CIU Partnered on Rome Conference

 

Migrants and Refugees Poster

The CIU co-sponsored an international conference on the responsibility and responses of Universities to migrants and refugees in a globalized world. Housed at the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome, the culmination of discussions on November 4th concluded with an audience with Pope Francis, attended by participants.

“Migrants and refugees are one of the major issues facing the human community today, and of the 65 million displaced human beings, half are children,” said CIU board President Anthony J. Cernera, Ph.D., one of the coordinators of the conference at one of the opening sessions. Noting the driving need for such a forum, he explained, “It is an issue in which universities have a unique role to play of educating, of providing useful research, and exercising social responsibility.”

Responding to questions regarding the plight of refugees are, (left to right): Father F. Baggio, Undersecretary, Office for Migrants and Refugees, Vatican; Father P. Reubens, President, International Federation of Catholic Universities, Brazil; Anthony J. Cernera, President, Being the Blessing Foundation, USA; Francois Mabille, Secretary General, International Federation of Catholic Universities,  France; Father R. Micallef, Gregorian University, Italy.

Responding to questions regarding the plight of refugees are, (left to right): Father F. Baggio, Undersecretary, Office for Migrants and Refugees, Vatican; Father P. Reubens, President, International Federation of Catholic Universities, Brazil; Anthony J. Cernera, Board President, Center for Interreligious Understanding, USA; Francois Mabille, Secretary General, International Federation of Catholic Universities, France; and Father R. Micallef, Gregorian University, Italy.

The conference consisted of plenary sessions, round tables, panels, and a series of workshops with several objectives. The first was launching a fruitful dialogue among the academic world, “field representatives” and government agencies towards building a working network.

The second aim was to study various approaches to providing education and training for refugees living in settlement camps, as well educating students at universities about these global realities.

Third, the conference explored how universities could develop research projects and proposals to address the pressing research needs of the current crisis. And finally, organizers hoped to strengthen the global effort to access education, being mindful that higher education must be accompanied by other measures, including better knowledge of the migration issue.

CIU Director Rabbi Jack Bemporad commented, “The ravages of war, which have produced millions of asylum seekers, need to have numerous approaches to handle the problems they created. This conference shows that there are significant educational challenges, and it demonstrates what has been done and what has yet to be done in the future to help the refugees regain some semblance of normality.”

Under the umbrella of the International Initiative for Migrant and Refugee Education (2IMRE), partners of this conference were the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU), Being the Blessing Foundation, Pontifica Universita Gregoriana and the CIU.