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Dec. 27, 2007 – What does the face of the American West look like in 2008? What has influenced its evolution and where is it headed?

Only one day into the new year and honors students at the University of Utah are pondering the increasingly complex topic of immigration and the American West in a forum titled “New Meanings of the American West.” The forum, to be held Jan. 2-5, will take place in the Commanders House at the Historic Fort Douglas at the University of Utah. Media are welcome. A complete schedule of events is included below.

“New Meanings of the American West” will bring together students, scholars and community members for an intense four-day encounter to explore immigration and the meaning of the West. Using science, politics, poetry, history, economics and the fine arts as sources to understand definitions and representations of the West and immigration, participants will work together to design alternative practices for ongoing collaboration between students and communities.

Sponsored by the Honors College, the forum is part of a series that will address the complex issues particular to the American West, recognizing how these issues are national and global as well as regional.

“The American West represents a particularly potent region, because of its mythological positioning in the history of our country and because of the issues unique to its people, climate, and landscape,” says Vicky Newman, assistant professor of communication. “Community and region will become a framework for exploration and invention in the Honors Forums.”

Newman has invited a diverse range of community members to participate in the forum, including ESL students, farmers and ranchers, business leaders and union representatives.

“These diverse groups will bring their issues and questions together to shape some of the initial discussion and research for the forum that follows,” she says. “This kind of engaged learning provides students a way to use their intellect and talent to better understand their community and to become more active and informed citizens.”

Included in that group is Luis Mendoza, chair of the University of Minnesota’s department of Chicano studies, who recently completed an 8,500 mile bicycle trip around the United States in which he interviewed people about immigration, citizenship, and identity.

“My goal is to listen to the person on the street, to meet people in churches, cafes, and bars, to find out what they understand are the issues around the ‘Latino-ization’ of the U.S.,” Mendoza said prior to his journey. “My hope is that this journey will not be just my story, but the story of the people I encounter who are both part of the problem and part of the solution. My goal is to offer much needed insight from voices that aren’t often heard in formal media venues.”

Forum Schedule:
Wednesday, Jan. 2
Documentary Spectre of Hope explores globalization and exodus of people around the world, 7 to 8 p.m.
Discussion lead by Robert Newman, dean of the U of U College of Humanities, 9 to 10 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 3
Contextualizing immigration, 9 to 10:30 a.m.
Lorina Tester, Associate General Counsel, University of Utah

Globalization, the economy, and immigration, 10:30 to noon
George Cheney, professor of communication and director of the Tanner Peace and Conflict Studies program, University of Utah.

The economy and immigration: Historical perspectives in the United States, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Ken Jameson, professor of economics, University of Utah

Perspectives on the American West, 2 to 4:30 p.m.
Matt Basso, director of the Center for the Study of the American West and assistant professor of history, University of Utah

Can we have still another perspective? First peoples reflect, 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Forrest Cuch, Ute tribe director, Utah Division of Indian Affairs

Discussion session, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Scenes from the focus groups and reflections; Discussion of Ngai’s Impossible Subjects

Friday, Jan. 4
How are immigrants constructed in culture and the media? 9 to 11 a.m.
Historical and contemporary images, cartoons, and writings.
Vicky Newman, Louis Mendoza, and Samantha Borstadt

How do we learn about everyday lives? 12:30 to 2 p.m.
Rebecca Cammissa, documentary filmmaker will have an advanced screening of parts of her work-in-progress documentary and discuss methods for research and representation.

What if I just got on my bicycle and rode around to find out? 2:15 to 4:15 p.m.
Louis Mendoza reflects on his 8,500 mile trip around the United States’ borders.

Can we talk? 4:30 to 7 p.m.
Diverse perspectives with community guests, including representatives from the Honors Think Tank on immigration and Tony Yapias, Rebecca Cammissa, Luis Mendoza.

Saturday, Jan 5
Family, Education, and Health: What do we know about the lives of immigrants? 9 to 10:30 a.m.
Caitlin Cahill, assistant professor of family and consumer studies; Matt Bradley, Honors College faculty; student researchers from West High School present other ways of seeing and knowing.

Medicine and faith: The body and soul in pain, 10:30 to noon
Dr. Mansur Emam, Maliheh Clinic and John C. Wester Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City and chair of committee on migration of the US catholic bishops.

The Brown Berets (SLC), 10:30 to noon

Coming to America: What is it like entering the Golden Door? 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Representatives from the focus groups tell their stories.f

Wrap up discussion with Luis Mendoza, 3 to 4:30 p.m.f
For more information or to attend any of the events above, contact Vicky Newman at