Equipping Student Leaders as Partners for Sustainable Humanitarian Action is a conference that will bring together a creative combination of researchers, student and staff delegates from universities and colleges, and representatives of major multilateral organizations such as UNHCR, UNESCO, the World Bank, the Open Society Foundations, and the Open Society University Network. Significantly, participants will come not just from North America and Europe, but from institutions across the Global South, because diversity of perspective and experience is essential to conference outcomes. The conference will provide a valuable opportunity for researchers to network with student delegates already engaged in humanitarian action, and to build relationships that may facilitate future research projects. Alongside research paper presentations there will also be moderated conversations and workshops for student/staff delegates to engage directly with the research presented. Conference outcomes will include:
· A deeper understanding of the role that universities and colleges in different parts of the world must play at a time of ever-increasing humanitarian crises.
· Competency-based training for student leaders organizing and leading the conference.
· Action Plans for student-led humanitarian initiatives informed by up-to-date research to be presented by delegates to their home institutions.
· A Special Section of peer-reviewed papers on students as partners in humanitarian action in the International Journal for Students as Partners.
· Publication of papers that concentrate on higher education and humanitarian action, particularly student-led initiatives.
· A Framework for Partnership through Education that will provide recommendations for how higher education institutions can develop course-based programming to support sustainable student-led initiatives.
· A formal Declaration calling on the Canadian Government to take the global lead in supporting higher education in emergencies.
As we face an increasing number of humanitarian crises leading to forced displacement and an unprecedented number of refugees throughout the world…
How can universities and colleges effectively partner with students and equip them to be catalysts for impactful and sustainable humanitarian action throughout the world?
At a time of ever-increasing state fragility, conflict and violence around the world, there is
an unprecedented number of displaced people and refugees. The UNHCR is at the forefront of efforts to support them, but the challenge is enormous and we must mobilize all sectors of society in countries both near and far from conflicts to help this vulnerable population meet their own needs. In recent years, the UNHCR has recognized the importance of ensuring access to higher education for refugees, and it has supported the founding of the Tertiary Refugee Student Network (TRSN) by refugee students committed to innovative approaches to this challenge. This commitment this has brought both the UNHCR and the TRSN into conversation with universities that share similar concerns. One of these is Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, home to the internationally-recognized, student-run and student-funded International Students Overcoming War (ISOW) scholarship program.
Together these parties recognize that student leadership in partnership with universities and colleges will be critical to sustained humanitarian action if there are to be successful solutions to growing humanitarian crises today. Students bring a unique combination of perspective, knowledge and commitment that can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and open up the very real possibility of effective social action. The institutions of higher education where they study have resources and experience that are equally valuable, not least the opportunity to cultivate student skills and knowledge through targeted experiential learning. However, to succeed, both students and institutions must work together in trusting, mutually-respectful partnerships grounded in the fundamental mission of higher education to raise up future generations of capable leaders informed by a knowledgeable and compassionate approach to the world around them.
(Subject to Change)
Files coming soon.