19 June 2013

Game-based Learning, Human Rights, and Displaced Persons

The UNHCR released a report this morning, highlighting the increasingly desperate state of affairs for refugees and IDPs around the world. Specifically, the UNHCR documented some 45,200,000 persons who are living outside of their homes as a result of forced migration; and these numbers do not count those displaced by the violence in Syria. Armed conflict remains the most common reason for people to flee their homes. In addition, the UNHCR report documents that developing countries are increasingly hosting the majority of refugees around the world. This fact has consequences for world politics insofar that these countries are less financially- and institutionally-equipped to support major flows of refugees than developed countries. Such situations can also exacerbate existing economic and identity-based cleavages in these societies, lessening the potential for sustained socioeconomic development and increasing the likelihood for intrastate violence amongst different groups.

[updated] The Smithsonian posted this very cool interactive map on the 50 most populated refugee camps around the world. NPR has also picked up this story today. There's nothing new in the story content, but NPR's photo of children scavenging for food and resources in a garbage dump is haunting:

While graphs and pictures certainly present one side of the refugee and IDP issue, they are not simply enough to truly appreciate the plight of displaced persons around the world. Thankfully, there are some great games that allow learners of all varieties to simulate the experiences of refugees and IDPs so that they may better understand the complex set of circumstances that can lead individuals to flee their home country. My favorite of late is Against All Odds. Published by the UN Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC), the game positions learners in a variety of simulated environments and circumstances in a hypothetical country. The UNRIC also hosts a broad range of resources to support & provide context for game-based learning. Against All Odds will be one of several games (Half the Sky, Darfur is Dying) our GLOPO 2 class will be engaging in the fall. 

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