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© 2007 Rochester Institute of Technology | Sociology and Anthropology Department | College of Liberal Arts

Global Exiles of War and Terror


(course syllabus)

Course description

Daily we watch, seemingly helplessly, as people are displaced from their communities, homelands, and countries and subsequently seek asylum around the world, sometimes within our own local communities. Causes of displacement include war, violence, persecution, and modes of terror that increasingly affect the lives of women and children. In addition to the loss of human life and potential, the ensuing consequences of violent displacement include poverty, disease, physical and psychological trauma, hopelessness, and vulnerability to human rights abuses. In this course, we explore how the rights and dignity of refugees can be protected. We also examine processes of community organization that emerge as refugees attempt to integrate into their host societies. For refugees who eventually return to their homelands, we address how they can resume normal lives in societies that are still struggling with the aftermath of war, violence and the absence of vital infrastructures. Most importantly, we inquire how the trauma of displacement can be minimized.

Required readings

Readings are selections of articles and documents concerning the global refugee crisis. These readings will be available through the library’s electronic reserve.

Course schedule
Part I: Introduction and Overview
WEEK 1: Who are the displaced?

Kälin, Walter. 2007. “Questions and Answers about Internally Displaced Persons.” In: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons). Electronic document, http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/idp/issues.htm (accessed March 2007).

UNHCR. 1992 [1979]. Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, Part One. Revised and reedited, Geneva 1992 (orig. UNHCR 1979). Electronic document, http://www.unhcr.org/publ/PUBL/3d58e13b4.pdf (accessed February 2007).

Exercise: Written Reflection. Think and write about people who are displaced within the U.S. and around the world. Questions: Who are the displaced? What are the reasons for displacing people from their homes and countries?

WEEK 2: Causes and consequences of population displacements

United Nations. 2006. The State of the World’s Refugees: Human Displacement in the New Millennium. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press. Electronic document, http://www.unhcr.org/static/publ/sowr2006/toceng.htm (accessed March 2007).

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. 2001. Refugee Reports (vol 22). Electronic document, http://www.refugees.org/article.aspx?id=1175&rid=1178&subm=19&ssm=30&area=Investigate (accessed March 2007).

Exercise: Film: Lord of War

Part II: Global Human Rights and National Policies
WEEK 3: Refugees and international human rights

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 2007. “Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948, 1989).” Electronic document, http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/eng.pdf (accessed March 2007).

Amnesty International. 1990. Reasonable Fear: Human Rights and United States Refugee Policy. New York, N.Y.: Amnesty International USA.

Exercise: Identify people in the community who impact the lives of immigrants and refugees during the course of their jobs.

WEEK 4: U. S. refugee and immigration policies

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 2006. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Electronic document, http://www.uscis.gov/propub/ProPubVAP.jsp?dockey=baeb6daf5705c4f8629f8b6ea9f7c64d (accessed February 2007).

Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Policy and Legislative Authority. The Refugee Act. Electronic document, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/policy/refact1.htm (accessed February 2007).

Exercise: Review and respond to U.S. and international legislation relating to immigration, refugee and asylum status.

Part III: Reshaping Communities
WEEK 5: Refugee communities: Displacement and integration

Stenström, Erik. 2001. “Resettlement as a Multi-faceted Protection Tool and its Relationship to Migration.” Paper presented at the Global Consultations on International Protection Regional Resettlement Meeting, Oslo (Norway), November 6-7, 2001. Electronic document, http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/3c55256b5.pdf (accessed February 2007).

Robinson, V. and C. Coleman. 2000. “Lessons Learned? A Critical Review of the Government Programme to Resettle Bosnian Quota Refugees in the United Kingdom.” International Migration Review 34 (4): 1217-1244.

Exercise: Identify and contact an immigrant or refugee group in your community.

WEEK 6: Local communities of refugees and others who are displaced

Fanjoy, Martha, Hilary Ingraham, Cyrena Khoury and Amir Osman. 2005. Expectations & Experiences of Resettlement: Sudanese Refugees’ Perspectives on their Journeys from Egypt to Australia, Canada and the United States. Forced Migration & Refugee Studies Program: The American University in Cairo. Electronic document, http://www.aucegypt.edu/fmrs/documents/resettlement-final-edited.pdf (accessed February 2007).

Ryan, J. K., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration. 2005. “ Refugee Resettlement and Integration.” Paper presented at the Tenth Regional Conference on Migration, Vancouver, Canada.

Exercise: Identify and contact an immigrant or refugee group in your community.

WEEK 7: Community partnerships for successful resettlement

Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). 2002. Annual Report to Congress. Electronic document, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/policy/arc_02.htm (accessed February 2007).

Ramaliu, A., and W. E. Thurston. 2003. “Identifying Best Practices of Community Participation in Providing Services to Refugee Survivors of Torture: A Case Description.” Journal of Immigrant Health 5(4): 165-172.

Exercise: Identify and contact a community, religious or professional group in your community that provides services for refugees.

Exercise: Invite for refugee forum.

Part IV: Life in the Aftermath
WEEK 8: Economic self-sufficiency and poverty

Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). 2000. “Economic Self-Sufficiency.” In: Annual Report to Congress 2000. Electronic document, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/policy/00arc9a.htm. (accessed February 2007).

Breaking Through Barriers of Refugee Self-Sufficiency. 2004. Refugee Works, The National Center for Refugee Employment and Self-Sufficiency 5 (3): whole issue.

Exercise: Conduct community visit.

WEEK 9: Physical and mental health

Macksoud, M. S., and J. L. Aber. 1996. The War Experiences and Psychosocial Development of Children in Lebanon. Child Development 67(1): 70-88.

Stein, B. D., L. H. Jaycox, S. H. Kataoka, M. Wong, W. Tu, M. N. Elliott, and et al. 2003. “A Mental Health Intervention for Schoolchildren Exposed to Violence: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Medical Association 290 (5): 603-611.

Exercise: Film: Well-Founded Fear

WEEK 10: Differential impact on women and children

Ward, Jeanne, and Mendy Marsh. 2006. “Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in War and Its Aftermath: Realities, Responses, and Required Resources.” A Briefing Paper prepared for United Nations Symposium on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Beyond, Brussels (Belgium), June 21-23, 2006. Electronic document, http://www.unfpa.org/emergencies/symposium06/docs/finalbrusselsbriefingpaper.pdf (accessed February 2007).

United Nations. 1989. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Electronic document, http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/pdf/crc.pdf (accessed February 2007).

Exercise: Conduct community visit.

WEEK 11: Family dynamics and cultural integration

Portes, A., and M. Zhou. 1994. “Should Immigrants Assimilate?” Public Interest 116: 18-33.

Umana-Taylor, A. J., R. Bhanot, and N. Shin. 2006. “Ethnic Identity Formation During Adolescence: The Critical Role of Families.” Journal of Family Issues 27 (3): 390-414.

Exercise: Conduct community visit.

WEEK 12: Educational attainment

Neugebauer, R. 2003. “School-Based Interventions for Children Exposed to Violence.” Journal of the American Medical Association 290(19): 2541-2542.

Chang, J. and T. N. Le. 2005. “The Influence of Parents, Peer Delinquency, and School Attitudes on Academic Achievement in Chinese, Cambodian, Laotian or Mien, and Vietnamese Youth.” Crime and Delinquency 51 (2): 238-265.

Buriel, R., W. Perez, T. L. De Ment, D. V. Chavez, and V. R. Moran. 1998. “The Relationship of Language Brokering to Academic Performance, Biculturalism, and Self-Efficacy Among Latino Adolescents.” Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 20 (3):283-297.

Exercise: Complete assessment of refugee community.

WEEK 13: Return and reintegration of refugees into their countries of origin

Redmond, Ron. 2003. “Iraq: UNHCR’s Preliminary repatriation and reintegration plan for Iraq.” Electronic document, http://www.unhcr.org/news/NEWS/3ea938204.html (accessed February 2007).

Inter-Parliamentary Union. 1998. “The Prevention of Conflicts and the Restoration of Peace and Trust in Countries Emerging from War: The Return of Refugees to their Countries of Origin, the Strengthening of Democratic Processes and the Hastening of Reconstruction.” Resolution of the 99th Inter-Parliamentary Conference, Windhoek, South Africa, April 10, 1998. Electronic document, http://www.ipu.org/conf-e/99-1.htm (accessed February 2007).

Grahl-Madsen, Atle et al. (eds.). 1996. The Living Law of Nations: Essays on Refugees, Minorities, Indigenous Peoples, and the Human Rights of Other Vulnerable Groups. Arlington, Va: N.P. Engel.

Exercise: Work on organization of refugee forum.

Part V: Student and Community Engagement in Developing Effective Refugee Policies
WEEK 14: Student Presentations

Exercise: Students will discuss issues refugees experience as they struggle to integrate into their host society, and provide policy measures to aid in their successful resettlement.

WEEK 15: Refugee Forum

Exercise: Provide a forum for an immigrant, refugee, or someone who works with these groups to share their stories publicly.

Notes on teaching

This course is designed to engage students in forming their own ideas about global refugee issues, and their impacts on local communities. Students will be encouraged to make their own observations and reach their own conclusions. Students are expected to complete the assigned readings before class and to participate in class discussions of the readings. Participation includes reflecting on the readings and commenting on them in class. The course is also based on experiential learning and is intended to be hands-on, where students will be required to spend a significant proportion of class time within the local community. Students will be graded on their written responses to the weekly assigned readings and assignments. The final assignment is student presentations of a salient issue facing diverse refugee groups, with policy suggestions to meet the resettlement needs of refugees in local American communities.

*The course exercises were adapted from activities listed in: Well-Founded Fear: Facilitators’ Guide, a film by Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini.
*Availability of online articles and documents subject to change.