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None © UNHCR/J.S.F./Junji Naito
Wooden boats similar to those that brought Rohingya refugees rest on the beach of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The other side of this quiet beach witnesses shipwreck victims and survivors, arriving on wooden boats under cover of darkness

The curriculum

Laying the ground work, participants begin the course by engaging in a reflection on the conceptualisation and globalisation of forced migration, considering the political, legal and anthropological framings of displacement, as well as debating the ethics of border controls. Building on this knowledge, attention then focuses on international and regional refugee law before undertaking a simulation in negotiating institutional responses, concentrating on negotiating strategies in the context of refugee repatriation, and the challenges of internal displacement. Participants are then given two opportunities to specialise in topics of interest such as human smuggling; Palestine refugees and international law; psychosocial support in forced migration settings; and the ethics and politics of humanitarianism (topics may vary from year to year). As the course concludes, participants draw upon their new understandings of forced migration to discuss future challenges. The bespoke curriculum comprises set lectures, carefully selected readings, debates, specially designed case-studies, structured discussions, and simulated negotiations.

The methodology

The Summer School aims to foster a culture of the reflective practitioner while also practising and developing skills useful in the workplace. The course takes an active learning approach, requiring lots of participation in group discussion and activities. Participants engage in various group and individual learning activities, providing many opportunities to share insights and experiences. Each participant is allocated to a tutor group, sometimes working in these small groups, at other times in larger groups.

The teaching

Lecturers, tutors and seminar leaders are drawn both from the Refugee Studies Centre and from outside institutions. They include research staff, academics and professionals from a number of disciplines and practices, including anthropology, politics, law, psychology, international relations, and social development.

The participants

Around 70–80 participants from all over the world study together, take part in group activities and produce independent presentations. Participants have the time and space to reflect on their own work and to benefit from the international mix and varied professional experience of other participants.

Language of instruction

All teaching and instructional materials are in English.

A typical day

While there is variation across the course, modules usually begin with a plenary lecture by a leading international expert, followed by work in tutor groups. This work involves individual reading of handbook material and tutor-led group discussion that culminates in an exercise (e.g. a simulation, debate, or presentation). Evening sessions usually involve less formal sessions and film evenings.