Intellectual Maturity

Intellectual Maturity - 2015-2020


This chapter highlights IUB’s AAST transition from program building to one of growth.  During this period, AAST expands its programming, courses, and research into new areas of inquiry, creative expression, and interdisciplinary exploration.  Program directors add new courses that focus on campus outreach (“Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities and Social Change,” Spring 2019) and examining Asian American Studies through different lenses including Asian American Sexualities (Spring 2019).  AAST grows its campus outreach by establishing annual traditions such as the AAST Film Series MOVEMENT: ASIAN/PACIFIC AMERICA (2012), the Asian American Studies Research Symposium (2012), and scholarly talks from prominent Asian American and Pacific Islander scholars, artists, writers, and activists.  Centering on intersectionality, AAST amplifies its programming collaborations with several campus partners including Latino Studies and Native American/Indigenous Studies under the Race, Migration, and Indigeneity (RMI), an ethnic studies-type program officially established in March 2020.  Today, IUB’s AAST program maintains its vision through research, teaching, and programming to generate novel possibilities for the globalizing world of the 21st century.

Spring 2016—RMI: AAST Begins Consolidation Negotiations with College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Jennifer Lee, interim AAST director, represents AAST in talks with the College of Arts and Sciences to consolidate three of IUB’s ethnic studies programs—AAST, Latino Studies, and Native and Indigenous Studies—into an Ethnic Studies-type program. The College proposes the merger to streamline limited university resources and increase course enrollments.  With support from IUB Provost Lauren Robel, the College promises increased discretionary funding and six cluster faculty hires (four tenure-track and 2 tenured positions) for the Ethnic Studies program.  Dr. Lee and the other program directors initially hesitate to go along with the merger for fear of losing individual program autonomy with course offerings, minors, and funding.(6) Yet they ultimately agree to the proposal and rename the new initiative the Program in Race, Migration, and Indigeneity (RMI) to reflect interdisciplinary, intersectional approaches to Ethnic Studies.(7)  

With support from IUB Provost Lauren Robel, the College promises increased discretionary funding and six cluster faculty hires ... for the Ethnic Studies program.

Fall 2017—AAST Expands Graduate Student Community through Graduate Advisory Board

Thanks to Jordan Lynton (PhD student, Anthropology) and Shelley Rao’s (PhD student, Sociology) leadership, AAST launches the Asian American Studies Graduate Advisory Board, an interdisciplinary network connecting graduate students from across campus. The new Board is crucial to the program’s efforts to build a graduate student community around AAST research and professional development. The Board hosts AAST’s annual Research Symposium, invites Asian American Studies scholars to speak, coordinates faculty-student meet and greets. Members organize the Asian American/Asian Diaspora Writing Group (Jordan Lynton, PhD student, Anthropology) and the AAST Graduate Student Book Club (Stephanie Kung, PhD student, English and Mihee Kim-Kort, PhD student, Religious Studies) and volunteer for various AAST and Asian Culture Center programs.(10)

AAST's 2018 Annual Film Series Features: "Mele Murals," "Motherland," and "Gook."

June 2020—IUB AAST Celebrates University’s Bicentennial with Timeline Project

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Indiana University’s founding in 1820, our team applies for a grant through the Office of the Bicentennial to document the creation of IUB’s AAST program.  With this funding, we spend a year researching, designing, and curating this digital exhibit. Our goal is to explain how students, faculty, staff, and alumni advocated and established an Asian American Studies program at IUB.  Addressing the goals of IU’s Bicentennial, this digital timeline project hopes to revise the university’s historical narrative by celebrating the unrecognized stories of the Asian American community at IU. 

We especially want to recognize and thank all of the graduate assistants, instructors, and staff who are indispensable in teaching, supporting, and growing the program before and after its creation in September 2008.(15)  Without our past and present supporters, this project—nor this program—would have not been possible.  We hope that our story inspires future generations of students to engage in the study and advocacy of Asian Americans here at IU and beyond.  For more on how our team designed and curated this digital timeline project, see Curator’s Notes.