Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education

Dear all,

I hope everyone had a nice October break. I met a lot of alums in Seattle, Denver, and DC, and am glad to be back on our arboretum with the gorgeous trees changing color.

I am writing today with wonderful news about an exciting collaboration we are undertaking to respond to the worldwide crisis of forced migration. With Vassar as the lead institution, a group of four colleges has received a $2.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to form a Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education. Our Consortium partners are Bard College, Bennington College, and Sarah Lawrence College.

The grant will make it possible for the Consortium to develop a shared curriculum that educates students about forced migration and displacement, explores solutions, and empowers students to take thoughtful action. We are confident that this effort will harness the energy and ideas of all four colleges’ students and faculty, as well as involving nearby high school students and other residents through community-engaged courses and other community projects. By uniting our campuses, we can achieve a critical mass of dedicated professors and students to share ideas, develop best practices, and generate innovation and momentum beyond what each institution could achieve on its own.

Work on this ambitious project began in 2016 with a $135,000 planning grant from the Mellon Foundation and a $20,000 grant for a workshop supported by the Alliance for the Advancement of Liberal Arts Colleges. The work continues this weekend when representatives of all four colleges will meet on our campus to finalize details for an introductory class, “Lexicon of Forced Migration,” to be taught at all four colleges. Pending approval by the faculty, Vassar will offer the course this spring. Faculty and students from Consortium schools, study abroad directors, grants officers, registrars, as well as representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland and the recently launched University Alliance for Refugees & At Risk Migrants will participate. Local high school teachers and some of their students will also attend.

One of the primary responsibilities of a liberal arts college is to prepare students for the global challenges they will face after they graduate. This generous grant from the Mellon Foundation will enable our students and faculty to collaborate with those at Bard, Sarah Lawrence, and Bennington in a unique and comprehensive way in examining one of the world’s most vital issues.

I am most thankful to Maria Höhn, Professor of History on the Marion Musser Lloyd ’32 Chair, for engaging with fellow Consortium colleges and for taking the lead in preparing and securing this grant, for which she will be the Principal Investigator. Please join me in congratulating her! Thanks are also due to Anish Kanoria ’18, the co-founder of Vassar Refugee Solidarity; Matthew Brill-Carlat ’19, the current Consortium student leader; Alisa Swire ’84, who was a key adviser in the preparation of the grant proposal; and John Bradley, who provided valuable assistance to Prof. Höhn as she prepared the proposal.

Congratulations to all!

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604