The United States has been the top destination for international migrants since 1960, and is home to one-fifth of the world’s international migrants. Despite its long history of immigration, the United States has oscillated between perceiving immigration as a valuable resource and as a major challenge. This course is intended to introduce students to the concepts, major trends, and critical issues associated with this reality from religious perspectives. Students will explore the historical context to current debates over immigration reform, integration, and citizenship, analyzing century-long conversations about the interplay between religion, who is allowed into the country, and what it means to be an American. The course provides a chronological overview of US immigration history, but also includes thematic weeks that cover salient issues such as border policing, deportation policy, xenophobia, religious pluralism, and transnationalism. Students will be expected to revisit current media interpretations of the place of immigration in U.S. society and study immigration from interfaith and sociological points of view, evaluating their own experiences with immigration and immigrants. Although primarily conducted online, this hybrid course includes a 2-day experiential learning trip to New York, with visits to sites such as immigration court, a detention facility, Ellis Island, and other relevant sites. This course will help religious leaders and activists in their advocacy, public discussions, and religious framing about immigration in the United States historically and today.
If you are not enrolled in a degree program but wish to register for this course, use the Online Registration for Special Students and Auditors.