University considers Asian-American studies minor

Abdel Shakur

n an effort to increase knowledge about Asian-American culture in the Midwest, the University is considering adding an Asian-American studies minor to its programs beginning this spring.

The new minor, proposed to the College of Liberal Arts, will give students an understanding of what it means to be an Asian-American, said Richard Lee, University psychology professor. Lee is also a member of the Asian American Studies Initiative, a program that has proposed increased learning of Asian-American culture.

Having such a program is important to a student’s University experience, Lee said.

“Ethnic studies in general provides a unique lens from other things in society,” he said.

The proposal for the program must go through the College of Liberal Arts Curriculum, Instruction and Advising Committee for approval. The Office of the Provost and the Board of Regents must then approve it, CLA Dean Steven Rosenstone said.

Available through the American studies department, the program would offer courses in race relations, as well as the historical background and social movements of Asian-Americans, Lee said. The program will also help students get involved in the community, he said.

While Minnesota boasts the second-largest Hmong community in the nation, and the University has more than 2,500 Asian-American students, the University has never had an Asian-American studies program.

“If you look at the Twin Cities area, the Asian-American population is large,” University graduate Lawrence Toledo said. “You see Asian-Americans every day and people don’t know about them.”

The University already offers a number of other ethnicity-based programs, including Chicano, African American and African, American Indian and American and East Asian studies.

“We are the only group on campus that does not have studies,” said May-yer Ly, an educational specialist from the Asian/Pacific American Learning Resource Center.

Carolyn Nayematsu, executive director of the Multicultural Center for Academic Programs, said, “Our professors will play a pivotal role in bringing up the Midwest experience.”

If the minor program is successful, Richard Lee said, the department could become a separate unit with its own major.

“We are all very hopeful and optimistic,” said Josephine Lee, a professor in English and member of the initiative.

Amy Costello welcomes comments at [email protected]