About the UNESCO Chair Programme
The UNESCO Chair hosted within the School of Education at the University of Glasgow will undertake a programme of work focused on multilingual knowledge exchange in the area of refugee and humanitarian protection, with a focus on fostering integration through creative and cultural expressions. Chair activities will take place in collaboration with the University of Glasgow’s Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNet) and its wide range of international researchers, artists, public and third sector organisations, NGOs, migrants and refugees. The Chair builds on research findings and partner priorities in such a way as to promote creative, practical multilingual action for change at all levels of society, in all contexts. With strategic Global South partners with experience of historical and present day refugee integration, the Chair will work to build capacity in research and action focused on fostering cultural expressions of heritage and diversity with displaced peoples, and academic freedom for those at risk.
The ‘Refugee Crisis’ worldwide has come to public attention and represents a chronic humanitarian need and global challenge to research and public thinking. International policy is struggling to address the scale of crisis and the need for innovative approaches to capacity building, knowledge exchange and integration of host and refugee communities. Conceptually and practically the post-war consensus around humanitarian protection is at breaking point. ‘Crisis’ thinking and uni-directional concepts of integration prevail. Successful multilingual, multimodal and multilateral models of integration are urgently needed. Research at the University of Glasgow on refugee integration, and the use of languages and the creative/performing arts, provides innovative, interdisciplinary ways approaching multilateral integration (see AHRC Large Grant "Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the Body, Law and the State"). Strong, established partnerships with the Islamic University of Gaza and with University of Ghana, Legon mean the UNESCO Chair will provide a unique opportunity for South-South to North learning from contexts which have long term refugee and migratory experiences and where resilience has been developed, often in the face of overwhelming linguistic and cultural destruction. The Chair will leverage the successful public engagement and knowledge exchange work of GRAMNet. With over 800 members and 100 partner organisations from NGOs to policy makers and government ministers GRAMNet offers ways of scaling-up and evaluating knowledge exchange between the Northern contexts and Global South partners. By using researchers and artists to effect knowledge exchange the proposed Chair will offer an innovative, interdisciplinary model for contexts hosting and sending new arrivals. The project will build directly on the outcomes of the AHRC Large Grant research on languages and cultural expressions of diversity amongst refugee populations globally. The Chair will scale-up capacity building across the international higher education, public, government, creative and NGO sectors with regard to multilateral integration, learning directly from ‘experts by experience’ in and from the Global South.
UNESCO Chair objectives
- The development of multilateral integration of refugee and displaced populations within societies in the Global South and the Global North, by sustaining linguistic and cultural diversity and promoting a culture of peace.
- Enhancing and replicating models for refugee integration by intentional multilingual learning with refugees and with new host communities, in order to foster creativity, diversity of cultural expressions and intercultural capabilities.
- Working with partners in distinctive contexts in the Global South – specifically Gaza and Ghana – with historical experience of refugee integration and population loss, in order to address needs in Europe and Third Countries presently receiving contemporary displaced peoples. The Chair will work with researchers, refugees, artists, NGOs, policy-makers and governments to plan and evaluate research projects, programmes for action and policy change addressing their specific concerns relating to cultural diversity and languages.
- Working with key scholars through visits, exchanges, events and video-link seminars, in the Global South and also with indigenous peoples.
- Attending specifically to the academic freedom for refugee scholars and displaced peoples thematically across activities in order to promote creative forms of freedom of cultural and academic expression
Professor Alison Phipps, OBE, PhD, BA (Hons), FRSE, FRSA, FAcSS
Alison holds the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow where she is also Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, and Co-Convener of Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNet). She is a member of the Creativity, Culture and Faith group in the School of Education at the University of Glasgow where she teaches refugee studies, languages, religious and spiritual education, anthropology and intercultural education and education for non-violence.
In 2017 she was appointed Adjunct Professor of Hospitality at Auckland University of Technology. In 2016 she was appointed ‘Thinker in Residence’ at the EU Hawke Centre at University of South Australia. She was the Inaugural Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand in 2013, and is now Adjunct Professor of Tourism. In 2011 she was voted ‘Best College Teacher’ by the student body and received the Universities ‘Teaching Excellence Award’ for a Career Distinguished by Excellence. In 2012 she received an OBE for Services to Education and Intercultural and Interreligious Relations in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. She has been foster mother to an unaccompanied minor from Eritrea since 2009.
Alison has twenty years of research experience in using creative and intercultural methodologies, including participant observation in multilingual communities, work across mobilities (international students, modern linguists, tourists, migrant, refugee communities, international NGOs) and overseas. She has undertaken research and work in Palestine, Sudan, Ghana, Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Germany, France, USA, Portugal. She has produced and director theatre and performance in Germany, UK, Jamaica, Ethiopia and Ghana, and worked as creative liturgist with the World Council of Churches from 2008-2011 for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation. She is regularly advises public, governmental and third sector bodies on migration and language policy. From 1999 - 2004 She was Chair of the International Association for Languages and Intercultural Communication (IALIC).
In 2013 she was awarded a grant of £2 Million by the Arts and Humanities Research Council under its Translating Cultures programme, as Principal Investigator to undertake a project entitled Researching Multilingually at the Borders of the Body, Language, Law and the State. This involved her leadership of a team working in Uganda, Ghana, Gaza Strip, Bulgaria, Romania, U.S.A. (borderlands of Arizona); The Netherlands; Belgium; Australia and New Zealand, working in at least 15 different languages and with a highly diverse team of researchers and artists. This work occurred during the so called ‘refugee crisis’ and involved a step change in public profile and engagement from the specifics of research to the general headline engagements of capacity strengthening across a population and especially civil society.
A key stream of work from the AHRC Large Grant was the improvisation and devising of a large scale production on refugee tropes in Ghana, in 2015- 2016 with indigenous and displaced young peoples and a team of artists and researchers from across the Global South. This involved 6 weeks of intense work and a successful production, in September 2016, filmed for National Ghana TV, Broken World, Broken Word. She co-directed the production and was Executive Producer of the Documentary and Production films. She repeated this work with a Global Mental Health team in July 2017, co-directing, researching and executive film producing two further hour long documentaries and productions. In addition she led a ‘summer school’ and co-ordinated talks from leading Ghana Scholars of African Humanities and Ghana Linguistics, with young displaced and indigenous peoples in their communities.
Alison is no stranger to committee work both in Distinguished Societies and Research Councils (she presently serves as an Advisory Board Member with the AHRC’s GCRF committee) and with grassroots community organisations. She was a senior policy advisor to the British Council from 2007-2014 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2015, and of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2017. She presently serves on the International Committee of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, with a brief to extend its work into the Global South.
She has been recently invited onto the Board of Noyam Institute for African Dance, Ghana; serves as an advisory board member for 3 GCRF projects, as well as the new Open World Research Initiative lead from Cambridge University. She is a Board Member of Right to Remain, a refugee advocacy organisation and has worked as an advisor to organisations from Red Cross to Scottish Refugee Council, Church and Society Committee of Church of Scotland to U.K. and Scottish, U.K. and European Parliaments. She is presently acting as a Commissioner with the Poverty Truth Commission, Scotland, Advisor to Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Ethiopia (CAHDE), to AHRC GCRF Modern Slavery project and to MEITS, Cambridge University. She served on the Integration Forum for the Refugee Taskforce in Scotland, and the Higher Education Committee for developing Refugee Guidance for Universities Scotland. In 2015 she designed and led a witness-bearing 5 day visit with members of the Home Affairs and Justice Select Committee to Calais and Dunkirk refugee camps in France. She is a member of the Iona Community.
She is author of numerous books and articles and a regular international keynote speaker and broadcaster. She has regular columns in the national Scottish broadsheet press. Her first collection of poetry, Through Wood was published in 2009, with a further collection forthcoming in 2018. She has published widely in the field of modern languages, tourism and intercultural studies and European anthropology as well as in the field of Higher Education Studies. She co-edits the journal and book series Tourism and Cultural Change and the book series Languages, Intercultural Communication and Education and is on the editorial board of both Language and Intercultural Communication, Critical Multilingualism Studies, and Hospitality and Society.
Dr Giovanna Fassetta
Giovanna is Lecturer in Intercultural Literacies and Languages in the School of Education. She is a qualified teacher with over 20 years’ experience of working with young people and adults in a variety of settings and in several countries. She has taught in Italy, Eritrea and the UK both as a class teacher (primary) and as a specialist language teacher (early years, primary and secondary). Giovanna also taught adult migrants in literacy classes in Italy and has trained primary teachers of Italian as a foreign language for Edinburgh and Glasgow City Councils.
She holds a Master's Degree in Education (Applied Linguistics) and a PhD in Sociology. Her doctoral research looked at young people's expectations and experiences of migration.
Giovanna has lead or been an integral part of several major research projects in the past few years which intersected with the work of the UNESCO Chair. She is currently leading an international team on the Global Challenges Research Project entitled "Accelerating the impact of the Online Arabic from Palestine (OAfP) language course".
For more information about Giovanna, please see her staff webpage, and our projects page for her UNESCO-related research projects.
(c) University of Glasgow Photography Unit
Tawona Sitholé - Artist in Residence
Tawona is a poet, playwright, mbira musician, educator and facilitator. His ancestral family name, Ganyamatope, is a reminder of his heritage, which inspires him to make connections with other people through creativity, and the natural outlook to learn. As co-founder of Seeds of Thought arts group, Tawona’s work involves supporting and facilitating access to the creative arts. Tawona is Poet in Residence for GRAMNet and works in a variety of settings and institutions. As he continues to write, teach and perform, mostly he appreciates his work for the many inspiring people it allows him to meet.
For further information on Tawona's work under the UNESCO project, please see the Arts Hub pages.
Dr Gameli Tordzro - Artist in Residence
Gameli is a Ghanaian multiple arts professional and a Creative Arts (CA) researcher consultant in Glasgow. He is the Artistic Director of Pan African Arts Scotland and was a researcher and PhD student within the Creative Arts and Translating Cultures Hub of the Researching Multilingually at Borders project at the University of Glasgow. His research interests include arts, culture, language, migration and global peace, and global education. His current focus is on arts as language for research. Gameli is the Musician-in-Residence with GRAMNet.
Gameli began his work with the UNESCO Chair in September 2017, and successfully defended his PhD thesis in 2018.
For further information on Gameli's work under the UNESCO project, please see the Arts Hub pages.
Remit - events and arts hub activities
Bella has studied various languages and holds a BA in European Studies from the University of Amsterdam. Immediately prior to commencing her role as UNESCO Co-Ordinator, Bella worked as the administrator for the AHRC Large Grant "Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the body, Law and the State".
Before joining the University of Glasgow she worked as an administrator in International Operations at Edinburgh Napier University, worked for a number of years as the Head of School Administration at a small language school in France and as Administrator at the Institute for Dutch Language Education at the University of Amsterdam.
Remit - financial administration and business development
Lauren joined the University of Glasgow in November 2008 where her role involved financial administration of a number of UK Research Council studentship programmes and support for the institutional management of Postgraduate Research. She also provided administrative support for the University’s cross-disciplinary Strategic Research Networks, including GRAMNet. Immediately prior to commencing her role as UNESCO Co-Ordinator, Lauren worked as the administrator for the AHRC Large Grant "Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the body, Law and the State".
She holds a BSc in Psychology from the University of Glasgow and a Masters degree in science from the Open University.
Before joining the University she was an adviser for a national drug, alcohol and sexual health service in Glasgow and a project management assistant for a pharmaceutical testing company in Dundee.
Secretariat for UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts
T: +44(0)141 330 5541 (Lauren Roberts)
T: +44(0)141 330 8125 (Bella Hoogeveen)
University of Glasgow
School of Education
Glasgow, G3 6NH