Paper: Stepping Lightly? The challenges and benefits of student encounters with refugees in Jordan

Paper details

Paper authors Jason Hart, Katharina Lenner
In panel on Student “field trips” in humanitarian studies–a roadmap for “do no harm”
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


As part of the 'blended learning' MSc in Humanitarianism, Conflict & Development at the University of Bath students undertake a field trip to Jordan. They visit displacement camps, talk with refugees of different nationalities, engage in dialogue with, inter alia, donors, host government representatives, UN staff, and workers at national and neighbourhood organisations. They also hear from locally-based academics and explore aspects of the cultural life of different refugee national communities. In this presentation we discuss the conditions that have enabled this trip. A fundamental enabling factor is the long-standing engagement in research in Jordan of the leaders, both of whom are academics at Bath. We also discuss the ethical and practical challenges encountered. These include the challenge of avoiding disaster tourism, and the obstacles to obtaining visas for students from the global South. Student feedback consistently indicates that this is a profoundly formative activity: a chance to connect classroom learning with realities encountered on the ground. However, what is the impact for locals involved, particularly refugees? And is such a programme sustainable, both in its own terms and with consideration for climate change? The presentation reflects (self)-critically on these questions.