A Short History
The Global Migrations Program at Hampshire College is a college-wide initiative to rethink old cold war paradigms of knowledge and citizenship in light of the unprecedented movements of persons across national and cultural borders that characterize our globalizing world. The program seeks to develop new curricular initiatives that are responsive to these transnational/ multicultural movements and the local conflicts over identity, belonging, and citizenship to which they give rise. The program encourages collaborative efforts between faculty and students to bridge divides across old geographies and disciplinary boundaries, between local community issues and complex global processes, and between the university and the wider communities of which it is a part. The goal of the program is to develop a transnational, community-based model of teaching and learning that engenders not only global literacy, but a sense of cosmopolitan citizenship.
The idea of developing a curriculum around the theme of "global migrations" was born out of a faculty retreat in the School of Social Science in the Spring of 2000. In keeping with Hampshire's progressive approach to education, the School of Social Science, now known as the School of Critical Social Inquiry, is organized around social issues rather than departments and has an interdisciplinary faculty who, in previous years, have taught around such curricular themes as "Third World Studies" and "Feminist Studies." Yet the complex and often contradictory realities of living in a globalizing world demand of us a new kind of interdisciplinarity—one that takes into account the increasing and varied mobilities of persons across time and place, the formation of new geographies and communities, and the rise of new forms of political identity and claims to citizenship. While these are issues that many of our faculty already grapple with in their own teaching, research, and community work, "global migrations" offers us a shared framework for recognizing and building on the existing strengths of our school. This emphasis on global migrations, rather than static notions of culture or nation, also enables us to build curricular linkages between the social and natural sciences, as well as with the humanities and arts.
With the generous funding of the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation, the Global Migrations Program was initiated in January of 2002. Our first year was devoted primarily to refining the focus of our program around an emerging conception of "citizenship" that has become central to the definition and goals of our program. Through our speaker and seminar series, curriculum retreats, development of new courses, and support of student internships and projects, the Global Migrations Program has in its first year brought together faculty and students from across the college in conversation about the meaning of citizenship in a globalizing world. Out of these conversations has emerged a critical conception of "citizenship" that challenges the notion of the nation-state as the primary source of both identity and rights, and calls for a more cosmopolitan way of thinking about self, community, and the ethics of global living.