The University of Pennsylvania's program in Asian American Studies (ASAM) was established in Fall 1996 as a result of joint student, staff, and faculty efforts. An interdisciplinary program that offers a Minor and a broad range of courses and activities, it explores the historical and contemporary experiences of Asian immigrants and of persons of Asian ancestry in North America.
Through core courses in Sociology, English, and History, our program explores questions of race and ethnicity in national and global contexts. We offer a wide range of elective courses as well: in Psychology, Folklore, South Asian Studies, and others. Asian American Studies minors have completed the program alongside a multitude of majors; in deepening the knowledge of cultural diversity within the United States and beyond, our program complements many different courses of study.
Most courses fulfill the Cultural Diversity in the US requirement in the School of Arts and Sciences. Course schedule and descriptions are available under Courses.
Dr. Rosane Rocher Prize for Best Undergraduate Essay in Asian American Studies, is offered every year. Dr. Rosane Rocher, Professor Emerita of South Asia Studies, was the founding Director of the Asian American Studies Program and played an instrumental role in the founding of the Pan Asian American Community House (PAACH). The $300 prize winning essay will be selected in the spring semester from papers submitted by students at the University of Pennsylvania for a course taken during the prior calendar year. Essays may be submitted by the student author or by the instructor for whose course the works were written. Papers in any field of Asian American Studies (history, literature, sociology, anthropology, economics, folklore, politics, and more) are eligible.
The Asian American Studies Program, in partnership with the University’s Undergraduate Advisory Board (UAB) and the Graduate Asian American Students Association (GASAM), sponsors conferences and events including film screenings, academic talks, and performances. Among these activities the Program organizes two ongoing speaker series, informal talks in Food for Thought and scholarly lectures in Asian America Across the Disciplines.
The Yoonmee Chang Memorial Lecture is also organized annually by ASAM. This memorial lecture host a distinguished speaker in honor of her memory and her work. Yoonmee Chang (November 2, 1970 – January 18, 2018) was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up in New York. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003 with a specialization in Asian American diasporic literature and culture. As a graduate student at Penn, she was an instrumental leader in the founding of the Asian American Studies Program. Yoonmee, author of the critically acclaimed book, Writing the Ghetto: Class, Authorship, and the Asian American Ethnic Enclave, taught at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana before becoming an Associate Professor at George Mason University from 2005 until her death in 2018.