John S. W. Park


Contact Phone

(805) 893-8573

Office Location

HSSB 5050


Immigration law and policy, race theory, political theory and public law.


Ph.D., Berkeley, Jurisprudence and Social Policy, 2000

M.P.P., Harvard, Kennedy School of Government, 1993

B.A., summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Berkeley, Rhetoric, 1991


John S.W. Park is Professor of Asian American Studies and an affiliated faculty member in Sociology. Prior to his appointment at UCSB, he was an Assistant Professor of American Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He completed his doctorate in Jurisprudence and Social Policy at Boalt Hall, the School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. He has a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and he graduated summa from Berkeley with a degree in Rhetoric. He worked for a year at an immigration law firm in San Francisco before completing his Ph.D. in 2000. From 2007 to 2011, he served as an Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education in the College of Letters and Science.  From 2011 to the present, he has served as the Associate Director for the UC Center for New Racial Studies.  From 2013 to 2016, he was the Chair of the Department of Asian American Studies.

Professor Park writes and teaches on topics in race theory, immigration law and policy, and Anglo-American legal and political theory. In 2004, he published Elusive Citizenship, a book with NYU Press on the philosophical and legal justifications for federal immigration law, as well as the law’s subsequent impact on Asian Americans. In 2005, he co-authored Probationary Americans, a book about contemporary immigration rules and American race theory, with his older brother, Edward Park, the Director of the Asian Pacific American Studies Program at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.  In 2013, Temple University Press published his third book, Illegal Migrations and the Huckleberry Finn Problem; in 2014, the Association of College and Research Libraries selected this book as an Outstanding Academic Title, one of nine books in Political Theory that were chosen, and "bringing with it the extraordinary recognition of the academic library community."  He is currently working on another scholarly book on Korean and Korean American History.

Professor Park has published articles and reviews in a wide range of scholarly journals, and he has contributed regularly to the The Law and Politics Book Review and to edited volumes on race, immigration, and Asian American Studies. He has served on the Editorial Board of The Law and Society Review, and he has reviewed manuscripts for the Journal of Asian American Studies.

At Cal, UT, and UCSB, Professor Park has taught the following courses: Asian American Legal History; Korean American History; Chinese American History; Colonialism and Migration; Contemporary Legal Issues in Asian American Communities; Law and Politics; Race and Law; and Jurisprudence. All of his courses are offered through interdisciplinary perspectives drawn from philosophy, law, public policy, comparative ethnic studies, and Asian American history.  Since 2016, he has served as a visiting faculty member at the Yonsei International Summer School, in Seoul, South Korea, where he has taught American Immigration Law, American Constitutional Law, and Law and Philosophy.  In the 2021-2022 academic year, with Professors France Winddance Twine, Lisa Parks, Kim Yasuda, and Jean Beaman, he was the recipent of a Mellon Sawyer Seminar Award on "Race, Precarity, and Privilege: Migration in a Global Context."  In the 2022-2023 academic year, Professor Park was a visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Law and Society at the Berkeley Law School.  

In addition to teaching, Professor Park has advised many, many students over the years, and for a fun set of essays about college, picking a major, graduate school, and other advising matters, please click here. In 2011, his colleagues in the Division of Student Affairs at UCSB awarded him the Margaret T. Getman Service to Students Award.  Since 2015, he has been the President of the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at UCSB.  He has served many years on the Academic Senate's Committee for Admissions, Enrollment, and Relations with Schools (CAERS).  

Professor Park is married to Gowan Lee, and they have three children, Zoe, Isabel, and Sophie. When he had free time, he used to fish (with Edward), watch lots of movies, and read lots of books, mostly on Greek and Roman history, European history and philosophy, and East Asian history and philosophy. Now he mostly hangs out with Gowan and the kids. 

To send e-mail to Professor Park, please click here.



This painting by Ajean Lee Ryan, Treasure Map on My Hand, appears on the cover of Illegal Migrations and the Huckleberry Finn Problem (2013), published by Temple University Press.  To order the book, please click on the cover, above.  For an essay about some of the art, literature, and poetry in Illegal Migrations, please click here.

In March 2018, Polity Press published the fourth book: Immigration Law and Society.  This book was based largely on Professor Park's lower division course, American Migrations Since 1965, Asian American Studies 2, a class that he's taught for many years.

To visit the website dedicated to this book, for students taking this class, and for professors and instructors who might want to teach a version of this class, please click here: Immigration Law and Society





Professor Park's Advising Essays

Over the years, as a professor and as a dean in the College of Letters and Science at UC Santa Barbara, I've met with many, many students and I've given lots and lots of advice. All of my colleagues have done the same, of course, and while it's nice to advise students one-on-one, I keep getting more students and bigger classes, and it has seemed to me that many of their issues and concerns are recurring ones. In the Dean's office, when students are struggling, they're not exactly sure what happened, and again, the advice we give tends to be similar from student to student. I thought I should collect some things I've written over the years for all of my current and prospective students, especially the ones who are new to the University, if only to help them avoid common problems that come up in college.

This first essay, "General Teaching Philosophy," outlines some policies I've used mostly in my lower division classes, and I wrote this to give new and prospective students a much better sense of what students can expect in my classes. I did not mean for it to be so long: I was hoping for a two or three page thing, but it grew, and grew, until the ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around. If you'd like an executive summary, it's this: read the syllabus; do all of the readings carefully; attend lectures and pay attention; attend discussion sections; expect essay exams that will require you to write answers that will integrate, masterfully, the materials presented in lectures and in the readings; and try not to be creepy, particularly in lectures and in the discussion sections. Although this essay is for students in my classes, I know for certain that many professors have similar policies, and so you might want to read this one even if it's a little long.

As many as ten to fifteen percent of incoming freshman and transfer students throughout the UC system have serious academic trouble during their first year at a UC. In the most severe cases, such students may be dismissed, and they may only seek reinstatement to the University when they can prove that they can be successful academically in some other setting. It's a very unpleasant business, getting dismissed, and so this next essay, "What to Do When Things Go Bad," was written for students that are, or may be, in that position. Many students are in the wrong major, or they are meandering without a clear direction, so if you suspect that this might be you, you might browse this essay, "Picking a Major," even though I wrote this one mostly for students who are just having that classic problem, "How do I pick a major?"

On the other end of college, an increasing fraction of UCSB students have gone on to elite graduate programs when they finish here. Still, among many students headed in that direction, there's often some confusion about which programs might be right for them. They're not sure about the difference, say, between a master's degree, a law degree, or a Ph.D. I didn't go to medical school, dental school, or veterinary school, but I did get a graduate degree in public policy, then I went to a law school and stuck around for a Ph.D. These three inter-related essays, about "Professional Degrees," "Law School," and "The Ph.D," are for students who might also consider one or more of these options.

Finally, I was once a "Primo Prof," according to my colleagues in the Division of Student Affairs, and they asked me to write about how I got to college, what I'd learned in college, as well as for general advice for UCSB students. I am no longer a Primo Prof, at least not officially, but this interview might be amusing to you just the same, if only because it talks about how a research university like this one is very different than other kinds of colleges and universities. 

In 2011, Professor Park gave the convocation address to incoming first-year students at UCSB; for a copy of that speech, please click here.

Please let me know if you'd like to share thoughts or reactions about anything you've read here. My e-mail address is