Course Spotlight

KHC HC 302: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Global Challenges – Forced Displacement

Kilachand’s curriculum offers students two courses focused on interdisciplinary perspectives on global challenges (HC301 & HC302). These team-taught courses invite students to discuss and propose solutions to major global challenges, from climate change to forced displacement to political systems. Opportunities for experiential learning are connected to the curriculum, allowing students to explore the impact of their work outside of the classroom.

As an international relations major, I took a number of classes on forced displacement before HC302. Despite having some background information, the interdisciplinary nature of the course extended my knowledge! Addressing humanitarian solutions from so many perspectives led me to rethink what I already knew about forced displacement. Thanks to this course, I have become even more interested in migration, leading me to intern with UNHCR.
Bridgette Lang (Pardee’23)


HC 302 Faculty:

Professors Carrie Preston and Muhammad Zaman lead the faculty team for KHC HC 302. 

HC 302 Course Description:

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 79.5 million people had been forcibly displaced from their homes by wars and persecution at the end of 2019. This includes those who are living in camps and those who are in urban areas, those who are in another country and those who are displaced within their own country. Fewer and fewer displaced persons are able to return home or resettle safely in other countries, creating a protracted humanitarian disaster. Some live in camps or other makeshift dwellings for decades.

What disciplines and methodologies will help us understand this global challenge? Do we need the same tools to study the refugee crisis stemming from civil wars in Syria and South Sudan, persecution in Myanmar, and economic disaster in Venezuela? How do we understand the protracted displacement and statelessness of Palestinians, the internally displaced people of Yemen, or the historical displacement and ongoing trauma of indigenous peoples? What about the recently emerging category those who are displaced due to climate change and environmental degradation? Who should bear responsibility for the welfare of refugees: nation states, NGOs, international institutions like the UNHCR, or other groups? Which efforts by which groups have been effective? How does our understanding of home, identity, and belonging impact our understanding of forced displacement?

A premise of this course is that even a basic understanding of the challenges of forced displacement requires interdisciplinary study, and the most effective solutions are developed by teams bringing insights from different fields. Our faculty team includes experts in engineering and health, anthropology and education, gender and cultural studies, international relations, political science and indigenous studies. None of us are experts in every discipline, and faculty and students alike will all have to stretch ourselves and embrace new challenges in this course. By working in interdisciplinary teams and pooling your skills, you will develop a deeper understanding of one of the major global challenges and ethical imperatives of our time. By the end of the course, you will present an intervention or policy recommendation for a specific refugee population.

HC 302 Syllabi:

Course Syllabus
Section Syllabus – Professor Muhammad Zaman
Section Syllabus – Professor Carrie Preston

In the News

BU Today – “POV: The Importance of Teaching and Learning about Afghan Refugees” September 20, 2021
Muhammad Zaman and Carrie Preston discuss the current situation regarding Afghan refugees and why faculty and students must address the ongoing humanitarian crisis brought on by forced displacement. Read the full article here.

Open Campus Media: latitude(s) – “Afghan crisis edition” August 23, 2021
Muhammad Zaman and Carrie Preston discuss teaching about displacement, why it’s important to bring current events into the classroom, and the value of taking an interdisciplinary approach. Read the full article here.

IN CONVERSATION: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Global Challenges II

Professor Carrie Preston and junior Susritha Kopparapu (CAS ’22) reflect on teaching and learning in the course KHC 302: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Global Challenges II, in which students examine the global crisis of forced displacement.