Undocumented, Illegal, Citizen: The Politics and Psychology of Belonging in the United States (Fall, 2017)
This course will focus on the recent history of citizenship challenges, as related to contemporary migration and higher education. The current movements of people fleeing violence and injustice worldwide have been met with some innovative policies, yet also with fences, detentions, travel bans, and other means. After reviewing such migration patterns and reactions, we focus, in particular, on the politics and psychology of what it means to belong in the U.S. today, officially and unofficially. Interestingly, much of this process has been mediated in public higher education, especially the community college. Course topics include history of 21st century migration, the Dream Act, DACA, DAPA, state policies, social movements, human rights treaties, and critical education programs as mechanisms of change. We also consider diverse perspectives on the issues, such as by generations of refugees, unaccompanied children, sanctuary movements, and relevant contexts, primarily higher education but also agricultural and domestic employment, child/family detention centers, and public media. As an offering in the “Futures Initiative,” the course design will be adaptable to students’ interests. Pending student goals, for example, we will focus on projects such as a) considering different ways of thinking about contemporary migration and citizenship; b) examining databases of narratives, survey responses, and conversations by students and faculty reflecting on the role of the community college for belonging in America; c) developing methods for examining discriminatory language and action; d) curating debates in blogs about migration and human rights; e) interacting with initiatives like “CUNY Citizenship Now!” and Dreamer clubs; f) developing a tool kit of analytic methods sensitive to social science and humanities inquiries. The course involves reading scholarly articles, policy documents, reporting on relevant innovations, writing reflection papers, and designing practice-based research projects.