Lemke keynote addresses child and youth (dis)placement
“There is an estimated 65.3 million people forcibly displaced globally … half are children and youth … this is staggering.”
Melinda Lemke, assistant professor
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy
Graduate School of Education
In spring 2017, Lemke is offering a new course—ELP 684)—on youth exploitation, trafficking and (dis)placement, open to graduate students in education, as well as fields such as gender studies, social work and law.
Melinda Lemke, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, gave an invited keynote lecture at the international conference, Children Displaced Across Borders: Bridging Policy, Practice and Disciplinary Approaches to Further Human Rights (CDAB), held by Swansea University (United Kingdom) and the University of Houston (UH). The title of her keynote was “Addressing Child and Youth (Dis)placement: Some Reflections on Research, Policy, and Practice.”
As part of the steering committee and former postdoctoral research associate at Swansea University, Lemke worked with Jane Williams and Drs. Sergei Shubin and Tracey Maegusuku-Hewett of Swansea University to build conceptual and structural aspects of the CDAB lecture series and conference.
Swansea University held an earlier spring 2016 guest lecture series featuring Lemke’s work, alongside other education policy, social work, legal and migration studies scholar-practitioners.
The CDAB conference was designed to allow comparative analyses of the current condition of forcibly-displaced children and respective policy and programmatic responses within Western Asian-Europe and Northern Triangle-Mexico-United States geographic regions. The conference also brought together scholar-practitioners from multiple fields to problematize how to better embed child rights within policy and practice in the short-term, and research and theory in the long-term.
A webinar format utilized for part of the conference permitted joint panels of Swansea and UH faculty and practitioners to dialogue with each other, as well as take audience questions in real time from either side of the Atlantic. Images and live tweets from the two-day event provide a window into the innovative online format utilized.
Lemke commented on the event:
“As last reported by UNHCR (2015), there is an estimated 65.3 million people forcibly displaced globally—this is staggering. On this side of the Atlantic, women, their families and thousands of unaccompanied minors have sought refuge at the U.S.-Mexico border from abject poverty, corrupt politics and violence in the Northern Triangle nations of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. This movement both within and across the U.S. borderland region speaks nothing of increased numbers of refugees in certain parts of the U.S., including right here at home in Buffalo, and those detained in conditions antithetical to human rights, or who represent swelling ranks of the ‘left behind.’
“Indeed, world policy leaders have turned an eye toward both humanitarian crises—though on the one hand, a substantial gap appears between protections in law and policy, and on the other, how media-driven coverage and institutional structures affect what is implemented in practice. This seeming abyss is complicated by rapidly evolving needs on the ground and inadequate or missing public sector knowledge, including that in education. As found in my research on human trafficking and prevention through education, normatively held beliefs about already marginal populations also can operationalize in ways, which despite good intentions, actually pathologize those most in need of assistance. Clearly, there are no easy answers. Yet, understanding issue linkages and policy cleavages, beginning inter-institutional dialogue, and strengthening connections between scholarship and practice are essential steps we must take. Half of those currently displaced are children and youth—they are students.”
Lemke invites comments and questions regarding the conference or future research collaboration. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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