Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Social and Curricular Inclusion in Refugee Education: Critical Approaches to Education Advocacy

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Abstract:  Recognizing refugee students, families, and communities as a source of knowledge and social change, this article offers two case studies of innovative, deliberative, and labor‐intensive practices toward meaningful social inclusion of refugee parents and students in education. The first example focuses on the multiyear effort by the Parent‐Student‐Resident Organization (PSRO) in San Diego, California, an education advocacy group organized and led by local parents to institutionalize social inclusion programs for refugees and other systemically excluded students. The second example analyzes the Refugee Teaching Institute in Merced, California, organized with the Critical Refugee Studies Collective (CRSC), to work with teachers to create a refugee‐centered curriculum. In both case studies, organizers depart from deficit models of refugee education by foregrounding student and parent empowerment and bringing together diverse stakeholders to generate and implement a shared vision for teaching and learning. Through sharing insights glimpsed from participant observation and extended conversations with participants in each case study, this article shifts the reference point in refugee education from that of school authorities to that of refugees themselves. Through reflecting on the challenges of effecting systemic change, we argue for a model of educational transformation that is ongoing, intentionally collaborative, and cumulative.

Keywords:  critical refugee studies; cultural humility; curricular inclusion; refugee education advocacy; refugee teaching; social inclusion; systems change



© Alexandra Greene, Yến Lê Espiritu, Dan Nyamangah. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.