A 1-credit workshop open to all majors, 1st year through senior year. No previous knowledge or experience required. This workshop hopes to attract students from a variety of disciplines, including social and natural sciences, engineering, and regional studies. Credit granted for HONR359F or HONR228F.

In 2015, over 60 million people had fled their homes due to ongoing conflicts in Syria, Colombia, Iraq, Myanmar, South Sudan, and the Ukraine, among other countries. Alongside them were millions of others who had fled organized criminal groups in Mexico and the “Northern Triangle”, and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, flooding, and drought in the Philippines, Pakistan, and Somalia.

The international humanitarian community is at a tipping point, with an inability to raise sufficient funds to support the needs of those displaced, and an incapacity to meet their needs in many circumstances because governments and non-state actors will not permit access to humanitarian workers to deliver food, medical care, and other lifesaving assistance.

And still, as refugees from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, and Afghanistan attempted to secure protection in Europe in 2015, thousands died in unseaworthy boats that governmental authorities would not allow to dock. To stop the arrival of unaccompanied children after 70,000 had sought protection in the U.S. in 2014, the U.S. funded a new Mexican program to stop these children from reaching the U.S. In both cases, the underlying fear of persecution, torture, and other human rights abuses did not disappear, but contrary to their obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, Western countries made deliberate policy decisions to deny these refugees protection.

In this interactive workshop, students will focus their learning on three critical areas: (1) what is causing forced displacement in the 21st century; (2) what are the rights of those externally and internally displaced due to conflict, violence, and extreme weather events; and (3) how are countries taking up or thwarting their obligations under international law, and what gaps in protection undermine the rights of those on the run notwithstanding international law.

Through engaging in interactive exercises, multimedia presentations, and conversations with visiting experts, students will explore and evaluate states actions and avenues for more positive responses. By the end of the workshop, students will have a broad understanding of the human and humanitarian rights of those on the run, whether refugees or those internally displaced. This workshop if suited for and intended to attract students from a variety of disciplines, including social and natural sciences, engineering, and regional studies.

A Sample Week-by-Week Summary:

Week One: Workshop Overview

  • Short film on a specific refugee population and the challenges faced by them in securing protection over the short and long-term
  • Overview of how refugee and related laws and guidelines developed throughout the 20thCentury
  • Informal discussion among workshop members on interests and goals for workshop

Week Two: Forced Displacement in the 21st Century

  • Wartime displacement that pushed forward the development of refugee law
  • The Refugee Convention and Refugee Rights Generally
  • Daryl Grisgraber: guest speaker on Syrian refugees from a regional and international perspective

Week ThreeInternational Displacement and Shrinking Humanitarian Space

  • Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement
  • Political and Policy Challenges
  • Dara McLeod: guest speaker on how to effectively report out on the crises facing refugees and IDPs in specific situations

Week Four: Recognizing Emerging Forms of Forced Displacement

  • Organized Criminal Groups in the Americas
  • Extreme Weather Events
  • Guest Speaker: Documenting and pursuing positive policy developments for climate-related displacement

Week Five: Workshop Conclusion

  • Small group presentations on a population forcibly displaced, opportunities for positive intervention, and challenges to meeting their needs
  • Discussion