Border Crossing for Universities

By: Jennifer Swann   Sarah Stanlick  

Over sixty-five million people are seeking refuge worldwide and twelve million have come to the US in the past decade. The current political climate has forced many US immigrants to go underground - seeking refuge in sanctuary cities, counties and states – as well as creating an environment of fear for our international, undocumented, and first generation students in higher education. In this research, we ask: what is a university’s role in engendering acceptance and inclusion for our on- and off-campus communities? We will also provide examples of efforts done in partnership across campus units and with the local community to address the challenges faced by vulnerable populations in their own neighborhoods and workplaces. The Lehigh Valley (a metropolitan area that includes Lehigh University), has welcomed 12,400 from outside the US. Lehigh University has contributed to this diversity, growing the international population to 10% of its student body, while also creating intentional policies, processes, and practices to meaningfully grow our domestic diversity. In this study, we focus on three specific case studies: the creation of Lehigh’s Council for Equity and Community and impact on campus culture, programming developed between Lehigh’s Martin Luther King Committee and the NAACP, and longstanding work in partnership between Lehigh’s Center for Community Engagement and the valley’s refugee resettlement partners. These case studies will be framed through a systems-wide inclusion lens, while exemplifying strategies and goals across stakeholders to realize a more diverse, inclusive community on campus and beyond.

Representation, Immigration, Refugees, Social Citizenship, Communal Identity
2019 Special Focus—Border Crossing Narratives: Learning from the Refugee Experience
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Jennifer Swann

Professor , Biological Sciences , Lehigh University

Champion for diveristy and inclusion.  Founding Chair of Lehigh's Student Diversity Task Force, Faculty and Staff of Color Network and  Council for Equity and Community. Social Justice Activist as a member of End Mass Incarceration in the Lehgih Valley, Allentown Environmental Advisory Council, Coalition for Appropriate Transportation and Bethlehem NAACP. 

Sarah Stanlick

professor , Lehigh University , United States
United States