COOL CLASSES: “Asian American Psychology”

This seminar course addresses major theories and findings in Asian American psychology, with a focus on immigration and acculturation, ethnic identity, stereotyping and discrimination, families and development, and mental health.

Class name: Asian American Psychology”

Taught by: Associate Professor of Psychology Shu-wen Wang


Here’s what Wang has to say about her course:

My class draws upon psychological theories and empirical research to help students better understand the patterns in cognition, emotion, development, and social relationships that impact health and well-being for Asian Americans (the North American diaspora of people from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands). We focus on giving voice to and illuminating Asian American ethnic minority experiences in the United States, as shaped by immigration, acculturation, ethnic identity, and stereotyping and discrimination processes. We address questions such as: What is the psychosocial legacy of the model-minority myth? How do immigration and acculturation processes impact child development and family dynamics? How do racial microaggressions and perpetual foreigner syndrome impact mental health and well-being? Why does emotion expression look different in Asian American versus Western families, and how does that impact support use and mental health?

Of course, students who take the course don’t all personally identify as Asian Americans—this course is a rigorous scholarly course open to students of all backgrounds who have an interest in the topic—but for the many Asian or Asian American students taking the course, I hope that students come to see themselves reflected in the material and that they gain deeper insight into their own experiences.

One of my first teaching experiences in graduate school was as a teaching assistant for an Asian American psychology course at UCLA that regularly had class sizes in the hundreds. That was a profound classroom experience in which I saw the academic and personal impact of psychology courses that put the experiences of people of color center stage, which are so often under-emphasized and on the fringes of general psychology. The need for representation is real. The impact of representation is real. As an Asian American whose research examines cultural variation in social-emotional processes and well-being in Asian Americans and Latinx groups, I see it as a real privilege and responsibility to offer these kinds of courses. These are the kinds of courses that I wish I had in college, but were not available to me. Fortunately, my colleague Heejung Park had also recently developed an Asian American psychology seminar course at Bryn Mawr College that has been very popular, so we both knew that student demand was very high.




See what other courses the Department of Psychology is offering this semester.

Photo: Shu-wen Wang’s “Asian American Psychology” class tours the Beat of Resistance exhibition at the Asian Arts Initiative. Photo by Holden Blanco ’17.


Cool Classes

A series highlighting interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford College experience.