Intro To Asian American Studies Class offered at UNM


Breana Albizu Anchor/Reporter  | May 16th, 2023

It may look like a typical class at the University of New Mexico (UNM), but it's anything but.

The subject? Exploration, narratives, and the history of Asian Americans. It's a very first for the college.

"It allows Asian American students to have a systemic, historical, cultural, interdisciplinary, [and] critical understanding of their own identity," Farah Nousheen, senior student success specialist at the university's Asian American and Pacific Islander Resource Center (AAPIRC), said.

A lecture like this is rare. Not just for New Mexico, but throughout the United States.

So Nousheen took matters into her own hands.

"The way we went about it, is just approach to different departments, because a department would have to host a course and the American Studies Department agreed," she said.

Nousheen also heads the school's AAPIRC.

"It's been attempted before, either the course or having some kind of Asian-American studies presence at UNM," she said. "I think that this time, there was a greater opportunity because of the center."

Around 20 students make up the class.

Shebati Sengupta is the instructor, as well as a graduate student at UNM.

"I don't have to pull [out] my PowerPoint or anything, because the questions and the way the students lead the course end up covering all of my material anyway," she said.

There's also a wide range of topics, from migration to violence against Asian Americans.

And the conversations can be hard.

"One of the things that really helps with that is the "Song Days", and looking at cultural products like that," Sengupta said. "We had a really great day where we listened to a Ruby Ibarra song. We talked about the intergenerational trauma she talks about in that song, which I think would have been a very difficult topic to enter otherwise."

Students like Bethany Brundage have enjoyed the class.

Especially when it comes to learning about one's own heritage.

"I think another reason is kind of learning about my own history," she said. "I'm actually adopted. I was born in China and then raised in Oregon."

As Brundage wraps up her time in the class, she's happy to see more understanding and awareness.

For students of all backgrounds.

"I think it's pretty easy and pretty empowering too," she said.

The class is so successful, that UNM is offering it again for next fall and spring. It will be led by the school's Communication and Journalism Department.

Students can currently sign up for the course.


Note from AAPIRC: 

We are featured on KOAT!

We are excited to announce that Intro to Asian American Studies will be offered again in Fall 2023! Please register soon! Let's make this a regular offering at UNM.
If you want to know how it fits in your degree plan, you can schedule an advisement appointment with us! It may (or may not) count for the following. Please check with your advisor.

  • Global Diversity & Inclusion requirement
  • Certificate for Race & Social Justice
  • American Studies major/minor
  • Sociology major/minor
  • Communications or Journalism major/minor
  • Women, Gender, & Sexuality major/minor 
Register using these course numbers:
  • CRN: 75874 COMM 1996
  • CRN: 76112 AMST 1996
  • CRN: 76056 SOCI 1996
  • CRN: 76587 GNDR 2996