Module 1: Forced Migration & Catholic Social Teaching

Fall 2017 - Spring 2018

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 to Thursday, May 31, 2018

The “Introduction:  Stories That Shape Our Lives” provides an overview of the current global landscape of forced migration.  We review the history of migration since WWII, the role of the United Nations and Catholic Relief Services, explore current global trends, and learn how the Catholic Church and Catholic social teaching view migration.  

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Course materials

Module Materials

Provide a historical background and basis for understanding the complexity of forced migration including the role of the United Nations and international NGO’s like Catholic Relief Services.

Introduce the pedagogy that guides this e-book: See, Judge, Act.

Distinguish key differences in terminology when using the generic word migrant: refugee, asylum seeker, internally displaced plerson, undocumented migrant, economic migrant, and climate change refugee.


PDF icon Term Sheet .pdf

PDF icon Supplemental Questions Module 1.pdf

PDF icon Module 1 Internet Links to Chapter References.pdf provides a sequential list of the web-based links referenced in the footnotes from the Introduction to Global Migration: What’s Happening, Why, and a Just Response.  These same links are included below under Primary Resources and also cross-referenced with the page number of the e-book.

Access E-Book Global Migration: What's Happening, Why, and a Just Response.  Course instructors considering a book for adoption will be provided a complementary copy.

PDF icon Migration Book Handout.pdf provides a brief overview of FLC’s 5 academic modules on Global Migration.  Bring real-life migration stories to your students.  

Primary Resources

History of Immigration to the United States


Explore the forces behind immigration to the US and their impact on the immigrant experience using the Immigration Timeline.  Source: The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation. (Page 8)


“Take the Quiz.  Would your grandmother or grandfather – or any of your ancestors – be denied entry today?”   Source:



Forced Migration - The Broader Context


The World's Congested Human Migratrion Routes in 5 Maps.  Source: National Geographic News.  Published: September 19, 2015.


International Organization for Migration's Global Migration Trends 2015 Fact Sheet documents the state of migration around the world.  It provides facts and figures on the stock, characteristics, and geography of global migration and summarizes key facts and figures on these topics: forced migration, irregular migration, forced and voluntary return, migrant deaths, human trafficking, remittances, and public opinion.  Published: 2015.  20 pages.  (Page 8)


“The end of the war in Europe was only the beginning of the suffering for millions of people left homeless by the fighting, released from captivity or expelled as an act of vengeance,” says Bernard Wassertein in European Refugee Movements After World War Two (Source:  Last updated: February 17, 2011).  Europe’s refugee crisis: last time around was much, much worse provides another perspective.  (Author: R M Douglas.  Source: Fortune Magazine.  Published: September 18, 2015.)

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees


Forced Displacement hits a record high in 2015. See a map of the UN Refugee Agency’s findings on these trends, access the full report, Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2015, or watch a 5-minute video.  Posted June 20, 2016.            (Page 8 and Page 15)


“The 1951 Refugee Convention is the key document that forms the basis of our work.  Ratified by 145 State parties, it defines the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of the displaced as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.”  Access the Refugee Convention and related topics.  (Page 9)


Human Mobility in the Context of Climate Change UNFCCC-Paris COP-21 “answers questions about migration, displacement, and planned relocation in the context of climate change, and suggests recommendations for COP21.”  Published: November, 2015.  9 pages.  (Page 9)


Since its launch in 2013, the No Lost Generation (NLG) initiative has done much to mobilize the international community around the impact of the Syria crisis on children, youth and adolescents. See the UNHCR’s report “No Lost Generation 2015 Syrian Refugee Crisis Update: Moving to a New Phase in the NLG.”  Published 2015.  5 pages.  (Page 9)


The 2015 Global Child Protection, Education and SGBV* Strategy Implementation Report outlines the results achieved during the year toward the three protection strategies, previously identified in 2013, in strategic priority countries.  This third Report was prepared as part of UNHCR’s global monitoring framework for UNHCR protection strategies.  Published: 2015.  44 pages. (Page 13)                                     *SGBV = Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

The Catholic Church, Catholic Social Teaching, and Migration


In February 2017, Pope Francis said "the protection of migrants is a moral duty." Further, “the challenges of migration and the promotion of peace cannot be tackled without development and integration.” Read Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to Participants in the International Forum on “Migration and Peace.  Source: The Vatican.  Published: February 21, 2017.   


On July 14, 2014, “Pope Francis sent a message to the ‘Mexico/Holy See Colloquium on Migration and Development’ urging protection for tens of thousands of unaccompanied children who are migrating North from Central America and Mexico in increasing numbers.”  Click here to read the Holy Father’s letter.  (Page 10)


Dr. Charles Strain, co-author of “Global Migration: What’s Happening, Why, and a Just Response,” spoke at Marian University on November 15, 2017. His presentation covers forced migration weaving throughout examples of how CRS provides support to migrants and refugees who are fleeing violence as well as climate change. 53:34 minutes. Published: November 20, 2017.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) - The Agency


Formed in 1943 by the Roman Catholic Bishops of the United States, CRS puts the Catholic “faith into action to help the world’s poorest create lasting change.” For more the work of CRS, see their Mission Statement, a description of their work overseas, information about CRS Student Ambassadors, and a copy of the 2015 annual report.  (Page 12) 


Little by Little: Exploring the Impact of Social Acceptance on Refugee Integration into Host Communities directly connects with the outcomes of the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, the dual Refugee Summits held that same year, and the Sustainable Development Goals. This qualitative study focuses on Ecuador, India and Jordan and provides clear recommendations for improving work with refugees. Click here for an overview and link to the 30-page report. Author: Beth Maclin, Casual Design. Published: Catholic Relief Services, 2017.  

Refugee Stories from Catholic Relief Services (CRS)


Deacon Steve Swope describes meeting a female Syrian refugee in Understanding Syrian Refuges, One Story at a Time.  She says, “My children have not lived at all. They have done nothing wrong, why should they die?” This essay was excerpted from a blog series Swope wrote about his trip to the Balkans.  Published: February 11, 2016.  (Page 10)


Many athletes dream of competing in the Olympics.  But what if you are a refugee?  Read about the first ever refugee team to compete at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.  Author: Edward O'N. Hoyt. Published: August 10, 2016.  (Page 11)


Kevin Hartigan, CRS regional director for the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia, marked the 5-year anniversary of the Syrian war reflecting on how 5 years of war inside the country has affected the region.  Author: Nikki Gamer.  Published: March 14, 2016.  (Page 11)


Refugee children, dealing with trauma, and peace building.  A CRS project uses No Strings International puppetry to help Syrian children – many traumatized by war – deal with their emotions. (Author: Nikki Gamer.  Published: November 5, 2015.)  As Barb Fraze reports,   “(w)hen puppets meet refugees, healing begins for children.” (Source Catholic News Service.  Published November 6, 2014.)  (Page 13)


In the video Helping Refugees Integrate into Society: Spotlight from Bulgaria, a Syrian refugee family plants its roots and tries to open a bakery. See snapshots of life as refugees integrate into local Bulgarian society with a diverse range of social services offered by Caritas Sofia and Catholic Relief Services. Posted: October 11, 2017. 4:18 minutes.


In Cash Grants Help Refugees Integrate into Bulgarian Society, filmed at a cash distribution center in Sofia, see the benefits of cash grants that refugees receive when integrating into society.  Thanks to the SAFERR project, they are the many immigrants supported by Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Sofia.  Posted: September 18, 2017.  1:40 minutes.


A Moment for Grace: A Prayer for Refugees


A prayer for protection for refugees—particularly those fleeing Northern Africa for Europe—as well as for personal transformation as we face the needs of refugees everywhere.

Secondary Resources

Additional Readings

Collier, Elizabeth W. and Charles Strain, ed. Religious and Ethical Perspectives on Global Migration. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2014.

Massey, Douglas, Jorge Durand and Nolan J. Malone. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration.  New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2003.


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