UMass Boston

Current And Recent Projects

Status of Asian American Studies in High School Curriculums

The rise of anti-Asian hate during the pandemic sparked a national movement for Asian American studies to be included in high school curriculums. Massachusetts has no such requirement in its academic standards. To ascertain the status of Asian American studies in MA public high schools, IAAS is conducting a statewide survey of teachers to gather data on how they are (or are not) including Asian American studies content in their required and elective courses. The report will also spotlight several Asian American studies programs or courses in the state.

Understanding Substance Use and Addiction-Related Needs of Asian Americans in MA

Substance addiction among Asian Americans in Massachusetts is poorly understood. This project seeks to better understand how Asian Americans perceive and have been impacted by opioids as well as other addictive substances. The researchers will gather information about what Asian Americans know about available resources to address substance addiction, what barriers exist in accessing current services, and how access can be improved. As this project is a collaboration with the Trotter Institute, Gaston Institute, and the Institute for New England Native American Studies, similar efforts will be occurring in the Latino, African American, and Native American communities. Support is provided by the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services at the MA Department of Public Health.

Experiences of Asian Americans During the COVID-19 Pandemic 

Since 2020–2021, IAAS has been examining the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic on Asian Americans in the Greater Boston area. The first study focused on Chinese, Vietnamese, and South Asian Americans with limited income and English proficiency. Currently, IAAS is conducting a similar study on the experiences of Cambodian Americans in Lowell, working with the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association as its partner. The report from the first study, authored by Dr. Carolyn Wong and Ziting Kuang, is available for download: Asian Americans and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Excerpts of the report translated to Chinese and Vietnamese are available from IAAS. Please contact us for digital copies.

Asian-owned Businesses in MA

IAAS is working with the Asian Business Empowerment Council at The Boston Foundation on a study on the status and needs of Asian American businesses in the state. IAAS has used several datasets from the U.S. Census to collect information on the number of firms, demographics of owners, employees, sales and revenues, and sector. It will also provide support with analyzing the results of a survey and focus groups that will examine both the successes and challenges of Asian-owned businesses.

Anti-Asian Racism Project 

The state legislature allocated special funds to the Institute for Asian American Studies to study the history and experiences of Asian Americans with racism. IAAS has hired dedicated staff to coordinate and engage in activities which will include conducting research, producing reports, and engaging in community outreach. Five faculty at UMass Boston have been awarded grants to support studies on Asian American experiences with racism that became particularly acute during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Supporting Older Asian Americans in Greater Boston

IAAS has been partnering with the Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston on a number of projects to support older people of color in Greater Boston. A previous project, made possible by a grant from the AARP Foundation, sought to improve the access of older people of color to existing programs that could reduce economic insecurity. The Gerontology Institute’s Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging developed outreach and training materials with the assistance of IAAS, as well as the Trotter and Gaston Institutes, and the Institute for New England Native American Studies. A newer project funded by the City of Boston seeks to improve access to city services for older people of color living in Boston. IAAS also contributed to the report, Aging Strong for All: Examining Aging Equity in the City of Boston, which contains a profile of Boston's older Asian American population.

Ethnic Studies Curriculum for Boston Public Schools

Since 2020, IAAS, along with the Trotter and Gaston Institutes and the Institute for New England Native American Studies, worked with Boston Public Schools to develop course curriculum and provide teacher training to expand ethnic studies in the high schools. Course materials are strongly tied to local communities of color. Asian American Studies Professor Peter Kiang has developed curriculum for this project based upon the experiences of Asian American communities in Chinatown and Dorchester.

Climate Change and Communities of Color in Greater Boston

The Sustainable Solutions Lab (SSL) at UMass Boston was established to address how climate change and related policies affect and neglect vulnerable populations such as low-income groups, and racial, ethnic and linguistic minorities. IAAS, Gaston Institute, Trotter Institute, and Institute for New England Native American Studies are partners in this campus-wide effort. IAAS has assisted in research on how people of color in the Boston area understand and experience climate change. Findings can be found in two reports:  Views that Matter: Race and Opinions on Climate Change of Boston Area Residents Views that Matter: Race and Opinions on Climate Change of Boston Area Residents and Voices that Matter: Boston Area Residents of Color Discuss Climate Change


To learn about our previous activities, please contact us.

Institute for Asian American Studies

Healey Library 10-7
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125-3393