08.06.2017

Kerry Bystrom and Marion Detjen on collaboration in refugee education (EuropeNow)


The essay "Collaboration in Refugee Education: Field Notes from Bard College Berlin" written by faculty members Kerry Bystrom and Marion Detjen recently appeared in a special issue on “Sustainability & Innovation” of the online journal EuropeNow, published by the Council for European Studies at Columbia University. 

In the essay, Bystrom and Detjen reflect on the importance of collaboration in setting up and developing the Program in International Education and Social Change (PIE-SC), which enables college-aged refugees to join BCB’s international student body and pursue a BA on full scholarships made possible by private donors. Bystrom reflects: “This was an experiment in opening up our classrooms. We knew that hosting students from Syria and other crisis regions would necessitate changes in our classrooms and more widely, if we wanted to avoid replicating the “assimilation” model so roundly critiqued by migrant rights activists. In practice this has meant different things at different times, from educating ourselves as a faculty to validating unconventional forms of knowledge and experimenting with course meeting structures and assignments. Not wanting to confine education to the relatively small number of students for whom we were able to raise full scholarships, the College also sought ways to open up learning opportunities to wider migrant communities.”

The special issue “Sustainability & Innovation,” edited by Nicole Shea (Council for European Studies) and Maria Höhn (Vassar College), is dedicated to institutions whose mission is to defend democratic values and shared cultural heritage.