Europe, Migration, Refugees

Freie Universität Berlin

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Europe, Migration, Refugees

  • Host University

    Freie Universität Berlin

  • Location

    Berlin, Germany

  • Area of Study

    European Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Students should be able to speak and read English at the upper intermediate level (B2) or higher. No prior knowledge is required but the willingness to think beyond the usual framings on migration

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course description 

    In the last decade, the EU experienced unprecedented migration movements. EU’s response has been shaped by distinguishing between “deserving refugees” and “undeserving economic migrants” and has oscillated between humanitarian and securitarian approaches. Whereas the recent developments on the EU borders, such as pushbacks and the containment of migrants in the hotspots, signalize the abandonment of the humanitarian approach, the quick and less bureaucratic protection of Ukrainian refugees demonstrates more of a selective humanitarian approach. However, this approach appears to be fragile, as the welcoming discourse on refugees from Ukraine is breaking down with the energy crisis.

    This form of differential inclusion shaping the migration and asylum policies is the governmental product of an ongoing process of conflict, negotiation, subordination, resistance, and solidarity on the ‘external’ and ‘internal’ borders of something called Europe or of Europe as borderland (Balibar 2009). There are different actors with unequal power relations involved in this process. Departing from critical migration theories, we will focus on the subjectivity of migrants and refugees on different levels by breaking their usual representation as victims/villains from a state-centered or market-centered perspective.

    Starting from a critical overview of EU-level migration and border management policies, we will challenge the metaphor of Fortress Europe. Scaling down, we will learn about the recent changes in the migration/integration policies in Germany and how these are implemented by the local authorities in Berlin and challenged by civil society actors. Finally, we will examine the transformation of migrant labor and learn about the history of migrant struggles by focusing on the recent refugee movement, which has been described as the movement of the 21st century (Davis 2015). Through a diverse combination of assigned articles, class discussions, and field trips, we will encounter viewpoints on the conflicts, compromises, resistances, solidarity, and social transformation concerning the recent migration movements to Europe.

    Student profile 

    This course is designed for all students having a personal, professional or political personal interest in a deeper and thus more differentiated understanding of transnational migration.

    Course requirements 

    The basic conditions for the course are regular attendance, participation in discussions and a close reading of the literature provided.

    • A response paper (min. 1 page) for 3 sessions of the class, which students can choose, is to be submitted after each respective session.
    • Oral presentation (max. 15 min.) or a short essay (max. 5 pages) on a topic from the syllabus.
    • The final examination will consist of answering 2-3 leading questions regarding the contents of the seminar in continuous text.


    • 30% - Response papers
    • 30% - Oral Presentation or Short Essay
    • 40% - Final Exam


    A digital reader will be provided.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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