You are here

Facts: Department of American Ethnic Studies

On this page:

The Department of American Ethnic Studies encompasses specific, interrelated, multiethnic, and transnational histories of African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islander Americans, Chicanos/ Chicanas, Latinos/Latinas, and Native Americans. Nationally, it was among the first programs in this field to gain departmental status.

Download Fact Sheet PDF



American Ethnic Studies is the interdisciplinary and comparative exploration of historical and contemporary relations of power and issues of social justice in American societies. Our main fields of research and pedagogy focus on the United States but also extend into questions about global and transnational dimensions, concepts, and histories concerning race and ethnicity in America.

Students earn a BA degree in American Ethnic Studies by taking core courses on ethnic-specific as well as comparative, multi-ethnic subjects. At the same time, they develop an emphasis in one of the four concentrations that make up the major.

In addition to ethnic studies courses in the social sciences, humanities, and interdisciplinary studies, the curriculum of the department includes language instruction in Swahili and Tagalog.

Internship and practicum courses enable students to work in community agencies and organizations. This exposes them to concrete labor and social experiences, and also affords them the opportunity to perform outreach services and apply their learning in active participation in the community.

The faculty, staff, students, and curriculum of AES are perhaps the most culturally diverse at the UW. This special characteristic greatly promotes the educational benefits of diversity in the classroom, such as the ability to respect difference and to engage in dialogue about diverse subjects from multiple, critical points of view.

Over the last three decades, American Ethnic Studies graduates have gone on to develop professional careers in academia, business, law, medicine, education, public administration, politics, diplomacy, community services, athletics, and more.


  • 98 Undergraduate Majors

*Autumn 2018

Degrees Awarded*

  • 38 Bachelor of Arts degrees

*August 2017 - September 2018

Major Student Awards*

  • Public Policy Fellowships
  • International Affairs Fellowships
  • Woodrow Wilson Merit Scholarships
  • Husky 100 Awards (3)
  • McNair Scholars (4)
  • Wang Scholarship for Honor Students
  • Fritz scholarship
  • BECU scholarship
  • Husky Leadership Certificate
  • Zesbaugh Scholarship for Education
  • Del Rio Global Citizens Scholarship
  • Mary Gates Leadership Scholarship (Brukab Sisay)
  • Martin and Anne Jugum Scholarship in Labor Studies
  • Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes Scholarship in Labor Studies

*2016 - 2018



  • 3 Professors
  • 4 Associate Professors
  • 5 Assistant Professors
  • 1 Acting Assistant Professor
  • 1 Principal Lecturer
  • 3 Lecturers
  • 5 Emeritus Faculty

AES faculty include the current UW President, who is holder of an endowed professorship and is former dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, former UW Provost, and former executive vice provost. Other faculty in leadership positions include:

  • Director of the Diversity Minor
  • Director, Oceania and Pacific Islander Studies Minor program
  • Former Chair, National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies
  • 2 Former Presidents, Association for Asian American Studies
  • Council Member, Indigenous Seed Keepers Network

Faculty Awards

Major awards and national organization offices held by AES faculty include:

  • Community Service Award, Society for Applied Sociology
  • Black Student Union Faculty/Staff Award
  • 2 SITPA Fellowships (Summer Institute on Tenure & Professional Advancement, Duke University)
  • Government of Japan, Imperial Decoration, Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette
  • Book Prize – Best Edited Volume, The Association for the Study of Food and Society
  • Book Prize – Outstanding Academic Book, Choice Book Prize – Honorable Mention, Gustavus Myer Center for the Study of Bigotry
  • Editor-in-chief, Journal of Asian American Studies
  • Co-Editor, Culture, Place, Nature Book series, University of Washington Press
  • Co-editor, Asian American History and Culture Series (Temple University Press)
  • Member, Council of Editors of Learned Journals
  • Excellence in Mentoring Award, Association for Asian American Studies
  • Director, NCTE’s Cultivating New Voices Among Scholars of Color Mentoring Program
  • 3 Simpson Center Society of Scholars Fellowships
  • Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship
  • Chair, Society for the Study of Social Problems
  • Principal Investigator, Interpretive Research Grant, National Endowment for the Humanities
  • 4 Ford Fellowships
  • Washington State Governor’s Ethnic Heritage Award
  • Citizen of the Year – Chinese American Citizens Alliance
  • 4 Community Service Awards, International Examiner



Scholarship by American Ethnic Studies faculty includes many articles, essays, book chapters, and book reviews, as well as books and anthologies on diverse subjects, including: J. Raymond Jones and Tammany; transforming the curriculum by making ethnic and women’s studies central to a liberal arts education; writing in multicultural settings; food and environmental justice; social stratification and inequality; gender, sexuality, and class; labor and immigration; political economy; American Ethnic Studies theory and methodology; women’s history in the Mexican military; Chicano labor history; technology, work, gender, and ecology on the U.S.-Mexico border; Chicano history and culture of Oregon; Chicano art and artists; U.S. Hispanic literature; African American literature and culture; Black intellectual traditions; gender and family in African American communities; Hawaii’s polyethnic literature; Japanese American imprisonment in WWII; Asian American literature; Asian American communities; Filipino Americans and the cultural politics of place; and Asian American and Pacific Islander American women.

Areas of Scholarship

  • African American Studies
  • Agroecology
  • Anthropology
  • Asian American Studies
  • Chicanx Studies
  • Communication
  • Comparative American Ethnic Studies
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Cultural Studies
  • Decolonial Studies
  • Environmental Justice
  • Environmental History-Greater Mexico
  • Ethnoecology and Ethnomedicine
  • Film Studies
  • Food Studies
  • History and Migration Studies
  • Immigration and Citizenship
  • Labor
  • Latin American Literature and Culture
  • Latinx Studies
  • Multiethnic American History
  • Multiethnic American Literature, Music and Performing Arts
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Public Health and Policy
  • Settler Colonial Studies
  • Social Movement Studies
  • Sociology
  • Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies



Department of American Ethnic Studies
Box 354380
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-5401


Fact sheet last updated: December 2018