How do people facing horrible circumstances come to organize with one another, and then to take upon themselves the responsibility to change those very circumstances? The study of social movements is in a profound way the study of how people found and strengthened one another, how they shared resources and then built new methods to change their conditions, and how their activities made our societies more just in spite of intense resistance to their efforts. In Asian American Studies, historical accounts of social movements and of community building explain the very existence of our field, including our Department—that is, without activism, without Asian Americans coming together and demanding an intellectual space within the University, we simply wouldn’t have a Department of Asian American Studies.
Professor Diane Fujino is a leading scholar of social movements, including those Asian American social movements that were so transformative in the postwar period. Her lower and upper division classes consistently attract a new generations of students interested not just in studies of how communities of conscience got together and made changes in the past, but of how to continue making such spaces on our campus and beyond. Professor Cho offers classes that show how art and performance can serve and further activism, how they can be an integral part of progressive community-making. Professor Lisa Park’s research examines the intersections of migration and environmental justice movements.