Central European University A Program for University Teachers, Advanced Ph.D. Students, Researchers and Professionals in the Social Sciences and Humanities Summer University

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  July 5 - July 16, 1999

Course Directors:  

Professor Arthur C. Helton (Director, Forced Migration Projects, Open Society Institute, Adjunct Professor of Law,  New York University)
Professor Boldizsár Nagy (Associate Professor, Eötvös Loránd University, Recurring Visiting Professor, CEU)

Resource Persons

Professor Alastair Ager (Queen Margaret College, Edinburgh)
Bernadette A. Brusco (Consultant, Open Society Institute)
Professor Danièle Joly (University of Warwick)
Professor Will Kymlicka (University of Ottawa)
Professor Gil Loescher (University of Notre Dame)
Nuala Mole (Director, AIRE Centre, London)
Marina Murvanidze, Consultant: Open Society Institute
Professor Vello Andres Pettai (University of Tartu)
Professor Endre Sík (Budapest University of Economics)

Course Description
The aim of the course is to offer an intensive interdisciplinary review of the law (with a focus on human rights) and other social sciences related to the refugee (forced displacement) phenomenon. Centered around a comprehensive approach to the process from forced displacement and its causes to durable solutions, the lectures present insights from a variety of disciplines -- including law, political science, international relations, sociology, social psychology, and other interdisciplinary inquiries such as the study of nationalism.

The course is designed for an audience with varied backgrounds. Scholars who are used to broad statements about "refugees" will investigate the law and associated values at the universal level, with significant regional dimensions. Practitioners will become acquainted with the sociological problems of integration, and the psychological complexities of traumatized, isolated persons.  After the course, each participant should have a deeper knowledge of forced displacement in his/her own field and a clear understanding of the interrelationships between the fields.  They should have the resources to develop a curriculum, conduct research and analyze issues of forced migration.

Course level and target audience
Because of its interdisciplinary character, the assumption is that participants will have at least a basic level of knowledge of the topic within their own field of specialization, but have little or none in the other aspects of forced displacement.  The course is designed for a varied audience with different professional backgrounds, who nevertheless have common characteristics: they are educators or researchers associated with educational institutions, or graduate policymakers in their early to middle careers.

Course content
The course is issue oriented, combining insights on forced displacement from different disciplines.  It introduces the participants to classical and current relevant literature, theories and documents necessary to develop and support the capacities of university faculty,  professionals and policymakers in the areas of human rights and forced displacement.

The core content of the course is organized along an imagined sojourn
of a forced migrant.

Part I puts forced displacement into context, reviewing theories explaining migration, the contemporary use of the terms, and trends. The "factual" context is then  enlarged to provide insight into deeper causes of frictions within societies leading to displacement, concentrating on nationalism, ethnic tensions, and cultural clashes, including language and citizenship policies.

Part II presents responses and remedies within refugee law and institutions, reviews the League of Nations and UN refugee regime and explores the interplay between international politics and action by UN agencies and regional organizations, with an emphasis on the law of international human rights.

Part III turns to the analytical context in which forced displacement has to be interpreted. The interrelationship of forced displacement and international security, the role of the European human rights enforcement system as well as the potential of NGOs in transitional societies to protect and assist the displaced will be explored with reference to lessons learnt from past conflicts both inside and outside of Europe.

Part IV looks at the forced migrant as an individual confronting the receiving society. Myths about threats posed by the displaced will be explored with sociological investigations of the actual benefits and burdens for the individual and receiving society. This includes psychosocial perspectives of the refugee experience.

The last day of the course summarizes the lessons of the previous two weeks in the form of a role-playing simulation emulating concrete conflicts.  Students and faculty  will draw upon the course to better understand (and search for alternatives concerning) problems leading to forced displacement.

In order to enhance the policy relevance and practical application of the course, afternoon sessions will include presentations by expert commentators from the region, as well as meetings with senior officials and other important actors in the Hungarian refugee field. Consultations on curriculum development will be available to participants.


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