Faculty Travel Immersion Seminars

Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture
Faculty Travel Immersion Seminar
New York City-San Francisco-San Diego
January 8-15, 2020

The Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture announces its 2020 Faculty Travel Immersion Seminar.  Each year the CCTC takes a small group of inter-disciplinary USD Faculty to a place connected in a broad sense with the Catholic intellectual and/or cultural and social traditions.  This year the Travel Seminar will take place in New York City, San Francisco, and San Diego. The trip will take place on January 8 - January 15, with travel days of January 7 and 16th.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door.

The current “national emergency” has enflamed the ongoing debate on immigration. For all the sound and fury, the debate has paid scant attention to the historical roots of immigration to the United States. What does it mean that the United States is “A Nation of Immigrants?” What role has the Catholic Church played? The great historian Oscar Handlin once stated famously, “I set out to study the role of the immigrant in American history and found the immigrant was American history.” The same may be said of the Catholic Church in the United States—the immigrant was and is U.S. Catholic history. The Church in the United States was, and continues to be, an immigrant church.

The 2020 Faculty Travel Immersion Seminar will explore the current crisis by grounding the discussion in the historical record. We will begin in New York City and examine the massive influx of European immigrants in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Despite the welcoming words at the base of the Statue of Liberty, immigrants were often met with hostility. A large percentage of the immigrants were Catholic. How did the Church respond? How did the Church fashion a place for itself and its people? How did it influence the national response? We will visit Ellis Island, the Center for Migration Studies, immigrant neighborhoods and churches. We will then travel to San Francisco to look particularly at Asian immigration. The hostile reception of Chinese immigrants in the late nineteenth century resulted in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Though only a small number of Asian immigrants were Catholic, the Church did respond. More recent immigrants from Asia have included large numbers of Catholics, particularly from the Philippines and Vietnam. We will visit Angel Island, Chinatown, ethnic neighborhoods and churches. The trip will end in San Diego and review the Latino immigrant experience, the oldest and newest immigrants. The earliest Latinos in the present day United States were not immigrants; as the saying goes, “We did not cross the border, the border crossed us.” All three groups have made rich and important contributions to the building of the United States and the US Catholic Church.

Immigration is not a new issue or concern; it has been an ongoing reality in the United States since the nation’s inception. The United States’ response to immigration might best be described as “ambivalent”—it fluctuates between welcoming the immigrant and violent and racist nativism. The Catholic Church, in its experience and teaching, has much to inform the discussion. This seminar will explore the Church’s insights and experience on immigration.

The seminar is facilitated by experts in the field and involves a pre-seminar program of preparatory academic readings. Each Faculty member selected to participate produces an academic paper upon return, which is presented, on campus in a series of follow-up presentations and additional collegial gatherings and discussions take place to continue the dialogue and strong links formed by the group during their trip.

For more information, please email us at cctc@sandiego.edu, or call us at (619) 260-7936. 

Past Seminars

Begin quote The experience of sharing the [Faculty Travel Immersion Seminar] with my USD colleagues was a highlight. This trip created fellowship amongst a very diverse group of individuals and I will always be grateful for that. – Evelyn Diaz Cruz, participant in the 2010 travel seminar