Today, more than 200 million people—40 million in the U.S. alone—live outside the nations of their birth. International migration is the human face of globalization, and it has remade the demographic, social, economic, political and cultural landscapes of many societies around the world. The question of when, how, and on what terms new migrants and their descendents are being incorporated is a pressing issue in most of the nations of the developed world, and is a topic of continuing controversy. Nowhere is this more apparent that in the world’s ever more diverse “global cities.” This new diversity has reshaped the social, political and cultural life of these cities. It is often seen as a source of vibrancy and growth, but also as creating a host of new challenges to overcome. Just as immigrants cross international borders and live increasingly transnational lives, students and scholars who wish to understand these processes need to cross traditional disciplinary boundaries and draw insights from a variety of different traditions.
The concentration in “Migration and Global Cities” within the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program, is an attempt to do just that. It is our hope that by drawing on the work of social scientists and humanists from different disciplines and different methodological traditions we can provide students with the tools to understand a force that is changing our world today. We are particularly interested in fostering a comparative perspective, and asking how diverse world cities can learn from each other. How, for example, do approaches to immigration, citizenship and societal membership differ between cities with long experience of immigration (e.g., New York) and those for whom ethnic diversity is relatively new (e.g., Toronto)? How do notions of the “rights to the city” differ between cities of the global north and rapidly growing metropolises of the global south? How is religious and cultural diversity experienced and understood in different societies? How does life in diverse world cities affect the homelands of transnational populations? What do recent debates over “multi-culturalism” and “pluralism” in the US and Western Europe have to teach us, and how might these debates inform each other? The answers to these questions are inherently interdisciplinary. Indeed while most of the coursework in this concentration would be within the social sciences (broadly defined) it would also open opportunities to work within the humanities. Indeed, it is hoped that the concentration could be a site for dialogue between social scientific and humanistic approaches to these issues.
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