Instructor: Carl Mason

Semester: Fall 2017

Official Course Page: is external)

Humans are a migratory species like no other.  As hunter-gatherers, humans migrated from East Africa to every currently inhabited place on earth--except for a few Pacific Islands and that research station in Antarctica. During modern times humans continue to migrate in astounding numbers from poor countries to rich countries; from rural to urban areas; as refugees and as laborers both with and without the consent of receiving countries. This course will cover the small but important part of the rich history human migration that deals with the population of the United States--focusing on the period between 1950 and the present. We will use the tools of DS8 to answer specific questions that relate to the themes of this course:

  • Why do people migrate?
  • Is immigration good or bad for receiving (and sending) countries?
  • How do immigrants adapt and how do societies change in response?

In addition to scientific questions about immigration, this course will also address the demographic and political history of immigration in the US.  Since its founding, conflict over immigration policies has periodically risen to the top of the American political agenda often masking or exacerbating other sources of conflict.  Understanding past immigration policies thus provide a lens through which we can view both the broad contours of US history and the particular situation in which we find ourselves today.