Breaking Boundaries: Immigration and Education

At a Glance

  • Prof. Mitra Shavarini & Prof. Kristen Lucken
  • Summer 2014, 8 weeks, June 2 - July 25, 2014
  • 12 credits
  • Refer to "Quick Links" in the right sidebar for more information

How do vulnerable immigrant young adults transcend or break the boundaries they experience in American society?

Can educational programs provide them with added resiliency and make a difference to their long-term success?

In this  JBS course, “Breaking Boundaries,” professors Shavarini and Lucken focus on under-resourced immigrant youth. By examining the lives of young adults who have gained access to educational programs that enhance their human capital, this program seeks to understand how these programs help these individuals transcend socio-economic boundaries. This program provides students with the training and supervision necessary for independent field research in the Boston area on a project that involves education, immigrants, and transitions between boundaries.

This program is divided into two distinct parts. In the first four-week session, students will take two courses. One will introduce students to key theories and literature on education and immigration; and the other will teach them about social science research methods, with a specific focus on the use of Portraiture. In the second four-week session, students will head out into the field to conduct their own research related to the real and perceived boundaries immigrants face and overcome with the help of supplementary educational programs. Students will learn how to design an interview schedule, conduct semi-structured, one-on-one interviews, and experience participant observation in the field.

As a segment of their participant observation, students will volunteer their time in support of participating institutions by engaging in ESL training, assisting young adults with college preparation, serving as a mentor, or providing other means of assistance at some of the numerous enrichment programs in the Boston area such as Year Up, the Charles River Internet Center, or the Waltham Family School.

The goals of this JBS program are fourfold: to provide students with an in-depth overview of literature related to education and immigration; to train students in ethnographic research methods; to involve students in hands-on engagement in the field; and to share student research findings with the Brandeis community.  The program is open to students in a variety of different disciplines, but may be of particular interest to students studying is aimed at students studying Sociology, Education, International and Global Studies, and other social science majors.

SOC 145bj: Applied Research Methods in Portraiture
SOC 108bj: Immigration, Youth, and Education 
SOC 97aj: Group Readings and Research