Border Issues: Mexico-U.S. Border Immersion

Social Concerns Seminar
SOC 33458
CSC 33458
CST 33458
ILS 33701

Spanning the fall and spring semester, this experiential-learning, Catholicism-Across-the-Disciplines-designation seminar about immigration issues—especially those related to the México-U.S. border—has three distinct parts. In the fall (two credits), we will meet in class to read and discuss social scientific research about such topics as why migrants leave their home countries, what they encounter and experience when attempting to cross the border, the responses of U.S.-based citizen groups to unauthorized border crossings, and the effectiveness of current U.S. enforcement policies. We also normatively evaluate these responses and policies, particularly from a Catholic perspective (but also from other faith, non-religious perspectives).

In early January, we will travel to the Southern Arizona borderlands for our week-long immersion trip. During this trip, we will, among other things, observe Operation Streamline legal proceedings, attend a humanitarian aid training, tour a Border Patrol facility, visit the border wall and learn about its environmental impact, hear from Catholic and other faith leaders about their social justice work along the border, visit Arivaca and Nogales to experience everyday life in a border community, and participate in a Samaritans’ humanitarian desert trip.

After our trip, we will again meet in class for the spring semester (two credits) to process, reflect on, and expand our immersion experience, including discussing what a uniquely Catholic border policy would look like, strategies to raise awareness about what is going in Southern Arizona, and migration issues and responses to them in other parts of the world.

To be eligible, students must complete an application (See Application Process below). Enrollment is competitive. The 18 available spots will be chosen based on the application responses. Students will be notified about their status within a week of submitting the application. This is a graded course. Department approval is required. For further information on the seminar, please go to the course description in Class Search.

Immersion Location: 

Southern Arizona Borderlands

Immersion Dates: 

January 2–9, 2021

Things to Note:

  • The dates, times, and location of the spring post-immersion meetings will be announced at the end of the fall semester.
  • As part of participation in a seminar, we seek to live intentionally and simply during the immersion, please be flexible. We ask that you take the opportunity to invest fully and embrace the change of pace and amenities.
  • You will receive more specific details about your experience during preparation classes.
  • Most meals will be prepared by your team or in conjunction with your hosts on site.
  • Student leaders and your seminar director will be your liaison with community partner contacts.
  • Lodging is provided. You will be responsible for your own bedding. Please plan ahead as many sites ask for students to bring sleeping bags.
  • You must participate in all class sessions and entire immersion in order to complete the requirements for the course. Immersion implies night stays. If you miss any class for any reason you will be responsible for making the class up. 
  • Fall 2020 class sessions will be held on Thursdays from 6:30–8:00 p.m.
  • This seminar fulfills the requirements of Catholicism Across the Disciplines (CAD) Elective, the Catholic Social Teaching (CSTE) Elective, and also the Poverty Studies Minor (PSIM) Elective.


Seminar Director
(574) 631-8517


Associated Term: 
Fall, Spring
$350 (plus airfare)
Students must provide their own transportation to and from Tucson, Arizona. All air travel must be confirmed with the seminar director by mid September. Partial travel scholarships are available. For further information on this please contact
Application Process: 
  • The fee covers food, housing, and supplies, and will be assessed through student accounts. If you are accepted into the seminar and decide not to participate after September 22, 2020, you will be charged the full seminar fee. Please inquire with the seminars staff about financial assistance by emailing Some partial travel financial assistance is available based on need. No financial assistance applications will be accepted after November 21, 2020.
  • The application will remain open until the 18 spots are filled.
  • By submitting the application, you confirm you are in good academic standing. 
  • With questions about your application, email
Associated Term: 
View All Events

Upcoming Events

June 2020

Engaged Learning Forum | Technology Open House
Thursday, June 4, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Engaged Learning Forum | Hosting Effective Webinars
Thursday, June 11, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Engaged Learning Forum | Creating and Sustaining Communities Online
Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

August 2020

Information Session | Fall 2020 Social Concerns Seminars
Wednesday, August 26, 2020 - 4:00pm