Seeking Justice, Seeking Hope

Refugee Resettlement Campuses and Transformative Pedagogy in Higher Education


  • Sonalini Sapra Guilford College
  • Christian Matheis
  • Diya Abdo



Refugee Resettlement, Community Engaged Learning, Place Based Pedagogy


This article focuses on place-based pedagogy developed in partnership with Every Campus A Refuge (ECAR) at Guilford College, which is the first initiative of its kind to mobilize college and university campus resources to provide housing and other forms of assistance to refugees seeking resettlement in the institution’s local area (within and beyond the institution’s physical borders). ECAR is transforming refugee resettlement in the United States as it also transforms our understanding and teaching about the issues faced by these communities, and the role of post-secondary educational institutions. Through ECAR’s commitment to “compassionate hospitality and radical accountability” (Every Campus A Refuge, n.d.), campuses undergo transformations that blur the boundaries between campus and community and redefine the notion of “place” for students and community members. This paper outlines the main place-based curricular components of the ECAR and Principled Problem Solving initiative at Guilford College. We present an analysis of survey data collected from students who participated in the curriculum, and analyze their responses. This data indicate that the academic program’s place-based pedagogy 1)  provides students opportunities to learn about what forced displacement is and why it happens; 2) centralizes the voice, agency, and perspectives of the individuals who experience forced migration and resettlement; 3) emphasizes how we can collectively organize and advocate to address the problems of forced displacement and resettlement. In this way, the minor is helping students engage in the work of principled problem-solving in refugee resettlement through specialized course offerings and place-based pedagogy. The paper concludes with challenges and opportunities for campuses interested in adopting this place-based campus refugee resettlement program for their colleges/universities, as well as discuss pathways for further research and pedagogical innovation.



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