Border Studies | Earlham College Skip to Content

Border Studies

Follow us!

FB-f -Logo __blue _50     Twitter _logo _blue     Instagram -logo -50

Academics in Action

Chiapas Fall2017

The Border Studies Program explores salient topics of our days such as transnational migration, neoliberal globalization, the militarization of policing, and struggles for environmental justice, ethnic studies and indigenous rights. The southern Arizona borderlands are defined by intense contestation around a host of issues that are coming to define the 21st century. Students in the Border Studies Program are immersed in this learning environment through a structured and dynamic semester-long program that offers hands-on experience in contemporary justice struggles and an expansive curriculum that valorizes grassroots knowledge and challenges students to understand and articulate the context and implications of their own positionalities. The program consists of homestays, internships in grassroots and/or non-profit organizations and excursions as well as a rigorous academic curriculum.

Barrio Viejo

Based in Tucson, the Border Studies Program is situated in a complex and critical geographic bioregion, offering unique opportunities to social, cultural, ecological and political issues in a local, regional, and international context. Located in a dynamic multinational border region, Tucson’s history of cultural, environmental and social struggle has shaped the interventions of myriad individuals, organizations and communities working to protect the unique ecosystem, cultural identities and lives of peoples who inhabit the arid lands of Sonora, Arizona and beyond.

Full Size Render


Potential excursions take Border Studies students to a number of sites that include trips to the Sonoran-Arizona borderlands along both sides of the border as well as the interior of Mexico.  Past excursions have included Nogales, Sonora, Mexico; the O’odham Nation in Sonora; the Río Sonora Valley; El Paso and Ciudad Juárez; Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico; New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness; as well as sites in Arizona like Florence and Arivaca. The unique combination of coursework, field studies, and travel seminars create an outstanding opportunity for students to deepen their understanding of their own positionalities in relationship to space, a multitude of communities and their particular struggles for social justice. Excursions also allow for students to explore several academic themes such as migration, the global economy, environmental degradation, development, sustainability, transnational communities, international boundaries, and justice in a land marked by numerous inequalities. Please direct questions about international travel to Patty Lamson at

You can also read a chapter about the Border Studies Program that was published in a new book called Putting the Local in Global Education: Models for Transformative Learning through Domestic Off-Campus Programs.

Program Dates

Fall 2018: August 24 - December 10

Spring 2019: January 22 - May 6

How to Apply

The Border Studies Program is open to students from all academic backgrounds and majors in good standing at any college or university. All participants must be full-time undergraduate students. For Spanish language requirements, please visit the Language Learning webpage. 

Happenings on the Border

In spring 2018 BSP welcomes its largest class in many years, with 15 students from Earlham, Oberlin, Macalester, Lewis & Clark and Yale NUS.  The academic year 2017-2018 also inaugurated Dr. Mari Galup’s role as full-time instructor and community director of the Border Studies Program.  

To support recruitment efforts and campus life across Great Lakes College Association (GLCA) schools, BSP has sponsored a successful series of speaking tours with partner activists, organizers and speakers from the borderlands and beyond. In spring and fall 2017 speaking events took place at Earlham, Oberlin, Hope, Kenyon, Depauw, Albion, Kalamazoo, Wooster and University of Ohio Wesleyan.  Featured speakers included representatives from Mariposas Sin Fronteras, No More Deaths, Servicios Universitarios y Redes de Conocimiento de Oaxaca (SURCO), and journalist Todd Miller.  These events have provided powerful learning opportunities at host campuses, and outreach and fundraising for participating organizations.  Look for new BSP-sponsored speaking engagements in the fall of 2018 at Earlham, Oberlin, Kenyon, Depauw, Hope, Albion, Kalamazoo, Carleton, Macalester, Lewis & Clark, and Reed College!

The Border Studies Spanish program is also growing, with beginning, intermediate and advanced courses co-convened with Tucson community members on Monday and Tuesday evenings.  These co-convened courses provide a service to the Tucson community and advance BSP’s collective commitment to promoting language justice; and they provide powerful opportunities for BSP students to interact with and learn alongside a broad cross-section of the local Tucson community.

In January 2018, Director of Student Services Kate Morgan-Olsen and Academic Director Geoffrey Alan Boyce collaborated in the release of a new human rights report by the organization No More Deaths, which documents US Border Patrol practices that contribute to the crisis of death and disappearance in the Arizona borderlands.  You can read the report here at The Disappeared Report webpage.  Finally, check out these additional recent single and co-authored publications from Geoff Boyce

A Case for Dismantling the Border Patrol NACLA Report on the Americas, February 2018

Drawing the Line: Spatial Strategies of Community and Resistance in Post-SB1070 Arizona ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, March 2018

Appearing Out of Place: Automobility and the Everyday Policing of Threat and Suspicion on the US/Canada Frontier Political Geography, May 2018



Print Friendly and PDF