Building Walls, Building Bridges – MMU examines our nation’s shared heritage

Mount Mercy University invites the community to be a part of Building Walls, Building Bridges: The U.S. as an Immigrant Nation, a three-month series focused on our nation’s shared heritage as a mosaic of peoples.

“The U.S. is largely a nation that came from other nations,” said Joe Sheller, series coordinator and associate professor of communication. “Whether brought here by opportunity, forced here by oppression or danger elsewhere, or kidnapped and sold here as slaves, we are, at heart, a people of migration. Understanding our immigration stories is a key to understanding who we are.”

Nationally known guests—such as Cristina Henriquez, author of the novel “The Book of Unknown Americans” who will speak Oct. 6—will join faculty members as they explore what immigration has meant to U.S. history, as well as what immigration means to us now, through multiple presentations, performances and stories.

“Immigration is always a hot topic in an election year,” Sheller said. “It’s an issue that touches on fear, economic insecurity and national identity—and it’s a policy area where the government historically has had trouble. Our hope is to avoid shrill campaign rhetoric, and instead focus more deeply on the reality behind the headlines.”

Building Walls, Building Bridges kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 7, with a discussion titled We Are All Immigrants at 7 p.m. in Betty Cherry Heritage Hall on Mount Mercy’s main campus. The discussion, hosted by Assistant Professor of History Allison McNeese, will provide a review of U.S. immigration history with a special focus on local history.

A day-long series of events on Oct. 15, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., is intended for the community to come together to consider and share common immigration roots and stories. The day will include student works, a student panel, alumni artist Gabby Acosta, a faculty-staff panel and community group presentations. Immigrants in the community are invited to contact Sheller at if they would like to participate in the day’s events.

Building Walls, Building Bridges is the third annual Fall Faculty Series—last year’s series on the Vietnam War brought with it The Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

The semester-long series will run through Nov.17. All events in the series are free and open to the public. For more information about Mount Mercy University’s Fall Faculty Series and a complete list of events, visit