UCLA International Institute launches Center for the Study of International Migration
September 8, 2015. Syrian refugees walk the railway tracks in Hungary. (Photo: courtesy of Freedom House, via Flickr.)

UCLA International Institute launches Center for the Study of International Migration

The new center supersedes the Institute's Program on International Migration and is directed by UCLA Distinguished Professor of Sociology Roger Waldinger.

“In light of the migration crisis currently enveloping Europe, the creation of the Center could not be more timely. From both the global and local perspectives, UCLA is the perfect place to establish a leading center for migration studies." Cindy Fan, Vice Provost for international Studies and Global Engagement

By Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications

UCLA International Institute, September 23, 2015 — The UCLA International Institute has announced the creation of the Center for the Study of International Migration. The mandate of the new Center, which will build upon the work of the former Program on International Migration, is to foster research and instruction on international migration.

UCLA Distinguished Professor of Sociology Roger Waldinger, a well-known migration expert, will direct the Center. Waldinger has been at UCLA since 1991 and is the author of seven books, most recently, The Cross-Border Connection: Immigrants, Emigrants, and their Homelands (Harvard University Press, 2015). 

Like the process of migration itself, the Center for the Study of International Migration will seek to cut across boundaries — intellectual, disciplinary, institutional and geographic — to study the multidimensional phenomenon of migration in a world increasingly defined by the global movement of people.

Among the impressive array of over 20 UCLA scholars affiliated with the Center, Professor of Education Marjorie Faulstich Orellana will serve as its associate director. Orellana, who came to UCLA in 2003, is the author of Translating Childhoods: Immigrant Youth, Language and Culture (Rutgers University Press, 2009). Her new book, Immigrant Children in Transcultural Spaces: Language, Learning, and Love, will be published by Routledge in early 2016.

Continuing their active involvement with the Center’s work will be Rubén Hernández-León, associate professor of sociology and director, UCLA Center for Mexican Studies; and immigration and citizenship law expert Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor of Law at UCLA. Both scholars have made seminal contributions to the development of the Program on International Migration and now, the Center for the Study of International Migration.

Welcoming a new center to campus

“In light of the migration crisis currently enveloping Europe, the creation of the Center could not be more timely,” said Cindy Fan, vice provost for international studies and global engagement. “From both the global and local perspectives, UCLA is the perfect place to establish a leading center for migration studies. The new Center will serve as a supportive intellectual home for researchers on migration from across campus.”

Added Fan, “As an immigrant and migration scholar myself, I am excited about the Center’s research and educational vision. And as Vice Provost, I look forward to the Center’s contribution to UCLA’s global mission.”

“We are delighted to have such a distinguished scholar in Roger Waldinger lead the new Center — he has played a central role in bringing the concept of a center on migration to fruition,” said Chris Erickson, senior associate vice provost and director of the UCLA International Institute. “We especially look forward to seeing Professors Waldinger and Orrellana implement their plans to engage undergraduates in the full range of the Center’s activities.”

Those activities will include a biweekly interdisciplinary speaker series, as well as workshops and conferences that bring together scholars from diverse disciplines and community members working on migration matters “on the ground.” The Center’s first major conference, scheduled for February 25–26, 2016, is targeted to emerging immigration scholars, who will have the opportunity to present their latest research and hear the feedback of senior scholars in the field.

The Center will also serve as a point of connection for instruction at both graduate and undergraduate levels. Public events will enable students to reach out to mentors beyond their home departments, while furnishing occasions for small group or one-to-one conversations with prominent visiting scholars. And in an effort to build the next generation of migration scholars and practitioners, the Center will soon launch an undergraduate minor in migration studies.

Upcoming events

The Center’s inaugural lecture, “Migration Crises: At Home and Abroad,” will be held this Friday, September 25, from 12:00 to 1:30 pm in room 1447 of the UCLA School of Law. Cosponsored by the UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies, it will feature presentations by Aslı Bâli, professor of international law, UCLA School of Law, and incoming director, UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies; Ivan Berend, UCLA distinguished professor emeritus of history; and Hiroshi Motomura (see above).

Other upcoming events include “The New Immigration Federalism” (October 16), “Immigrant Spatial Desegregation Trends and Inequality along Ethnoracial Lines in France” (October 28), and a UCLA-Sciences Po (Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris) Graduate Student Workshop on Migration (October 30).


See articles on the Center published by La Presna and Univision.

Pictures of Roger Waldinger and Marjorie Faulstich Orellana provided by UCLA.

This article was originally published on Sep. 23, 2015, and updated on Sep. 28 and 30.