Event Recap | An Economist’s Case for Free Migration

economic case for free migration
Benjamin Powell presents at the SMU Tower Center Jan. 31.

Benjamin Powell, director of the Free Market Institute and professor of economics at Texas Tech University, visited the SMU Tower Center to give a lecture on why free migration makes economic sense.

The economic case for migration is simple: the more freely the factors of production, such as goods and services, natural resources, and labor, can move, the more efficient and productive the economy will be. Obviously, natural resources cannot be moved, which means the movement of labor is important in order to harness as much creative and productive potential as possible.

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Student Experience | Japan-U.S. Relations in the Changing World

The SMU Tower Center Sun & Star Japan-East Asia Program hosted the discussion “Japan-U.S. Relations in the Changing World” featuring Naoyuki Agawa, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, Jan. 30. SMU Junior and HCM Tower Scholar Destiny Rose Murphy wrote about her experience at the event.

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Center Spotlight | Dominique Baker

Center Spotlight Dominique BakerDominique Baker wants to make it possible for all students to have equitable opportunities. She is an assistant professor of education policy at SMU’s Simmons School and an associate at the SMU Tower Center. We sat down with her to talk about her journey to SMU and how her research could lead to more thoughtful education policies.

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TC Associate Directs New Center for China Studies in Manchester

TC Associate Directs New CenterThe Tower Center is happy to announce that our associate Peter H. Gries has been chosen as director of a new center for China Studies at the University of Manchester. The center, made possible by a generous donation by philanthropist Dr. Lee Kai Hung, will be accompanied by a Chinese Culture Gallery, and will focus on research and public outreach.

Read more about the Center.

Fellows and Associates Research Highlights: Fall 2017

Dominique Baker, Associate
  • Academic Lectures, Conference Presentations, and Speaking Engagements
    • “Undergraduate debt’s role in shaping students’ futures,” TG (formerly Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation), June 2017.
    • “Borrowing to get ahead: Undergraduate debt’s effect on graduate school decision-making,” Stanford University Center for Education Policy Analysis, March 2017.
    • “Beyond the incident: Institutional predictors of student collective action,” Midwest Political Science Association, April 2017. (with Richard S. L. Blissett)
  • Papers, Publications, and Other Writings
    • Baker, D. J., & Doyle, W. R. (2017). Impact of community college student debt levels on credit accumulation. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 671(1), 132-153.
    • Flores, S. M., Park, T. J., & Baker, D. J. (2017). The racial college completion gap: Evidence from Texas. The Journal of Higher Education. Published online first.

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Event Recap | Russia 2018: Preparing for a Post-Putin Era

Russia 2018 John Beyrle
Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle
gives a lecture at the Tower Center Jan. 23.

Spoiler alert: Vladimir Putin will win the 2018 Russian presidential election (if it can even be called an election), but is his support really at an all-time high? Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle, the final guest of the Russia Series, visited the SMU Tower Center to discuss Putin’s standing in Russia and world politics. He started his lecture with three reasons why Russia is still, and always will be, a crucial component of global politics:

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James Hollifield: Why Immigration Reform is so Hard

Tower Center Academic Director James F. Hollifield wrote an essay for the Bush Institute’s The Catalyst about the difficulty of immigration reform. He argues that international migration policy is a difficult problem to solve because of politically salient entry and exit laws, as well as questions of market influence and the impact of refugee-causing disasters.

“We must resolve these issues if we are to experience a virtuous cycle of greater openness, wealth, and human development, rather than falling back into a vicious cycle that leads the world into greater anarchy, poverty, disorder and war,” Hollifield wrote.

Read his essay here.

Scholar Spotlight | Why I go on Mission Trips

HCM Tower Scholar Brian O’Donnell has gone on three mission trips to Mexico and South America. Most recently he traveled to Mexico City over fall break and worked with an organization called Hope for the Poor. The Tower Center sat down with Brian to hear about his experiences.

Tell us about working with Hope for the Poor.

Scholar Spotlight Brian ODonnell
HCM Tower Scholar Brian O’Donnell in Peru.

Hope for the Poor, founded by Craig Johring, works with three main communities in Mexico City.

One is a community living in the city dump —
it’s a place of last resort for families if the father doesn’t want to turn to criminal activity to make money. The people living there scavenge for things they can sell. Craig goes there and brings food and sets up soccer for the kids.

Another of the communities is homeless people living within a 10-block radius of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is the main tourist attraction in the city. Craig also has a food cart for the people there and we helped distribute food to them. He keeps a list of all of the homeless people around to make sure that if someone disappears he can find out what happened to them.

The third group lives at a women’s shelter that’s hardly even a shelter. It’s a state-run operation, and it’s basically a place where they round up anyone who is homeless so that they’re not on the street. Craig is the only person who visits the shelter from outside of the government and he brings basic things that the women normally wouldn’t have access to like shampoo bottles. He also talks to them since they don’t ever have people visit them.

We spent a day at each of these communities and tried to understand these people’s lives. It was really eye-opening.

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Recap | The Rohingya Crisis: Racism, Politics and a Fragile Transition

More than 650,000 Rohingya people have fled the Rakhine State of Myanmar across the border to Bangladesh since a security crackdown began in August 2017. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to the actions of the Myanmar armed forces as ethnic cleansing. This is the fourth wave of forced migration of the Rohingya population since the country began its democratization process in 2011. Dr. Jacques Bertrand, professor of political science at the University of Toronto, discussed the roots of this crisis and what might happen next at the SMU Tower Center Jan. 10.

Roots of Racism

To understand the resentment and hatred the Burmese feel toward the Rohingya, Bertrand argues we first need to understand colonial Burma. The British Empire began to colonize Burma in 1824.

Rohingya Crisis
Dr. Jacques Bertrand gives a lecture at
the SMU Tower Center Jan. 10.

The Rakhine state was the first land to be annexed into the empire, and therefore experienced the highest levels of immigration of people from British India. These Indians became landowners and then continued to hire more Indians to work their land. The Burmese responded to the influx of Indian immigrants with a growing sense of nationalism and xenophobic sentiments.

Burma gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1948, and according to Bertrand, it was during this period that the Muslim Indian population in the Rakhine State identified themselves as Rohingya. The Rohingya enjoyed credibility in the democracy of the 1950s, but lost all their rights under the military regime of Ne Win in 1962. Ne Win attempted to remove all Indians from Burma in 1963-1964, claiming that they were foreigners and remnants of colonial rule. The Rohingya were then excluded from citizenship with the adoption of the 1982 citizenship law. By this law, residents had to prove they were living in Burma before colonial rule (1824) to gain citizenship. The law only recognized 135 ethnicities as national races, excluding several other minority groups from citizenship as well.

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