Asian American Studies Curriculum Framework

This framework introduces an Asian American Studies framework to K-12 educators. The framework avoids common multicultural approaches that only include communities of color and marginalized groups through disjointed, superficial lessons focused on food, fun, and festivals. It also recognizes that Asian American studies is interdisciplinary and offers a thematic approach to teach Asian American studies across curriculum and throughout the year. The framework has four components: (a) definition of the term “Asian American” and Asian American studies; (b) essential concepts and major themes within each concept; (c) teaching considerations; and (d) a glossary of terms mentioned in the essential concepts and themes. A compendium of resources is available on the website to support teachers in developing lessons based on the framework.

Essential concepts, themes and questions in this framework are below.


Exploration of Self

  • What identities do you hold? (Think about race, ethnicity, religion, class, gender, immigration status, etc.)
  • What does learning about our identities teach me about others? Myself?
  • What identities are viewed as part of the dominant group (what is considered the norm or “normal”) in the society you live in? 
  • Which of your overlapping identities may be marginalized in the society you live in?
  • How are some identities expressed more in certain spaces than other identities?
  • How do the social spaces in which you participate impact how you view your own identity and the identities of others?

Stereotypes & Discrimination

  • When you imagine “Asian American”, who do you imagine (which groups/communities) and who is left out of your imagination? 
  • How are certain identities stereotyped and represented/misrepresented? 
  • How could such stereotypes become reinforced in various aspects of society (law, education, media, health care, prison system, sports, entertainment)? 
  • How have stereotypes impacted the ways Asian Americans have been discriminated against in U.S. society?

Power & Oppression

Imperialism, War & MIgration

  • What is imperialism and how did it impact Asian migration to the United States?
  • How have U.S. imperialism, wars, and military interventions in Asia induced Asian migration to the United States?
  • When and from where have different groups of Asians migrated to the United States?
  • What factors impacted how the U.S. designed its immigration and exclusion policies? 
  • How do current economic initiatives continue Asian migration for specific labor? 

Citizenship & Racialization

  • What are dominant perceptions of what it means to be “American” and what has shaped these ideas? 
  • How have Asian Americans fit into (or not) these perceptions and how have they been excluded or included from “American” citizenship? 
  • How does this inform Asian Americans’ relationships to other racialized groups?

Community & Solidarity

Resistance & Solidarity

  • How have various groups of Asian Americans resisted against discriminatory laws, policies, and practices?
  • How have Asian Americans built cross-ethnic and cross-racial solidarity to fight against racism and discrimination?
  • What are examples of everyday resistances and acts of solidarity that individuals and families engage in to maintain linguistic, religious, ethnic practices in spite of the dominant cultures’ oppressive structures?
  • What can these acts of resistance and alliances indicate to us about pathways forward?

Contention & Complexity

  • In what ways have Asian Americans been complicit in anti-Black racism and settler colonialism? 
  • In what ways have Asian Americans sought to dismantle oppression? 
  • What contentions and divisions are there within and across various groups of Asian Americans and why?  How have they affected various communities?

Reclamation & Joy

Reclaiming Histories

  • How have Asian Americans reclaimed their histories and spaces of belonging that are largely forgotten, misrepresented, or left absent in the dominant society?
  • How does reclaiming Asian American histories and stories allow Asian Americans to think about identity and power?
  • How does Asian American reclamation of histories and spaces contribute to collective struggles against settler colonialism? How can we reconcile this?

Creative Expression

  • How is representation impacted by both the producer and the audience?
  • Who are some Asian American artists that have challenged systems and brought attention to Asian American stories?
  • How have Asian Americans shown ingenuity and creativity beyond what is traditionally known as the arts?
  • How have Asian Americans expressed their struggles, resilience, and hopes through arts and other creative expressions?

Asian American Studies K-12 Framework

Author: Asian American Research Initiative
Date: May 2022

Asian American Studies Framework Compendium

Recommended texts, instructional resources, videos, and other media to support educators in creating and teaching Asian American studies lessons based on the K-12 Framework.