2014-2015 Public Policy Courses
The Politics of Immigration and Race in the United States
Immigration has been a recurring and polarizing political issue in the United States and globally. And yet, in the contemporary political climate, immigration policy is debated as if it were ahistorical and fixed. In this yearlong course, students will explore immigration, immigrant integration, and societal inequality. We will answer questions such as: How has immigration policy changed over time? And how are immigrants integrating into society? We will delve into theoretical debates over why people migrate, the role of states in managing migration flows, the “actors” that have shaped immigration policy, and how today’s immigrants compare to earlier waves of immigrants. More specifically, this course will trace the history of immigration policy and of immigration flows into the United States, as well as the distinct trajectories of groups and cohorts along a series of societal indicators. With this foundation, students will be asked to contribute to ongoing debates by reflecting on where we are and what we can we do to create a better system and a more equitable society.
The Art of Protest Politics
Protest is a major form of claim making for groups that find their voices shut out of traditional institutional spaces. People take to the streets to challenge policies and systemic violence, they collectively resist in their workplaces, and they confront and assert their place in distinct organizational spheres of society. They create alternative social and political spaces in their efforts to effect change by reforming or dismantling dominant societal institutions. In this course, we will bridge the academic literature on social movements and protest with cases studies of different movements in the United States and transnationally. We will imagine and re-imagine what a just society looks like and how protest can help to create that society—but also where it fails. Why do people protest? What gains can be made via protest? How is protest policed, co-opted, or contained as politics as usual? Is there a liberatory potential in protest?
The Politics of “Illegality,” Surveillance, and Protest
Over the past few years, newspapers, television, Facebook and Twitter have disseminated images of unauthorized immigrants and their allies taking to the streets to protest punitive immigration policies. The aerial shot of downtown Los Angeles on March 25, 2006, with more than 500,000 immigrants and allies wearing white T-shirts, was only one in a series of images that captured the 2006-2007 demonstrations in big cities where they were expected, such as in Chicago and New York, but also in smaller towns and cities in Nebraska, Colorado, and Indiana. More recently, images of unauthorized youth facing off with police and immigration officials have become more commonplace, with young people being taken away in handcuffs or a recent striking image of a young woman in Los Angeles sitting atop a ladder surrounded by police and awaiting her fate. These images speak to us of a movement for immigrant rights that has called us to engage with questions of membership, policing, and immigration and race. In this course, we will explore the historical construction and evolution of “illegality”; we will assess contemporary policy debates and the roles of key elite and grassroots actors in immigration politics. Students will use the theoretical tools provided by studies of immigration policy development, social movements, and the politics of membership and belonging to assess immigration politics over time and to offer ways forward in the contemporary moment.