Susan H. Kamei is Managing Director of the Spatial Sciences Institute housed in the University of Southern California Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences (USC Dornsife). She directs the Institute’s strategic initiatives and its daily administration, including external relations and the development and operations of the Institute’s undergraduate and graduate academic programs.
Her expertise is in the creation, development and operations of innovative educational business models. At USC she has been a leader in expanding its graduate online programs, establishing protocols for academic assessment, and enriching the student experience. She has worked extensively with undergraduate and graduate degree programs and programs in professional education, life-long learning and multi-disciplinary learning. She has presented at and participated in conferences such as the American Association of Geographers annual meeting, the URISA GIS-Pro Conference and the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation GEOINT Symposium.
Prior to joining the Spatial Sciences Institute, she served in a number of senior academic administration roles, including as an associate dean for the USC Dornsife. She started her career as a practicing attorney.
Kamei is recognized today as one of our country’s most prominent and visible scholars on the Japanese American incarceration during World War II. Her book When Can I Go Back to America: Voices of Japanese American Incarceration During World War II (Simon & Schuster 2021) has received critical acclaim for its riveting, meticulously researched and comprehensive historical narrative of this tragic episode in our nation’s history. For her work’s influence on the study of political, social and Asian American history, she received a 2022 USC Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition award.
She has appeared in broadcasts by media outlets such as BBC, NPR, C-SPAN, France 24, PBS and NBC, and her op-ed pieces and other articles have been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Conversation, and Discover Nikkei.
As Adjunct Professor (Teaching) in the USC Dornsife Van Hunnick History Department, she teaches a course that she created on the constitutional relevance of the Japanese American wartime incarceration to today’s considerations of national security and civil liberties. Read the February 19, 2018 Los Angeles Times article on her course HIST 460: War, Race and the Constitution and about her personal connection with this topic. In recognition of her service to the USC community, Kamei has received a 2023 USC University Club Faculty Award and the 2018 USC Undergraduate Student Government Community Achievement Award.
She also is an affiliated faculty member of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Cultures.
J.D., Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
B.A., University of California, Irvine, Linguistics and Russian, summa cum laude