Living on the Frontera

What happens when the West becomes the East and the North becomes the South? What difference does it make which line is drawn to separate them?

Inside the Classroom

Students will examine how the phenomenon of globalization is unfolding on the border separating the U.S.A. and México. The unprecedented movement of people and goods is producing rapid and radical changes in:

  • Population
  • Citizenship, ethics and the rule of law
  • The interdependent economies of both nations
  • Crime and security on the border
  • Cultural Identity (i.e., the USA as a “Nation of Immigrants”)

We will take a ‘hands-on’ approach to our examination of the historical, political, geographical, economic, social and cultural implications of these and other border issues. Internationally, we plan to visit the border and cross into Mexico to see how these issues play out at ‘ground zero’. Nationally, we will examine the politics currently unfolding in Washington, D.C., as the Congress of the United States debates the Immigration Reform Bill –or refuses to do so. Locally, we will talk to immigrants and immigration experts in the Richmond community, and possibly witness a deportation hearing and/or visit a local detention facility for undocumented aliens.

(Note: In order for students majoring in LAIS to count the course for a major requirement, students will need to take the course with a CLAC in Spanish. Students should discuss this with Professor Peebles)

Outside the classroom

During the fall, students will connect what they are learning in class through a speakers from organizations such as: the City of Richmond’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (formerly Hispanic Liaison Office), the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and representatives of other political and cultural entities. This series will address topics such as:

  • The road to Richmond: How do immigrants get from there to here?
  • The economic and social impacts on both sending and receiving communities
  • Opportunities and challenges for new immigrants in work, education and daily life
  • Assimilation and Identity: what are the long-term impacts of immigration?

All these presentations will be followed by roundtable discussions with our students and will be connected to exams and/or other graded assignments.

The community will travel to the U.S.–Mexico border at San Diego / Tijuana to see first-hand the busiest land border crossing in the world. We will also visit with scholars, activists and experts, and travel to the remote desert of the Imperial Valley near the California / Arizona border—along the newly constructed wall that separates the USA from México.

Research and Capstone Project

In addition to the fall research project, during the spring semester students will combine their hands–on experience with their acquired knowledge and understanding of border cultures in a capstone project and a subsequent presentation to the University community.