Introduction to Moving Past

By Donna M. Neary

Moving Past was funded by the National Geographic Society through a Covid-19 Remote Learning Emergency Fund for Educators Grant. It is centered on shifting historical perspectives and narratives of human migration through primary sources and storytelling. By designing a template driven by inquiry and reflection we hope to guide students as the navigate stories of human movement and settlement.

Developed in partnership with Re-imagining Migration through Executive Director Adam Strom, the project relies on the existing frameworks of Re-imagining Migration’s Teaching and Curriculum Design by Strom, Veronica Boix-Mansilla, and the use of Thinking Routines developed Project-Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education. Called Moving Past: Migration Case Studies the project is designed to shift narratives of human migration by presenting historical perspectives through primary sources and storytelling. This project focuses on presenting the documents, words and experiences of those involved in real events. The project is envisioned to inform the present by examining migration in the past, and to support students’ understanding as they face their futures. We hope students will connect to these stories and that these connections advance broader understanding and interest in what compels people to move, and/or want to stay. Re-imagining Migration includes this content on their site to support their mission, …to advance the education and well-being of immigrant-origin youth, decrease bias and hatred against young people of diverse origins, and help rising generations develop the critical understanding and empathy necessary to build and sustain welcoming and inclusive communities.”

Migration is an ongoing aspect of human existence; one that has or will impact each of us in our lifetimes. Moving Past strives to share stories of historical migration and movements of people caused by invasion, conquest, colonization and emigration/immigration. Presented  as case studies, these stories reveal the many, multiple causes and effects of human migration. The case studies are inquiry-driven, inviting analysis and examination, and consideration of facts.

Establishing space for inclusive, equitable and socially just portrayals of human migration is at the forefront of this initiative. The goal of these case studies is to challenge perceptions and/or preconceived notions of migrants and to examine the policies and laws governments enacted, and will continue to enact regarding migration. The case studies invite students to recognize that multiple perspectives must be explored to form a fuller understanding of the causes and effects of the movement of people. And importantly, to respect the needs, wants and motivations of those who accept the risks, challenges and rewards of migration. Case studies identify primary source materials and invite students to question and reflect on responses to migrants.