Students Study Global Population Displacement in Berlin

Faculty; Public Health; Social Work; Students

This month, 15 Brown School students studied Germany’s response to an increase in refugee populations. Through this unique global course in Berlin,—Refugee Empowerment, Physical Activity and Urban Development— led by Professor of Practice Heather Cameron, students learned about the challenges facing public health, social work and social policy in regards to global population displacement. Germany has become the primary destination in Europe for asylum-seekers, receiving over a million applications in the last three years largely from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

To deepen their understanding of refugee and migrant populations, students had the opportunity to collaborate with local organizations in the social service and government sectors through on-site visits and panel discussions. They learned about providing adequate healthcare and housing for refugees, creating cohesive and inclusive communities, and implementing innovative social strategies for overall integration of this population.

After a visit to the German Aids Foundation in which students learned about community participation and program evaluation, Brown School MSW student Roxy Lawrence reflected on her experience: “It has been really amazing and I’ve learned so much from this visit. I think this will be something I take with me back to the U.S. and use in my work. “

“This class gave me a breadth of information, which touched upon all contributors to health behavior and health outcomes for the refugee population. We had access into multiple agencies and programs within German society—fromhospitals, to grassroots programs, to the parliament,” said Brown School MSW/MPH student Julia Hughes, who will remain in Berlin for a global practicum placement.

Cameron, the Michael B. Kaufman Professor of Practice in Social Entrepreneurship, has lived and worked in Berlin: She started a social and community enterprise called Boxgirls to empower young girls in its inner city neighborhoods through boxing.  She hopes that after this Brown School Berlin experience, her students will “see what a different policy framework can make possible and push for bolder ideas for program and policy development back at home.”