St. Kate’s to offer new Hmong Studies minor

Photo courtesy of Hui Wilcox

Students can enroll for St. Kate’s Critical Hmong Studies minor beginning fall 2012. Photo courtesy of Hui Wilcox.

Dreams do come true. The new Critical Hmong Studies minor at St. Catherine University has been in the works since the Department of Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity (CRST) offered a senior seminar on the topic several years ago.

“This really is a collective dream come true for us,” says Assistant Professor Hui Wilcox, “thanks to Pa Der’s leadership — and this is only her first year as a faculty member at St. Kate’s — and thanks the grant from St. Kate’s Internationalization Council.”

Assistant Professor Pa Der Vang was the lead writer on the proposal for the Critical Hmong Studies minor. Recently, she and CRST colleague Hui Wilcox presented the new program at a gathering in the Abigail Quigley McCarthy Center for Women.

Also in attendance was Nancy Heitzeg, department chair, who reported that the minor — to be offered in fall 2012 — was a “good anniversary celebration” for the soon to be decade-old CRST department.

“This minor can be an incredible supplement to any major, and to the liberal arts and health sciences,” says Heitzeg. “Certainly, we are very unique in this respect. Our Critical Hmong Studies minor is the only one in the ACTC [Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities].”

Students who enroll in the minor must complete three required courses and three electives, for a total of 24 credits:

  • “Critical Hmong Studies” will be offered for the first time this fall. The course will engage students in a critical analysis of the changing nature of Hmong culture and Hmong identity worldwide.
  • “Asian American Identities” will be offered for the first time in spring 2013. This course will engage students in a critical analysis of the multiple, fluid and intersecting identities of members of the Asian diaspora — beginning with Asian immigration to the United States in the 1800s through the existence of multi-generational families in the present day.
  • “Foundations of Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity” provides an overview of the key concepts and issues in the interdisciplinary study of race and ethnicity.
  • Elective courses include “Intermediate Hmong,” “Sociology of Immigration,” “Literature of the American Immigrant Experience” and study abroad, among others.

“St. Kate’s Critical Hmong Studies minor is for everyone, including Hmong students who want to learn more about their culture and students who will work with the Hmong community,” explains Vang.

The Twin Cities has the highest urban concentration of Hmong in the world — with nearly 70,000 first-, second- and third-generation Hmong who have varying perspectives on their culture, she says.

“So, students will work with Hmong consumers in some capacity,” she adds. “They will have them as patients and clients. With this new minor, our students will become better service providers.”

By Pauline Oo