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How has history shaped who is recognised as a refugee? What moral duties do we have toward refugees? What effects do our conceptions, policies, laws and practices have on the lives of refugees? How will the legal status of 'refugee' need to change in the future? This interdisciplinary subject seeks answers to these and related questions by combining historical, medical, and ethical approaches.
From a historical perspective, we’ll look at the evolution of our conception of refugees through the ages, and the impact of refugees on Australian society and culture since WW2. From a medical perspective, we’ll investigate the health conditions affecting refugees through the different steps of migration, and whether mass migration could contribute to the spread and globalization of health risks. From an ethical perspective, we’ll examine whether a right to preserve a national culture, language, and way of life can legitimate refugee selection criteria, and a requirement of cultural integration as a part of resettlement.
In the final part of this subject, we’ll integrate these different perspectives to explore two of our most important ethical challenges: immigration detention and future climate refugees. How did Australia come to adopt its current detention policy, what are its health costs, and is on-shore and off-shore detention while processing asylum morally permissible? How does climate change migration challenge our post-WW2 understanding of refugees and their rights to protection? How do the issues of poverty and climate change intersect to produce new waves of mass migration, and what are Australia's obligations when it comes to responding to that challenge?
Intended learning outcomes
Students that successfully complete this subject should be able to:
- Analyse and provide empirically informed and ethically sound responses to complex issues such as climate change migration and offshore refugee processing;
- Integrate historical, medical, and ethical perspectives in addressing one of the most important moral and social challenges facing Australia and the world in the 21st century;
- Assess the humanitarian obligations Australians have in response to the plight of conflict, climate, and poverty facing refugees and migrants.
On completion of the subject, students should be able to:
- Think critically and organize knowledge
- Derive, interpret and analyse information from primary and secondary sources
- Demonstrate both written and oral communication skills
- Participate in a discussion group and develop a cogent argument to support a particular position
- Participate effectively as a member of a team
- Plan work and use time effectively
Last updated: 24 June 2022