Wednesday 29 January 2020


Who are refugees? Where do they come from, and where do they go? How does the international community respond to refugee crises caused by war, environmental disasters and other factors, and how do we find global solutions to help those who are forcibly displaced? One of the most complex, compelling and arguably misunderstood features of today’s world, the refugee phenomenon is the focus of our new free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Refugees in the 21st Century, developed by the School of Advanced Study’s Refugee Law Initiative.

“Often, media attention is focused on refugees that travel from the Global South to the Global North”, says Dr Sarah Singer, a senior lecturer at the RLI, who has led on developing the course and is one of its tutors. “In actual fact, the overwhelming majority of the world’s refugees – more than 85% – are hosted in the Global South.

“For example, Lebanon hosts nearly one million refugees from neighbouring Syria – nearly a fifth of its total population, and as many refugees who entered the whole of Europe during the refugee crisis of 2015.” In offering this free, open-access course, the RLI aims to provide valuable public information by dispelling myths surrounding refugees and providing a forum for discussion.

Over the six weeks of the course, Dr Singer and Professor David Cantor, the RLI’s director, guide students through different aspects of the refugee phenomenon, from examining facts and statistics surrounding forced migration flows to engaging with current debates on how refugees are defined. Each week’s topic – designed to take approximately 4–6 hours of self-study – is delivered via short video lectures and reading materials from journal articles to the latest UN reports, with online discussion groups enabling students to explore these materials together.

As with our other MOOCs, students can begin at any time, and work through the material at a pace that suits them. No prior knowledge or experience in the field is required – the course will benefit anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding of refugees in the 21st century, offering a comprehensive, thought-provoking introduction to this complex global issue.

Register here for Refugees in the 21st Century