UCLA, Sciences Po and the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences continue to forge ties
“There really is a pedagogical benefit to a conference like this, and most everyone was excited by that.”
Although Americans often think of the United States as a “quintessential immigrant country,” sociology professor Roger Waldinger, interim associate vice provost of the UCLA International Institute and head of UCLA’s Program on International Migration, says it’s important to recognize that the “phenomenon of migration” affects countries throughout the developed world in similar ways.
Common challenges facing migrants, regardless of their country of origin or their country of destination, include opposition to immigration and the migrant community’s response to that opposition; economic success and security; discrimination; interest in and barriers to political participation in one’s new country; and religion, he says.
The topic of migration and its impact on people and places was at the forefront of an international graduate student conference held at UCLA on March 2 and 3.
Organized by the UCLA Center for European and Eurasian Studies (CEES), the UCLA Program on International Migration, Sciences Po, France’s leading university for social sciences, and the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences, and co-sponsored by UCLA’s Canadian Studies Program, Centre Pluridisciplinaire and Department of Sociology, the conference hosted more than 40 participants from across the United States and Europe. A follow-up to a 2008 conference organized by CEES director and sociology professor Gail Kligman and then sociology professor Adrian Favell, the event explored a variety of topics, including urban and transnational inequalities, immigrant political integration, stratification and stigmatization, and diasporic citizenship.
The relationship between UCLA, Sciences Po and the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences is one that is developing in new and exciting directions, says Waldinger.
“We want to encourage research on a broad range of international topics,” said Waldinger. “We thought an effective way to do this would be to bring them together with students from elsewhere who share a similar interest in the substance of migration, ethnicity and equality and who are looking at it in different contexts and working on it in different ways.”
Kligman says an event like this is important because there are few opportunities for graduate students to be exposed to students and faculty from elsewhere and to engage with them in critical and robust discussions on topics of mutual interest. “There really is a pedagogical benefit to a conference like this, and most everyone was excited by that." In addition, it introduced UCLA and other American students to students and faculty from abroad who have similar interests and allowed them to witness a variety of approaches to research. “Hopefully, such exchanges broaden our students' methodological and analytic perspectives beyond the ‘local,'" says Kligman.
Waldinger and Kligman say that a conference among the three universities is already in the works for 2014 in Paris, and discussions regarding further solidification of their tri-institutional relationship are ongoing and positive. “I’m confident this conference was a good first step in that process,” says Waldinger. “There’s a lot of interest, a lot of smart people and a lot of things to learn.”