Spring 2017

Meanings of Mobility: Low-Income Latinx Youth and the American Dream

Listed in: Special Seminar, as COLQ-341


Leah C. Schmalzbauer (Section 01)


This seminar will explore the meanings of social mobility experienced by low-income Latinx youth in elite academic institutions. Specifically, it will focus on the ways in which family, gender, and legal status shape their experiences and aspirations. Sociological theories of immigrant incorporation suggest that social mobility is determined in large part by immigrants’ context of reception, the strength of their co-ethnic communities, and group levels of human capital. Latino youth, many of whom come of age in low-income, minority neighborhoods, are therefore not expected to attain high levels of education or to achieve socio-economic mobility. Indeed, theory predicts many youth will experience downward mobility. Much of the academic scholarship focuses on youth whose lives map onto these expectations. Yet in the age of need-blind admissions, elite colleges and universities have seen growing enrollments of low-income Latino youth who defy these theoretical predictions. This seminar seeks to understand Latino youths’ mobility paths and the complexities and challenges implicit in them. It is meant to be “emergent.” This means that while we immerse ourselves in the scholarship on Latino immigration, youth and mobility we will work together to determine the methodological directions(s) of the seminar.

This course is part of a model of tutorials at Amherst designed to enable students to engage in substantive research with faculty. 

Open to sophomores and juniors interested in research.  Limited to six students. Spring semester. Professor Schmalzbauer.

If Overenrolled: The professor will seek a mix of academic backgrounds and knowledge


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Research, Attention to Writing


2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017