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U.S. Refugee Policy & Localities (330-0-20)


Galya Benarieh Ruffer
Office Hours:
Galya Ben-Arieh, J.D. ,Ph.D., is Professor of Instruction in Political Science. Her teaching and research center on the rights and processes of refugee protection and the role of law in settlement and inclusion in host societies and comparative constitutional theory and transformation. During her 12 years at Northwestern she has directed the International Studies Program (2008-2015), creating the IS Honors Program and the Global Café. An international expert in refugee studies, Ben-Arieh (also known as Galya Ruffer), founded and directed the Center for Forced Migration Studies (CFMS) which was housed at the Buffett Institute from 2011-2018. She is now continuing this work through the development of a Refugee Knowledge Hub, a community-based partnership providing leadership, knowledge and support for refugees and asylees in our community.

Meeting Info

Kresge Centennial Hall 3-410: Mon, Wed 2:00PM - 3:20PM

Overview of class

We will study how the U.S. 1980 Refugee Act, a national policy premised on human rights obligations in the 1951 International Convention for the Protection of Refugee and 1967 Protocol, meets the street in Chicago neighborhoods and other localities in the United States. The course introduces students to the study and practice of refugee policy - legislative process that produces statutory law, the major theories, techniques, and issues of modern legislation and statutory interpretation by both courts and administrative agencies, the role and authority of administrative agencies, how federal regulations intersect with regulations, guidance and policies at in states and localities. We will consider what local understandings of refugee policy can teach us about the meaning of integration as part of broader discourses on constitutional governance, federalism and civil society. We will also look comparatively at the refugee policy of other countries to consider alternative perspectives, policies and ideologies. Through these explorations, students will gain insight into the complexities of refugee policy and, more specifically, asylum and refugee resettlement as a durable solution for refugees seeking protection. Students will gain exposure to discourse and narrative policy analysis, analyze data and have a chance to conduct archival research on localities.

(Taught with POLI_SCI 330-0-20)

Learning Objectives

-By engaging with primary and secondary sources on refugee policies in liberal democracies, students will gain perspective on the different ways in which governance of human rights obligations and norms take shape in national and local institutions.

-By conducting a political discourse and narrative policy analysis students will develop skills in critical thinking and primary source analysis.

-By conducting research students will develop skills of designing, planning and producing research and qualitative interpretive methodology.

Through active participation in class and reflection on the readings, students will cultivate meaningful modes of engagement to advance learning.

Evaluation Method

Presentations: 20%
Papers: 60%
Writing assignments: 20%

Class Materials (Required)

The main book that we will read is Eric Tang (2015) Unsettled: Cambodian Refugees in the NYC Hypergetto (Temple University Press) (ebook available on Canvas)

Class Attributes

Social & Behavioral Sciences Distro Area