Purpose: to help other instructors teaching the same course

Common Course ID: Migration (SOC 321)
CSU Instructor Open Textbook Adoption Portrait

About the Course

Course Title and Number
Brief Description of course highlights:  

Migration is a long-standing human behavior. Despite its ancient roots, migration’s societal impacts feel fresh and pressing, eliciting emotional responses and vitriolic debate. We will critically examine migration and its impacts. Why do people migrate? Once migrants arrive at their destinations, how do they assimilate or integrate into their receiving communities, and how does this process shape attitudes toward and experiences of migrants? Who are the “winners” and “losers” of migration, and according to which measures? But just as importantly… is it problematic to conceptualize migration’s outcomes in those ways at all? 

We will draw from broad historical and contemporary examples of migration (e.g. domestic, international, forced, and climate-driven). Content will be grounded in the social and economic theories governing migration behaviors, drawing comparisons between current and historical migration trends. 

Prerequisites: Junior standing and completion of a lower-level GE Area D course

Student population:

This is an elective course that fulfills both GE and USCP (United States Cultural Pluralism) requirements. Students come from all majors. 
Learning or student outcomes: 

By the end of this course, students will be able to: 

  • explain the drivers of migration. 
  • describe how contemporary migration patterns fit into the context of historical migration. 
  • identify migration’s winners and losers. 
  • explain assimilation/integration and its role in shaping attitudes toward and experiences of migrants. 
  • compare diverse perspectives within the politicized migration debates. 
  • detail the shifting attitudes toward immigrants over time in the US and relate these shifts to the trajectory of immigration policy. 

About the Resource/Textbook 

Student access:  

  1. This is a new course, so it was always designed to use OER materials. 
  2. Students access the materials through links to the books and articles on the Canvas website.

I made a concerted effort to select books and articles written by scholars from underrepresented and historically marginalized groups. If I had worked with an existing textbook, it would have obviously been much more challenging to hand-select the scholarly voices and perspectives in this way.

Supplemental resources: List resources including online homework systems, interactive study guides for students, and faculty-only resources such as solutions and slides that are available.

Cost Savings:

Student savings was around $3000 last summer (60 students times the cost of a $50 textbook).

OER/Low Cost Adoption

OER/Low Cost Adoption Process

Provide an explanation or what motivated you to use this textbook or OER/Low Cost option. 

My main motivations to adopt OER were to save students money and to give me control over teaching exactly the content I wanted to present. I was not aware of a single textbook that would cover the subject from the interdisciplinary perspective that I was aiming for (combining demography, sociology, economics, etc.), including a combination of domestic and international migration case studies, so there was no good reason to assign one.

How did you find and select the open textbook for this course? 

Rather than finding an OER textbook, I identified academic books and articles that had been published by the top scholars in the field. All the articles and nearly all the books were already available at no-cost to our students through the university library. For the handful of academic books that were not yet available for free, I requested that our library acquire unlimited electronic access to the books, and they did. 

The whole process was very easy, and I am appreciative that our librarians were able to buy access to the books that we didn’t already have access to. Sometimes, acquiring access can take a few weeks/months, so it is important to start the process early. 

Teaching and Learning Impact

I don’t have any “before OER” period to compare impact to, since this course was new last year. 

Student Feedback or Participation

The vast majority of students very clearly did all the readings, as evidenced by their detailed reading responses in the Canvas forum.

Sharing Best Practices: 

Early on in the process of searching for OER books, I noticed that numerous books published by the UC Press and MIT Press were already freely available to the campus community to download as eBooks. I took this as a jumping off point, exploring the UC Press and MIT Press websites to get inspiration about other books that I might want to include in the syllabus. However, as I continued to encounter book chapters I wanted to assign that were from other academic presses (e.g. NYU Press), I found that my campus librarians were typically very receptive to my requests to acquire licenses to those books as well.

About the Instructor

Dr. Sara Lopus

Cal Poly SLO