Activation of Online Support to Refugees in Camps and in Diaspora
The Network is building on the above described on-line connections, its digital library and its national and international links with research centres and universities, to enable refugees in camps and outside of camps to access portable university/college degree programs. These will be degree programs that refugees can complete no matter where they are located (using web-based courses, internet, video-conferencing, etc), as long as they have access to a computer. Initially, York University will take the lead in securing access to degree programs, in partnership with universities in the regions of various refugee camps, whenever possible. The support of UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP will be sought and financial support will be required from various foundations. Course provision will be initially in English, but will expand to other languages, as partners in other parts of Canada (Quebec) and internationally, become involved. We also propose the establishment of an international linkage of undergraduate and graduate degree programs concerning refugee studies, forced migration, resettlement, immigration and citizenship, and the establishment of exchange programs between universities in the Global South and North. There has been an explosion of online interaction within diasporic and refugee communities (Native on the Net, 2006). However, there is little cross-community interaction on issues of common concern and there are few online mechanisms that allow for the direct interaction of refugees with academics. The Refugee Research Network will develop an online mechanism that will: i) serve to amplify the individual/community voices of refugees and others dealing directly with displacement through the posting of artistic works (such as poetry, short stories, visual art,) and blogging; ii) facilitate cross-community discussions on common themes, issues, and experiences; and iii) provide mechanisms for individuals and communities to engage directly with academic researchers. Rather than create such a mechanism anew, we will follow the model, “Global Voices”, developed by Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Their site www.globalvoicesonline.org is an outstanding example of interconnectivity as it provides a form of meta-blogging, or “bridge blogging”, where a global network of blogger-editors provide daily or weekly linkages between individual blogs around specific themes and/or regions.
The latest RRN developments can be seen in the Tertiary Education Cluster.