Student artwork on migration
Main Image for Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education

Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education

In response to the unprecedented acceleration of forced migration throughout the world due to war, persecution, poverty, and climate change, Bard (Annandale and Berlin), Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, and Vassar colleges joined forces in early 2016 to found the Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement and Education (CFMDE). While governments, NGOs, religious relief agencies, and tech innovators across the globe have devised an array of specific—and sometimes conflicting—responses to forced migration, we came together because we believe that institutions of higher learning can and must have a different, but equally vital, focus. Given the unresolved (and interrelated) challenges of climate change, global inequality, technological innovation, and war, forced migration will continue to increase and its implications, we believe, will dominate global politics as well as domestic debates for decades to come. As institutions of higher learning we are uniquely positioned to drawn on our robust local, national, and international educational and cultural networks to prepare our students for a deeper, more nuanced understanding of forced migration and displacement. Indeed, the coming era of human movement will, without doubt, challenge our existing national and global institutions, and our students must be able to respond to these challenges with intelligence, compassion, and ingenuity.

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Project description

The CFMDE is dedicated to creating an innovative and shared migration studies curriculum. Our consortium uses the terms “forced migration” and “displacement” in the broadly inclusive sense to capture the range of people compelled to leave their homes. It is not limited to legal categories that privilege a particular “objective” determination of legitimate reasons to flee. Rather, it is deliberately intended to enable challenges to the legal or objective definitions and to rethink established categories. This intellectual work will go hand‐in‐hand with our efforts, as a consortium, to forge new relationships and asymmetrical co‐operations both within our own communities and around the world, and to develop our consortium’s public identity in order to attract new connections and share the ideas and practices we will develop as our initiative matures.

We came together because we believe that our students, given the scope of global forced migration, need opportunities to engage with this pressing global challenge during, not just after, their undergraduate education. Early exposure to refugee knowledges helps students develop as well‐educated, engaged leaders primed to pursue graduate studies or professional careers in the field. It is also crucial that these future leaders develop an historically informed and geographically comprehensive understanding of migration. Being able to draw on migrant knowledges and understand the historical conditions and current connections between migration taking place in different parts of the globe will allow students to respond to migration’s challenges in a truly innovative, forward‐looking manner instead of falling back on the standard assumptions and policies of their own national context.

CFMDE at Bard College Berlin

As a result of CFMDE funding, Bard College Berlin will be able to enhance its innovative curriculum in migration studies in a number of key ways. We are: bringing in faculty expertise on the Middle East and North Africa region in addition to developing new and expanding on-going courses on migration more widely; helping students across consortium campuses connect with each other in their classes and develop sound-related research and activism projects in a new transnational classroom and media lab; and creating a roster of events bringing students and the wider BCB community into contact with relevant experts, NGOs and community groups, artists and newcomer communities. These changes will enhance the consortium as a whole since Bard College Berlin serves as a key study-abroad site for CFMDE students, who can participate in a new semester study track called "Migration Perspectives."


Courses including the following were developed as part of this grant:
  • Europe’s “Others”: Race, Racialization and the Visual Politics of Representation Expand for Europe’s “Others”: Race, Racialization and the Visual Politics of Representation
  • Postcolonial Politics: The Middle East and Beyond Expand for Postcolonial Politics: The Middle East and Beyond
  • A Lexicon of Migration Expand for A Lexicon of Migration
  • History and Memory: Forced Migration from Nineteenth to Twenty-First-Century Germany  Expand for History and Memory: Forced Migration from Nineteenth to Twenty-First-Century Germany 
  • Migration and Exile. Journeys in Imperial Space  Expand for Migration and Exile. Journeys in Imperial Space 
  • Introduction to Comparative Politics of the Middle East Expand for Introduction to Comparative Politics of the Middle East


Events including the following were organized with CFMDE funding:

CFMDE is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

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