I was doing a search on “Asian Americans” for any of the latest news, and came across this one in The Harvard Crimson: “Asian American Studies Still Waiting for an Entrance“:
“In 1987, Mark H. Kuo ’90 helped collect hundreds of student signatures to petition the University to hire an Asian American studies professor…Twenty years later, it’s déjà vu. The University still has no permanent professor in Asian American studies, and the Asian American Association (AAA) is starting yet another campaign to bring the field to Harvard. Despite years of flourishing at other universities, Asian American studies is still struggling to gain traction in Cambridge. The former chair of Harvard’s history department says that a general slowdown in social science and humanities growth in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) is partly to blame, and that advocates of Asian American studies have yet to make a compelling argument for why it should be emphasized. But others say that Harvard simply isn’t giving the study of Asian American history and culture the recognition it deserves…At west coast universities, where the historic influence of Asian American communities is stronger, Asian American studies has been an established field since the early 1970s. But over the last two decades, the field has moved east to find a home at Ivy League institutions. At Cornell, whose Asian American studies program was founded in 1978, students can take a course called “The Asian American Urban Experience.” The University of Pennsylvania offers “Asian-Americans in the Media.” Both schools have minors in Asian American studies and offer more than a dozen courses in the field every year. Meanwhile, Harvard’s course guide lists only four Asian American Studies courses offered at FAS this year—all taught by the same visiting professor, Eric Tang.”
When I read this article, I thought it was pretty sad that for a university like Harvard – with its wealth, resources, prestige and vast academic offerings across a multitude of disciplines, that Harvard had to depend on a visiting professor from the University of Illinois-Chicago to teach all of its courses on Asian American Studies.
Harvard’s African American Studies department is reputed to be one of the best in the nation. I’m not sure about Harvard’s other ethnic study programs, but it would seem like there has been student interest and demand for over 20 years that Harvard could be making more of an effort, at least to have a qualified Harvard professor to teach any course on Asian American studies. What do you think? (Note: Harvard’s Asian American undergraduate enrollment is about 17%)