Migration and Borders

Frontage road at Mexican border

In 2015, according to the United Nations, there were 244 million people in the world living outside of their country of birth, including almost 20 million refugees. As human geographers, many of us are interested in understanding this movement of people across international borders. We focus on a variety of issues related to migration and mobility, including the political, economic, social, and environmental reasons why people migrate from one place to another, the consequences of migration on places of origin, the transnational networks that connect migrants to their communities, and the multifaceted experiences of migrants and their families as they settle in new places.


Ethnic Foodscapes

Pascale Joassart-Marcelli and Fernando Bosco conduct research on the importance of food in promoting economic opportunities, creating a sense of belonging, encouraging civic engagement, stimulating cultural encounters, and influencing health and wellbeing in immigrant communities in San Diego. City Heights, one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods of San Diego and a major refugee resettlement area, was one of their case study sites.

Unaccompanied Migrant Children

Kate Swanson has worked extensively with Central American and Mexican migrant children in the border region, both as a volunteer and as a researcher. She has worked with youth in migrant detention centers in the United States and in Mexico. Her work explores border policies, youth agency, rights, crime and violence.



Geographic analysis of environmental and social issues in the global south. How colonialism, development, and globalization have shaped equity and sustainability issues and access to resources, environmental health, migration, and poverty around the world. Field trips may be arranged.

Worldwide trends in urbanization. Case studies of selected cities from various culture areas with focus on international variations in city structure and urban problems.

Intensive study of a spatial aspect of human geography. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content.