Understanding Immigration Through Multiple Academic Lenses

“Teach-in” offers context beyond national partisan debate
February 21st, 2017 by 

Professor Ed O'Donnell discussing the history of American immigration
Edward O'Donnell, associate professor of history, discusses the history of American immigration at "teach-in." Photo by: Elizabeth Gorrill '18

Whose America is it? How does one become American? What does it mean to be a full citizen? And what are our responsibilities to one another as individuals living side by side?

These were just some of the questions tackled by 13 Holy Cross faculty members who participated in Friday’s “immigration teach-in,” an event that sought to bring the national conversation around immigration to campus. Presenters offered six-minute deep dives from their respective disciplines in rapid-succession, challenging the students, faculty, and staff that filled Rehm Library to consider the historical, political, economic, sociological, and ethical questions and contexts surrounding the issue.

From understanding the psychological challenges of undocumented immigrants to exploring literary and pop culture representations of immigrants in America, faculty presented the immigration debate as not simply a political issue, but one that can be understood through multiple academic lenses, says Amit Taneja, the associate dean for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.

“The immigration debate is complex, and there are no easy solutions,” he explains. “Given tonight’s context, we hope participants might be able to consider the issues in a much more in-depth manner that goes beyond the partisan debates currently happening on the national stage.”

The high-energy presentations were interspersed with three Q&A sessions which turned conversational, with students and staff directly feeding off one another to probe deeper into the ideas at hand.

For Olufunmilola Anifowoshe ’17, whose personal interests lie in human rights issues and the politics around immigration policy, the teach-in offered the context to better understand the policies emerging from the country’s new administration.

“I think my main takeaway was that our country’s politics are flawed and will always remain so, but we can learn from our historical and political mistakes should we choose to do so,” Anifowoshe says.

The teach-in was sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and is a part of the College’s continued effort to engage the campus community in dialogue around the complexity of the issues faced by society and the world.

Explore upcoming diversity and inclusion events here.

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