Premise: Imagine that you are part of an advocacy group that tries to influence the UN and the US government to provide better protection, services, and durable solutions to refugees and asylum seekers. Your advocacy group is well-respected because your reports are always well-researched and evidence-based.
Instructions: You have been asked to write a report that tackles at least one of the issues below. Your organization will send this report to the UN and/or to the US government, depending on the topic:
Refugee Status Determination and other issues relating to determining who ‘qualifies’ as a refugee with UNHCR
Providing temporary assistance to refugees (in camps, urban settings, etc)
Providing durable solutions to refugees (repatriation, resettlement, local integration)
The process of applying and being granted asylum in the US
Inaccurate or negative narratives about refugees and asylum seekers and the negative impact that those narratives have on policy and programs. (In other words, while negative stereotypes are harmful in and of themselves, I also want you to relate how negative stereotypes may impact asylum claims, or RSD, or durable solutions, etc.)
Your report should accomplish the following:
Diagnose and explain the problems that currently exist with the system. Draw on your readings and lectures for that information.
Provide several specific examples from history of the problems that exist by drawing on case studies in history that help illustrate the problems and/or that point to possible solutions. You can weave these examples throughout your essay to support the points that you’re making. Draw on your readings for those historical examples.
Provide at least one specific recommendation to fix at least one aspect of the problem you’ve diagnosed. Justify this recommendation using information and examples from class readings and lectures.
Think your recommendation through carefully; by “solving” one problem, will you create other issues? Acknowledge and address those.
End with a personal appeal explaining why you care about this topic and why you think others should get involved.
In this section, it might be relevant for you to discuss examples of faith-based advocacy groups in history that we’ve studied in class, especially if your activism is also inspired by faith. We’ve studied the American Friends Service Committee (aka, Quakers) in Gaza; the Sanctuary Movement in the US; and the role of faith-based refugee resettlement organizations in the US. How do the actions of these groups in history inspire you? Or what do you think people can learn from their activism?
Sources to Use:
You should not do any outside research. Draw on all of your class readings to support your analysis.
It’s up to you how many readings to include; there is no minimum number. However, you should try to draw on as many relevant readings as possible to strengthen and enrich your analysis.
Historical case studies: in this class, we’ve studied DPs in Europe, Jewish refugees in Palestine, Palestinian refugees, Somali refugees in Kenya, Syrian refugees in Jordan, Central American asylum seekers in the US, the Sanctuary Movement in the US and more. Use any and all of these historical case studies to support your analysis, including any other examples that came up in your Oxford Handbook readings.
Here is a list of all our class readings so far to inspire you to think about all the resources you have to draw on in writing this essay:
Brian Sokol Ted Talk “Humanizing the Refugee Crisis”
“DP Camps”
Stone “Underground to Palestine”
Oxford Ch. 18 on UNRWA
“Difficult Distinctions” in Gaza by Ilana Feldman
Oxford Ch. 36 on Media and Representations
Oxford ch. 29 on Refugee Voices
City of Thorns
Oxford ch. 10 “Encampment and Self-Settlement”
Oxford ch. 11 “Urban Refugees and IDPs”
Oxford ch 38 “Local Integration”
Oxford ch. 40 “Refugee Resettlement”
Oxford ch. 15: “Forced Migrants as ‘Illegal Migrants'”
Minian, “The Long History of the US Immigration Crisis”
Ghosh, “How Migration Detention became American Policy”
National Immigration Forum Factsheet on Immigration Detention
The biggest thing I will grade you on is how well your support your ideas and analysis with specific information and examples drawn from class readings. Writing vaguely with big generalizations and few citations will earn a “C”.
Example of an “A”-quality paper:
“The issue of refoulement, or forcible return, is a problem facing Burmese refugees in Thailand today, but the problem dates back at least as far as World War II when allied forces agreed to forcibly return refugees from the Soviet Union (DPs in Europe, pg#; Dr. Alissa Walter, “Lecture,” date). In my paper, I will identify 3 issues related to refoulement: issue x, issue y, and issue z. Then I will recommend solutions drawn from prior examples in history, such as in Dadaab camp in Kenya, where Somali refugees have also faced the possibility of forced return (Rawlence, City of Thorns, pg#).”
Example of a “C-” quality paper:
“Refoulement is a big problem that affects all refugees everywhere. No one wants to be returned against their will, and no one should be. The easiest solution is simply to stop governments from forcing refugees to return.”
For other info about grading, see the rubric below.
Nitty-Gritty Paper Requirements
Expected length: 4-5 pages double-spaced with 12 pt font and 1″ margins. It’s okay to go longer.
You must include citations every time that you paraphrase readings and every time that you directly quote readings. Use the following formats:
For chapters in the Oxford Handbook: (LastName, “Shortened Title,” pg #)
City of Thorns: (Rawlence, City of Thorns, pg#)
Any other readings: (LastName, “Title,” pg#)
Lectures: (Dr. Alissa Walter, “Lecture Title,” date)