History of LIBRE
Edgewood College has a long relationship with partners in Arizona working around immigration issues. After piloting a first-year course on immigration in 2011, one of the founding members of LIBRE organized a one-week study trip to Arizona, traveling with two other faculty members. All were from the School of Education. While in Arizona, they met with a number of organizations and groups engaged with issues of immigration in the borderlands from Phoenix to Nogales. These included author and attorney Ray Maldonado in Phoenix, the Sisters of St. Agnes in Bisbee; the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson (birthplace of the sanctuary movement); and the Jesuit-run Kino project in Nogales. That fall, two Arizonans (a lawyer and a professor of education) came to Edgewood for a one-week residency, doing a number of presentations on campus for classes (including for the first year immigration seminar) as well as public presentations and media appearances. Attending several of their presentations on campus was an Edgewood student who would end up being a key promoter of the LIBRE trip to Arizona in 2017. We have maintained close contact with many of our partners over the years, including incorporating their perspectives into our classes via Webex, etc. We are also committed to embedding into our teacher education curriculum a greater understanding of how immigration (both historic and contemporary) impacts our schools.
In January of 2017, the School of Education led the first LIBRE trip to Arizona conceived of as a week of community-engaged scholarship aimed at developing qualities of leadership, scholarship and service in the students. This trip emerged as a student initiative in the hours after the presidential election, and all participating students who participated were DACA recipients. We made some new contacts (including the DREAMers at Arizona State University), and were able to experience the borderlands in ways that were both urgent and personal. Students were able to see the realities of the borderlands and, as importantly, think about where their own immigrant experiences in the Midwest intersect with those realities. Upon our return, we were involved in several campus-wide discussions about immigration, including issues of documentation. Several of the students have been guest speakers in both undergraduate and graduate classes. One has graduated, yet continues to collaborate closely with us to provide ongoing faculty development on how Edgewood can best serve undocumented students.
This third phase continued the existing ties we have with Arizona, and deepens the research expectations for our students. In close collaboration with the undergraduate research program, we have planned a weeklong trip to Arizona during Edgewood’s spring break. Whereas the 2017 program focused on DACAmented students, the 2019 was open to all students. The goal of this trip was to document stories of immigration, using testimonio as a theoretical framework with an action research as our guiding methodology.
Students carried out qualitative research, as they learned firsthand about the ways immigration has impacted Arizona. The students also compared and contrasted the similarities and differences between Arizona and Wisconsin. This trip included the five major areas of study for the research component of the trip. These students went through the Institutional Review Board (IRB) training and discussed conducting research.