About the Global Mobility Project

The Global Mobility Project at Ohio State

Humanities & Arts Discovery Theme Pilot Project


Vera Brunner-Sung, Jeffrey Cohen, Theodora Dragostinova, Yana Hashamova, and Robin Judd

Global mobility is a defining issue for the 21st century. The Global Mobility Project at Ohio State integrates the insights of the arts, humanities, and social sciences to facilitate both a conversation and an investigation of how local culture and individual decision-making inform and reflect the complex global forces behind mobility. We give a central role to the humanities and arts as we reimagine the human dimensions and dynamic cultural reverberations of the movement of peoples, internationally and locally.

A world without borders seemed certain with the end of the Cold War. Yet today, there are more than 65 million refugees and 253 million migrants worldwide whose presence challenges the notion of open borders. Xenophobia and ultranationalist political parties are on the rise. But movers also navigate distances and cultural expectations in more fluid ways, making choices based on personal or community reasons. Our group allows Ohio State to play a leading role in the vital discussion of these global challenges, gaining insight into their causes, dynamics, and outcomes.

Our project integrates the expertise of five faculty members working on global mobility from the perspectives of anthropology, history, literature, film/media studies, and filmmaking. Focusing on two main research questions, what does it mean to leave home and how do communities accept newcomers, we foster the exchange of ideas on campus, engage students in and outside the classroom, and forge connections with the wider community in Columbus and beyond. Our work is a foundation for a permanent program in Global Mobility with research, creative, instructional, and public outreach missions.