- Related Events
- Calls for Proposals
- Seminars & Pedagogical Lunches
- Teaching Resources
- Research Resources
CLA has made diversification and internationalization top priorities. Diversification and internationalization will be achieved through interdisciplinary collaborations of faculty, students and community. Global REM is designed to strengthen an existing cluster of interdisciplinary research centers, departments, programs and faculty that have made substantial contributions to the diversification of research and teaching. U.S.-focused in its earlier iterations, this cluster is now poised to undertake a new initiative by internationalizing its focus.
CLA has long nurtured scholarly expertise and teaching excellence on race, ethnicity, and migration (REM). The U of M was the birthplace of immigration history in the 1920s, and it was an early innovator in interdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate education through its American Studies Program. The Immigrant Archives and Center for Immigration Studies (later joined as the Immigration History Research Center, IHRC) again put Minnesota on the scholarly map in the 1970s.
A formal REM initiative resulted from funding from the Graduate School between 1999 and 2001. REM distinguished itself by linking the study of ethnic “whiteness” and racialized minorities. A REM-inspired cluster of Americanist faculty has sustained itself through institutional linkages among CLA centers, departments, and programs (African and African-American Studies, American Studies, American Indian Studies, Asian-American Studies Chicano Studies, GWSS, IHRC, etc.) As a result of recent hires, conversations in the Institute for Advanced Study around the Politics of Population symposium and collaborative, and the institutionalization of programs in the Institute for Global Studies, REM is now positioned to become an equally innovative initiative we will call “Global REM.”
Within CLA, REM specialists are fairly evenly divided between humanities and social sciences, with research contributions also being made by colleagues from the arts and (beyond CLA) from Public Health, Law, HHH, College of Education and Human Development, Family Social Science, and the Medical School.
In REM, as in the liberal arts, generally, critical thinking is increasingly taught through the introduction of students to a wide range of disciplinary perspectives and methodologies. Current faculty are already training graduate and undergraduate students to analyze REM through ethnographic, historical, quantitative, and textual/discursive methodologies. Few scholarly themes currently support such broad interdisciplinarity as REM. In the classroom and in research, REM bridges humanities and the social sciences.
Both recent hires in CLA and new initiatives within IGS provide the foundation for internationalizing research, teaching and community outreach on REM. Almost a third of CLA REM faculty study the world beyond the U.S. The director at the IHRC brings global and comparative perspectives to an interdisciplinary center that in the past focused exclusively on the U.S. At the Minnesota Population Center (MPC), IPUMS census sampling has been internationalized, creating the foundation for international and collaborative demographic studies of human movement. New American Studies faculty are promoting interdisciplinary “post-national” studies of America in the world. IGS has made transnational movements and migrations central themes of its recently funded Asian, European and International Title VI centers. Thus, significant resources are already in place for internationalizing REM
As the study of REM becomes internationalized, the meaning and analytical relation of its basic intellectual components—race and ethnicity (along with other forms of cultural diversity), and migration—are called into question. Within Ethnic Studies, lively debates between those favoring national and international approaches could provide the basis for a dialogue between scholars focusing on REM in the American context and current University specialists on REM in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia.
Globalization and the increasing facility of population flows pushes scholarship in this direction. The study of human movement no longer focuses exclusively on immigrants in single countries; studies of refugees, guest workers, internal migrants, trafficking, adopted children, exiles, tourists, and diasporas are increasingly undertaken transnationally, globally or comparatively, challenging the methodological nationalism of many individual disciplines and the knowledge generated through the study of individual nations, notably the United States. We now know that understandings and relations of race and ethnicity as we know them in the U.S. are not the ones found in other times and places. Understanding political violence, genocide, and nation-building strategies of incorporation and exclusion need to be tackled cross-culturally, as should the ways in which religion, language and history can themselves be racialized in moments of political conflict. The relationship of mobile and indigenous minorities in world history could also easily draw on Minnesota’s particular strength in both immigration and American Indian studies.
Such intellectual challenges have been featured through symposiums featuring the work of recently hired colleagues and introducing them to each other and to the wider network of REM scholars on campus. The inaugural activity has been followed by regular seminars for Global REM faculty, organized with existing resources at IGS and the IHRC.
Given the University’s new initiatives to support international scholarship (housed in the Office of International Programs), Global REM faculty are in a good position to propose international and interdisciplinary research collaboratives on one or more of these themes. The IHRC and the IGS might easily partner with German, French, Dutch, Brazilian, and Australian research centers that, like the IHRC, manage archival collections or museums that interpret REM for broader publics.
Global REM faculty will play a special role in the education of new, increasingly diverse undergraduate and graduate students. An interdisciplinary research seminar on Global REM in 2007-2008 provided a foundation for curricular planning by assisting disciplinary specialists to sort out what each discipline contributes to the interdisciplinary study of REM.
IGS and IHRC must assist CLA faculty (who are currently creating new classes on REM across the disciplines) so the resulting curriculum is greater than the sum of its disciplinary parts. Cooperation and coordination are essential so that the many departments offering courses on REM do not compete for the same students. Cooperation and coordination are essential if students seeking courses on REM are to understand how a geography course on REM complements rather than substitutes for a REM course in the English department.
With coordination and cooperation, CLA has the opportunity to undertake truly innovative undergraduate and graduate education. Several of the U’s aspirational peers have longstanding programs in U.S.-centered Ethnic Studies. None supports a program in Global REM. The model for an REM program might be the interdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate programs offered in American Studies or the graduate minor in human rights offered by IGS. While most plausible as a graduate program, an interdisciplinary major or minor in Global REM should not be dismissed without careful thought.
Given successful experiments with video-enhanced teaching (e.g. in CGES), interdisciplinary graduate or undergraduate seminars or internships offered within an international institutional partnership (of IHRC with comparable centers nation- or worldwide) could easily be planned. Team teaching, interdisciplinary freshmen or senior seminars, thematic clusters within disciplinary majors, or even the relocation of interdisciplinary graduate seminars from departments to research centers are all options. Interdisciplinary summer institutes for graduate students are another possibility and many models (both at the University of Minnesota—see TIRES and CGES programs—or elsewhere—see the SSRC collaboration with UC universities between 2003 and 2006) exist.
Global REM faculty will provide the cultural expertise needed by the U to work effectively with increasingly diverse communities in the Twin Cities and beyond.
Public school teachers are a logical audience for public engagement by Global REM. Every student in Minnesota takes a world history class to fulfill graduate requirements. REM is an increasingly important theme in global studies and world history courses but relatively few high school teachers have had undergraduate preparation to teach these themes. The federal government has promoted dozens of very successful faculty/public school teacher collaborations through its “Teaching American History” (TAH) grants program. CLA should consider seeking funding for a comparable program for Minnesota public school teachers. A possible model is the summer 2006 summer institute on international ethnic studies offered by IGS and AAAS and TAH workshops sponsored by the IHRC.
The history of the IHRC suggests another form of public engagement that uses the building of archives and the mounting of exhibits as collaborations of faculty and immigrant and ethnic communities. The Friends of the IHRC plan community programs related to immigration and undertake fundraising.
Finally, in a mobile world of recurring ethnic and racial strife, IGS centers and the IHRC are well positioned to function as important resources to print and non-print media seeking information about Global REM. The IHRC has experimented with using its website to undertake this type of outreach. An effective collaboration of CLA External Relations, OIT, and Global REM participants would advance the U’s reputation as the “first place to turn” for informed opinion about the emotionally-charged topics of REM in the U.S. and in the wider world.