Listen to an episode featuring Bernhard Streitwieser:

Scholar-Practitioners in Higher Education

Refugee Access to Education

by Bernhard Streitwieser
Associate Professor of International Education & International Affairs
George Washington University

I offer five recommendations relevant to my own scholarship and teaching on educational access for refugees and at-risk migrants.

First, the interview with Anatoly Oleksiyenko (War and Education in Ukraine) details the tragedy behind upwards of five million currently displaced Ukrainians and poses questions about the internal treatment of international students vis-a-vis domestic Ukrainians, among other realities. Particularly important, Oleksiyenko explains how the conflict has created the (im)possibility of scholarly relations with Russia until it acknowledges its history of colonization and genocide as the only possible path to reconciliation. Of all the destruction the war is causing, repairing human relations will be among the most intractable challenges.

Second, I recommend Brad Blitz’s episode, Focus on Afghanistan, which sheds light on those left behind in Afghanistan when the Taliban returned. Blitz’s discussion of inter-institutional partnerships is helpful and sobering at a time when the rhetoric from higher education institutions touting humanity and charity often feels empty.

Third, I suggest Rosalie Metro’s episode, Navigating Education and Conflict in Burma and Beyond. Her discussion is insightful for more deeply understanding Southeast Asia’s ongoing refugee crisis. Metro’s nuanced discussion of education both as a tool for tolerance and as a weapon for war and social division is critically important for students to understand.

Fourth, Mary Mendenhall’s interview, Building Evidence on Education in Emergencies, explains “education in emergencies” (EiE) and challenges around data access and reliability, which data from international agencies is most needed, and how data can be used responsibly. Mendenhall also discusses the unique strengths of quantitative and qualitative data in EiE studies, the role of technology and its ethical implications for displaced populations, and ongoing challenges around cross-border credit verification. All of these issues resonate deeply with my students new to the study of education and migration.

Fifth, Sarah Dryden-Peterson’s 2017 podcast, Portraying Refugee Education (among other important discussions she has contributed), is particularly useful for contextualizing the overarching scale of refugee disbursement and the potential for so-called “durable solutions.” She addresses the challenges of protracted exile, language learning, understanding the host system, and maintaining contact with home. She concludes with a discussion of four models for integration into national systems and related potentials and pitfalls.

Present-day refugee and migration crises threaten to stretch indefinitely. Past crises we think are over cause untold and lasting trauma. Students of migration and refugee studies will learn from this selection of episodes the broad contours of displacement and gain insights from experts that would otherwise take years in the field to acquire.

March 1, 2023