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Asian & Asian American Studies 

Facilitators: Jessica Chan, Monti Datta, Jane Geaney, Bob Spires 

In the wake of the successful creation of an interdisciplinary Africana Studies Program, we propose a Faculty Learning Community that fosters cross-school conversations about the possibilities of creating an Asian & Asian American Studies Program.

1. Recent national tragedies have made a mark on UR students of Asian descent. Perhaps now more than ever, by choice and by coercion, geopolitical constructions of Asia and racial constructions of Asian Americans inform their lives. Having witnessed UR Black students’ activism for an Africana Studies major, and having endured relentless news of ethnocentrism and xenophobia in this country, UR students now fully recognize the value of what we do in the classroom. The heart of a university is its curriculum, and the absence of a coherent curriculum on Asian Studies and Asian American Studies is our shame.

2. Until the University of Richmond gives prominent academic attention to what counts as knowledge outside the Euro-American bubble, our students will not be prepared for “responsible leadership in a diverse world,” which is our university mission.

3.Our proposed FLC seeks to advance the university’s strategic commitment to inclusive and thriving community and academic excellence. If the University of Richmond is to live up to its vision of “modeling the way that colleges and universities can effectively meet the challenges of our time,” we need a timely educational response to recent anti-Asian tragedies and hostility to Asian Americans in this country. 
We propose to create a Faculty Learning Community – Asian & Asian American Studies – with the following goals:  

  • Fostering deep understanding of the (post)-Cold-War construction of Asian Studies and Asian American Studies in the liberal arts curriculum (e.g., exploring successful models from peer institutions).  
  • Fostering scholarly and pedagogical interaction among faculty (across the five schools) who already teach and research on topics related to Asia (as a geopolitical area encompassing many countries), the Asian diaspora, and Asian Americans (as a racial construction in the US). 
  • Considering the possibilities and challenges of creating an interdisciplinary academic program (e.g., staffing, curriculum cohesion, introductory courses, major requirements, accreditation).  
  • Envisioning a curriculum (and concomitant pedagogy) that integrates study abroad (specifically students returning from Asia) and community engagement (in both the US and Asia)—in consultation with the offices of International Education, Multicultural Affairs, and Common Ground.  

The geo/biopolitical, socio-economic, and racial construction of “Asia,” “Asian,” and “Asian American” can be explored through various academic disciplines: the arts, the humanities, law, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. To prepare our students with the critical tools to tackle pressing global issues such as economic inequality, environmental justice, global health, and racism, it is of utmost importance that UR supports a cross-disciplinary, and indeed cross-school, faculty learning community.  

We plan to recruit faculty from the School of Arts & Sciences, the Robins School of Business, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, the Law School, the School of Professional and Continuing Studies, the Libraries, and the University MuseumsWe will also include ideas – and occasionally participation – from student members of “Asia Connect,” an A&S Dean’s Office initiative to create a community for students, faculty, and staff concerned about the Asian and Asian American experience at UR (convened by Monti Datta since 2019).