COOL CLASSES: “Borders, Immigration, and Citizenship”

This political science survey course explores who should be a member of a political community, and whether states have a right to exclude immigrants.

Class name: “Borders, Immigration, and Citizenship”

Taught by: Associate Professor of Political Science Paulina Ochoa Espejo


Here’s what Espejo had to say about her class:

In this course we examine current trends in migration and citizenship, as well as ethical questions that attach to them: Who belongs to the community? Who should come in? What are good criteria to decide? We also ask those difficult questions that are often in the background when we discuss migration: Why do we need borders? Who should govern borders? Where should borders lie? We seek answers to these questions in philosophical and historical sources, and we also trace the origins of common perceptions about territorial rights, sovereignty, and the unity and boundaries of the nation state.

I decided to teach this class when I noticed that when it comes to borders, immigration and citizenship, discussion often sheds more heat than light. I wanted students to come to these questions with an open mind, and to find good reasons to defend their points of view. In this class we discover facts and ideas about borders and immigration that we wouldn’t find in the press. Students conduct a big independent research project to answer their own questions on the topic, and they have an in-class journal where they peer-review their writing. These exercises probe the views we already had and help us improve our arguments.


See what other courses the Political Science Department is offering this semester.

Photo by Paulina Ochoa Espejo of the border fence at Nogales.

Cool Classes is a series that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford experience.