SicilyWeek-Long Study Tour | Justice & Human Rights Program

Required Course(s)
Fleeing Across Borders: International Refugee Law
Fall/Spring semester

On the frontier between Europe and North Africa, Sicily has been a focal point within global border politics. It became the main European gateway for asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa beginning in 2014, after which political tensions and calls for external support from the EU increased dramatically.

During this study tour in and around Palermo, Sicily, you get a first-hand look at the causes and consequences of the refugee crisis in Sicily. We will investigate the responses of both state and non-state actors, including local politicians, border authorities, and NGOs. Students will also speak to migrants and refugees who have worked through the legal systems and learn more about how these migrant communities are shaping the political, social, and cultural identity of the island today.

Tour Objectives

  • Map the longer refugee journeys that culminate in irregular arrival by sea and interrogate the broader social, political, economic, and climate factors that precipitate and structure those journeys
  • Explain, analyze, and discuss contemporary European refugee policy concerning the irregular arrival of refugees by sea and explore the dynamics of politicization of migration in Sicily today
  • Reflect on the role played by local refugee support groups, international organizations, and NGOs in constructing and contesting the contemporary European border regime
  • Gain a new perspective on the lived experience of refugees in Sicily

Possible Activities

  • Meet with local politicians
  • Learn about the work of NGOs working in the region to support refugees
  • Walking tour to experience Palermo from a migrant perspective