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CFMDE Initiative Launches New Digital Scholars Teaching Fellowship

The Mellon Foundation-funded Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education (CFMDE) responds to the ongoing global challenges posed by forced migration, through curriculum development, sponsoring collaborative research, and supporting displaced scholars across four college campuses: Vassar, Bard, Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, and The New School. The CFMDE is committed to the development and institutionalization of dynamic engaged learning initiatives, conferences, lecture series, teaching labs and more. Maria Höhn, Professor Emerita of History, spearheaded the CFMDE by securing the Mellon Foundation grants that funded the consortium, and guided the initiative over six years. Since 2022, Kirsten Wesselhoeft, Assistant Professor of Religion, has filled the role of Director of the CFMDE.

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This past year Vassar successfully launched its new signature program, the Digital Scholars Teaching Fellowship program, which pairs displaced scholars (teaching virtually) with Vassar faculty members (teaching in person). In 2022, Vassar faculty connected with six scholars—an Iranian political scientist and Afghan political scientist, a Turkish scholar of gender and politics, a Ukrainian journalist and scholar of media studies, a Syrian scholar of sociology, and a Yemeni poet and scholar of gender. Two scholars completed their teaching fellowships in 2022, the rest will continue or start their teaching engagements in a variety of courses in 2023.

Feedback from host professors, guest lecturers, and students has been overwhelmingly positive. One participating faculty member, who hosted two Digital Scholars, noted that “Both scholars spoke about their own intellectual journeys, beginning with childhood experiences and weaving their way up through undergraduate and graduate studies that took them away from their homelands […]. This combining of the more traditional research presentation with the personal narrative was particularly effective, allowing students to connect with the scholars on a personal level as well.”

March 9, 2023
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