The US/Mexico borderland region presents a unique cultural and environmental setting in which to explore the intersections of human migration and global climate change, as well as the historical legacies of imperialism and settler colonialism. This fragile desert environment is on the front lines of the immigration debate in the US, and has been witness to successive waves of border enforcement, including the construction of the border wall. With rising temperatures and deepening drought threatening to parch this already arid landscape, communities in this region are seeking out new ways to live sustainably in their desert surroundings, often drawing on indigenous knowledge to do so. This course explores the connections between migration, climate, and culture in the Sonoran Desert along the US/Mexico border. Situated in this unique environment, students will witness the ecology and ecological impact of border enforcement, and learn how drought, climate change and agricultural failure are drivers of migration. Students will also get the chance to meet with and hear the stories of numerous stakeholders involved in the immigration and border enforcement debate, both in the border area as well as here in North Carolina. Specifically, students will get to meet, and in some cases work alongside, humanitarian groups, human rights advocates, sanctuary churches, government officials, tribal elders, Mexican-American community leaders, artists, scholars, and migrants themselves.


4 sh


GBL 1040

Course Types



  • Winter

Previous Course Number

GBL 204


Application and additional travel fee required.

Course Outcomes

  1. Describe the historical legacies of colonialism on the US/Mexico border region.

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