Yale’s Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies announced the establishment of a new program on refugees, forced displacement and humanitarian responses last week.
The new program, led by faculty and students at Yale and elsewhere, will explore topics and problems connected with the refugee experience — from challenges of displacement to integration into new communities. In addition to working with both Yale faculty and refugee-related student initiatives on campus, the program will launch a global “Refugee Research Network” and offer grants and fellowships. It will also fund campus events and an annual symposium, the first of which — titled “The Next Generation of Humanitarianism and Refugee Studies: Challenges and Opportunities” — will be held on April 13.
“In an era where the forced displacement of more than 200 million people is having a profound impact on our world, it is imperative that we search for responses and solutions that have a more productive and meaningful impact,” said Ian Shapiro GRD ’83, the director of the MacMillan Center, and Sterling Professor of Political Science, in a release last week.
Yale has already launched some initiatives related to the study of refugees, including an “Intro to Critical Refugee Studies” course, taught by Quan Tran GRD ’15, that is now in its second year. This course, among others related to the study of the program’s topics, is listed on the program’s website. However, the new program will be the first comprehensive initiative on campus, encompassing all of Yale’s professional schools, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and organizations beyond Yale’s campus. It will also introduce a gateway course on issues of refugees and forced displacement.
Shapiro also said that the program will put resources on refugees from Yale as well as information about the field experience of various researchers, humanitarian workers and policy makers under one “virtual roof.” These initiatives will serve to aid the writing of academic papers on the topics and lead to “sound policy advice,” he added.
Kaveh Khoshnood SPH ’89 GRD ’95, director of both the Global Health Studies Program and the Yale School of Public Health’s BA/BS-MPH degree program, said that according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, one in every 113 people on Earth today is either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee. Because of that, he said, MacMillan’s program is timely and focuses on an issue that is significant globally.
Programs and centers similar to Yale’s already exist all over the globe, some of which MacMillan has begun collaborating with.
According to the program’s website, MacMillan has already teamed up with American University of Beirut’s #AUB4Refugees program, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab and the humanitarian aid group Mercy Corps. American University’s initiative, much like MacMillan’s program, focuses on bringing together faculty members and units working on the Syrian refugee crisis for collaboration. Poverty Action Lab works on “[reducing] poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence” and Mercy Corps is an NGO focused on humanitarian aid.
Aside from teaming up with official research organizations, MacMillan’s program has already reached out to some on-campus groups, such as “Students of Salaam,” according to its co-president Stella Shannon ’18.
“We are open to any collaboration that interests our ambassadors and/or improves the scope or depth of our current program offerings,” she said. “The more interest and energy directed towards the rights and narratives of all humans on earth, including those deemed illegal or homeless by international policy, the better.”
The MacMillan Center received its current name in 2006.