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Understanding the Global Refugee Crisis

De-Constructing/Re-Constructing the Refugee Experience explores the dynamics of the current crisis and the challenges it poses for refugees, host communities and international law. It aims to offer concrete research-based interventions to address both the causes and consequences of this crisis. Duke students and faculty collaborate both with refugee communities and international, national and local NGOs working with these communities. Working from a variety of methodological, theoretical, disciplinary and political perspectives, participants address a single research question: how does displacement affect the well-being and the social identity of those displaced?

DukeImmerse:De-Constructing/Re-Constructing students work together through a semester of four classes and with a month of field research abroad.

History of the Program

Originally called Uprooted/Rerouted, the program in its first two years involved a systematic comparison of Bhutanese and Iraqi refugees, two of the three groups the U.S. State Department and Office of Homeland Security have specially targeted for resettlement, and the two fastest growing refugee populations in Durham and surrounding areas. In 2014, as part of the Bass Connections working group in Displacement, Resettlement and Global Mental Health, Syrian refugee populations were included as well.

The Bhutanese were expelled from Bhutan two decades ago, lived in poverty in refugee camps, are largely illiterate, mostly don’t speak English, mostly come from agricultural backgrounds, and tend to convert from Hinduism to Christianity just before or after resettlement. The Iraqis left only recently, spent little or no time in refugee camps, are solidly middle-class, highly educated professionals, speak fluent English, and don’t tend to convert. How do these factors affect the likelihood of successful resettlement?

Meet the 2017 De-Constructing/Re-Constructing Students
Isabella Arbelaez is a sophomore majoring in History with a concentration in Human Rights and a minor in Spanish. She currently lives in São Paulo, Brazil, and enjoys running outdoors, traveling, and spending time with her three younger siblings.
Bryce Cracknell is a junior from Charlotte, NC majoring in Public Policy with a concentration in race and poverty, and a minor in Environmental Science and Policy.  He enjoys playing soccer, cheering on Duke athletics, attending plays/musicals, and anything Star Wars.
Sara Evall is a sophomore Program II major in Refugee and Migrant Studies. She is from Los Angeles, California, and loves spending time at the beach, traveling and exploring new cultures, reading, trying new types of foods, and watching movies.
Idalis French is a sophomore majoring in Psychology and is interested in the Child Policy Research certificate. She loves writing, hanging out with her closest friends, and is very involved in her campus ministry.
Louden Richason is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is thinking of studying economics and likes to play pick-up sports of any kind, draw, and read. He’s willing to play Euchre at any hour of the day and has recently mastered the art of the twenty minute nap.
Sloan Talbot is a sophomore double majoring in Cultural Anthropology and Political Science with a Certificate in Ethics. Sloan is interested in deconstructing the White Savior Complex in International Development work, and enjoys watching her fair share of cooking tutorials in her free time.
Josie Tarin is a first-year student majoring in political science and international comparative studies. Josie’s interests include taking midnight strolls, reading up on current events and watching any and all documentaries.



Immerse-photosSpring 2017 Courses

Global Migration and Ethics (Ethics/CulAnth/ICS):

An overview of current scholarship on the anthropology of global migration, and the key ethical predicaments at the center of contemporary forms of human mobility. Featuring an anthropological examination of current debates drawing on ethnographic texts, legal and policy materials, biography, literature and film.  Areas of Knowledge: SS. Modes of Inquiry: EI. Instructor: Suzanne Shanahan.

Field Ethics (Ethics/Sociology):

An introduction to qualitative research design and analysis including interviewing, ethnography, focus groups as well as a a variety of visual methods, including mapping and photo elicitation. Emphasis on the ethics of research design, implementation, and presentation and ethics of research with vulnerable populations. Students will collect refugee life stories as the basis of a documentary theater production they will write and perform as their final project. Course may include field research in Jordan and Nepal.  Areas of Knowledge: SS, ALP. Modes of Inquiry: EI, R, W. Instructor: Marcia Rego.

Arab Society in Culture and Film (AMES/Ethics):

Examination of Arab worldviews (including cultural variations, artistic expressions, view about gender, and religion, and perspectives toward the U.S.). Explores the development of images of the Arab and seeks to understand them in the context of the Arab world as well as in its relationship to the West. Analyzes the dynamics between norms of modern civil society and those dictated by religious traditions. Critically examines current Western assumptions, representations and understanding of Arab societies, and the moral frameworks in which different choices are debated in the Arab context. Areas of Knowledge: ALP, CZ. Modes of Inquiry: CCI, EI. Instructor: Mbaye Lo.

Refugee Policy and Practice (Ethics/ICS/PolSci):

Uses current debates around refugee law and policy as the context in which to develop basic quantitative research design and analysis skills.  Course may include data collection  with resettled refugee locally and in Jordan and in Nepal.  Areas of Knowledge: SS. Modes of Inquiry: QS, CCI, EI. Instructor: Amber Pearson.

Contact Professor Suzanne Shanahan with any additional questions.

DukeImmerse is a partnership between the Office of Undergraduate Education and the Kenan Institute for Ethics.



Previous Years of DukeImmerse

The Spring 2016 students traveled to Amman, Jordan for their month of field research from mid-February to mid-March. Check their letters home to learn about their time collecting refugee narratives.