Margaret Peters, associate professor of political science, is hoping to bring fresh ideas to the UCLA International Institute’s Global Studies Program as its new chair. Peters’ research and teaching focuses on migration politics, and as a professor and scholar she has sought to redefine notions of work and migration using an international perspective. Now, she will use her experience teaching in the program and her connections with the cohort of global studies faculty to rethink what global studies means and ensure students get the most out of the program.
The interdisciplinary global studies program, which offers a major and a minor, focuses on globalization and the connections among people across the world that transcend geographic and political boundaries. Students learn how international markets work, how the nation-state and the international system interact and engage with nonstate actors and how the interaction between local and transnational cultures impacts societies worldwide.
Peters teaches two courses for the program: “Globalization: Markets and Resources” and a senior seminar on refugee politics, which takes a comparative look at refugee issues in the global south and global north.
For the past several years, Peters has been hard at work on two large-scale collaborative projects. The first considers the impact of emigration on authoritarian stability and democratic change in sending states; the second investigates the motivations of contemporary residents of and refugees from Syria, Venezuela and Central America with respect to their choices to stay or leave and, if they choose to leave, when and where to leave and when to return.
Peters recognizes that in her work and in the global studies field, there is a need for redefinitions of key terms.
“In the past,” Peters said, “people assumed migrants were emigrating here for jobs — which somehow makes migrants seem more like voluntary economic migrants — rather than asking, ‘What does work mean?’ It’s more than work as a value in a capitalist society, it means being able to take care of oneself and have self-determination.” As the program approaches its latest eight-year review, she will seek to incorporate these new perspectives on global matters and offer students options that respond to their needs.
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