About Student Engagement


Project ASPIRE provides a great opportunity for students to become involved in a highly relevant context, through CU coursework, field-level research
and community outreach events.


Columbia Coursework


Global Refugee Response: Policy & Practice

Learning goals include:

  • Provide an introduction to refugee literature;
  • Equip students with refugee response research methodologies;
  • Enable students to distinguish how varying governments respond to refugee crises, and
  • Focus on how services are targeted and delivered (and by whom).

Using Syrian refugee crisis as overarching case study, the course will cover topics such as:

  • Problem – influencing forces, historical impact, why this is viewed as a “problem”
  • Humanitarian ecosystem – Major UN agencies and NGOs, guiding principles
  • National policies – how governments influence response and displacement
  • Impacts on well-being (emphasis on health) – key needs, key gaps in provision, how to identify needs, how to inform response
  • Social media (ICT4D) – Refugee response in the internet age

Student internships, field placements, independent studies


We are fortunate to have many students contact ASPIRE each semester, and we value spending focused time with each student placed with ASPIRE. Given the existing depth of student support, we are currently only accepting students who are able to offer at least one day a week and have Arabic language or research experience.

Summer graduate student placements are available, as well as 2nd year non-clinical MSW placements. MSW placements focus primarily on community engagement, marketing, and grant writing. MSW research opportunities are available for highly organized and analytically strong applicants. 

Those interested should share their CV as well as a letter of interest to aspirerefugees @ columbia.edu