Course Meeting Times

Seminar: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session


Students must have applied and been accepted to the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality.

Course Description

This course uses social theories of gender to explore ethical, sociopolitical and theological perspectives on immigration policy, with a focus on the U.S. The course begins with an overview of global developments in the feminization of migration, ethical and policy dilemmas that are specific to this new era of migration, and an introduction to the perspectives that will be applied to these issues throughout the class.

The rest of the class is divided into two halves. The first half takes a closer look at the contemporary gender dynamics of U.S. immigration (also accounting for the intersecting effects of gender, race, sexuality, class and legacies of colonial/postcolonial power dynamics). This part of the course explores how gendered cultural constructs and structural processes have influenced the way that migrants, and especially migrant women, are incorporated into U.S. labor markets and the way that migrant workers and families are illegalized and constructed as targets for immigration enforcement.

The second half of the course focuses on ethical and theological perspectives on immigration policy. The framework for this part of the course is multilayered. It introduces students to the value orientations that have historically dominated the immigration policy debate (principally communitarian and cosmopolitan perspectives). It uses feminist social theory and feminist theology to re-frame the terms of this debate and to engage many of the issues (introduced in the first part of the class) that have been overlooked by more established perspectives. This part of the course also explores the sociopolitical and faith-based value systems of immigrant women, using them to further enrich our dialogue on immigration policy.

The Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality (GCWS)

The GCWS at MIT brings together scholars and teachers at nine degree-granting institutions in the Boston area who are devoted to interdiscplinary graduate teaching, research, and scholarship in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Learn more about the GCWS.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will develop a deeper understanding of the gendered dynamics shaping the contemporary workings of U.S immigration.
  2. Students will learn about the value orientations that have historically defined U.S. immigration policy and will learn how the moral-ethical concerns of these value orientations are transformed by feminist ethics and theology.
  3. Students will engage sociological, theological and feminist concepts, pertinent to the study of gender, immigrant-native born relations and immigration policy in a way that helps them to position their own moral-ethical standpoint (whether secular and/or theological) within a broader conversation.
  4. Students will explore the interwoven dynamics of gender, sexuality, race, class, religion and postcolonialism as it pertains to the contemporary dynamics of immigration.
  5. Students will produce research about immigrant communities and/or native born minority communities as it relates to the intersections of politics and policy, socioeconomic relations and/or faith communities from feminist perspectives. Their research will also contribute to an emerging dialogue about social justice, globalization and multiculturalism in a postcolonial U.S. context.

Required Books

 Benhabib, Seyla, and Judith Resnik. Migrations and Mobilities: Citizenship, Borders, and Gender. NYU Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780814776001.

 Choi Hee An. A Postcolonial Self: Korean Immigrant Theology and Church. Stony Brook: State University of New York Press, 2016. ISBN: 9781438457369.

Course Requirements

Activity points
Attendance and Participation 20
Individual Presentation/Blog Posts 30
Group Project 30
Research Paper 20
Total 100

Attendance and Participation


Students will receive 10 of the 20 points for this requirement for attendance. Students lose four points from their attendance score for every unexcused absence (see course policies on excused absences). Students may also lose up to two points per class for arriving late or leaving early. Points for tardiness or early departure may be waived if students give advanced notice. If a student accumulates three or more unexcused absences, they will earn a failing grade for the class. If a student accumulates three or more excused absences, they will not be automatically failed, but will have to meet with one or both instructors to determine whether they will be able to continue with the class. If it is not possible to work out a satisfactory agreement concerning minimal attendance and participation for the remainder of the course, the student will be required to withdraw from the course.


Students will receive 10 of the 20 points for this requirement for class participation. Optimal class participation includes making regular contributions to our small and large group discussions and making relevant and quality contributions. To meet this second criterion, it is essential that students read the required materials in a timely manner and demonstrate their familiarity with the readings in our class discussions. Students can expect to receive maximum points for class participation so long as they make a good faith effort to meet these requirements. However, students may lose up to three points each from their participation grade (for regularity and quality of participation) if they consistently fail to meet these standards throughout the course of the class.

Please see the Assignments section for more information about other course requirements.


Students will receive letter grades for this course. Grades will be assigned as follows, based on the total accumulated points received (100 point range) for al requirements. 

requirement Grade
Excellent in all respects A:   100–93
Good in all and excellent in most respects A-:  90–92
Good in all and excellent in a few respects B+: 87–89
Good in all respects B:   83–86
Minimally acceptable in all and good in most respects  B-:  80–82
Minimally acceptable in all and good in a few respects C+: 77–79
Minimally acceptable in all respects C:   73–76
Largely unacceptable C-:  70–72
Unacceptable D+: 67–69
Unacceptable  D:   63–66
Unacceptable D-:  60–62
Failed F:    0–59

Course Policies

Paper Formatting

  1. Entire document: Double-spaced, 12 point serif font (e.g., Times New Roman or Batang). Formatted for 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper in black ink, 1 inch margins on all sides of the page.
  2. On the first page: Your name, date, course title and title of the assignment, centered.
  3. References:
    • Use the footnote reference system according to The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition. ISBN: 9780321115836.
    • Include a full bibliographic reference list at the end of the paper.
    • For style models, see Kate Turabian's  A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. ISBN:9780226430577
    • For online help, see the Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide.


Students are expected to attend all classes in their entirety. Failure to attend class on a regular basis may result in an “F” for the course (see Attendance and Participation in “Requirements”). Students may receive an excused absence for medical emergencies (to care for themselves, a dependent, or close family member) or commitments connected to military service. Family events, commitments having to do with your regular work schedule, or attendance at special trainings and conferences do not count as excused absences. Please email the instructors in advance about both anticipated and unforeseen absences.

Policy on Late Assignments

All assignments must be submitted on or before the due dates, with exceptions only in extraordinary circumstances and with both instructors’ prior approval. For late written papers:

  1. Papers submitted late—up to 24 hours past the due date and time—will receive a ½ grade deduction.
  2. Papers submitted between 24 and 48 hours past the due date will receive a full grade deduction.
  3. No paper will be accepted beyond 48 hours past the due date and time without an extension granted by the instructors.


All written work in this course must be original to you. If you consult outside texts, please cite these sources in the proper format. This pertains to all external sources (books, journals, lectures, sermons, websites). Be aware that plagiarism also means  submitting the same work in more than one course without the consent of the instructors.