Lebanon is now home to over a million refugees from the war in Syria, including tens of thousands of displaced university students and young people unable to attend school because of the war. “This is the humanitarian disaster of our time,” says Keith David Watenpaugh, a historian of the Middle East and Associate Professor of Religious Studies who directs ongoing research with the UC Davis Human Rights Initiative. Watenpaugh will discuss some of his recent work in Lebanon at the 4th Annual UC Davis Spring Human Rights Symposium that will take place at the International House in Davis on May 9th and 10th.
Watenpaugh and his research team recently visited several refugee neighborhoods in Lebanon, where educators and university students who oppose the Assad regime are trying their best to educate younger members of the Syrian refugee population. Often using Lebanese classrooms after hours, refugee children at “second shift” schools receive perhaps the only education available to them. “Working with Carnegie and the Institute of International Education is playing the leading international role in understanding the problem of refugee students and identifying ways to help them,” said Watenpaugh.
The Human Rights Symposium will be held in conjunction with the Multicampus Research Group UC Human Rights Collaboration, directed by Watenpaugh (UC Davis), Alison Brysk (UC Santa Barbara), Bronwyn Leebaw (UC Riverside), and Gershon Shafir (UC San Diego). Each year, the event, sponsored by the UC Humanities Research Institute and the UC Davis Humanities Institute, brings together University of California faculty and graduate students to share and produce research.
Friday evening, Watenpaugh and Adrienne Fricke will present the keynote address, “The War Follows Them: Syrian Refugee Students in Lebanon.” The talk will focus on the results of their research into conditions facing Syrian refugee university students in Lebanon, a project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Institute of International Education, the Scholar Rescue Fund, University Outreach and International Programs and the Davis Sunrise Rotary Club.
In addition to the keynote, Saturday’s symposium will feature papers by faculty and graduate students from across the UC system. Four panels will present on issues relating to Humanitarianism, Law and Citizenship, Indigeneity, and Memory, Identity, and Culture.