activities that highlight the heritage of Asian Americans
  • Collaboration with other ethnic studies programs supervised by the Center for American Intercultural Studies to produce a curriculum emphasizing the relations among American ethnic and cultural groups.

Members of the Asian American Studies Program Steering Committee: