Courses and Seminars

International Refugee Law – Law 724

This course provides an introduction to the international legal regime for the protection of involuntary migrants. The essential premise of the course is that refugee law should be understood as a mode of human rights protection, the viability of which requires striking a balance between the needs of the victims of human rights abuse, and the legitimate aspirations of the countries to which they flee. The primary objective of the course is to enable students to develop a comprehensive understanding of the international legal definition of a refugee – the basis for being granted protection in 147 states, including the United States.

Refugee Rights Workshop – Law 461

This advanced seminar affords students the opportunity for both conceptual analysis and hands-on application of internationally guaranteed refugee rights. The Workshop begins by considering the way in which rights are allocated under the Refugee Convention, and of the interrelationship between refugee-specific rights and more general norms of international human rights law. Against this background, we will take up as a case study the right of refugees to work in asylum countries. The second part of the Workshop is student-directed, with each member of the Workshop taking responsibility to investigate a current situation in which refugee rights are arguably at risk, and to conceive and present an international legal intervention strategy for critique by Workshop members.

Comparative Asylum Law – Law 462

In fall 2015, this advanced seminar affords students the opportunity to engage directly in the process of conceiving new understandings of international refugee law. Seminar members will research aspects of the question of the right of refugees to freedom of movement. Our research will span the spectrum of related issues, including the right of refugees to leave their own country; to enter and be received by an asylum state; to avoid unnecessary detention or other constraints during the reception process; to move freely and to choose their place of residence within the asylum state; to travel to other countries; and ultimately to choose to return to their home country and to reestablish themselves there. This research will be drawn upon by Professor Marjoleine Zieck of the University of Amsterdam, who will serve as the external academic expert for the next Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law (on this topic), slated for spring 2017.

Refugee Law Reform – Law 843

This seminar will engage with the Background Study on the right of refugees to freedom of movement. This Study will be written by Professor Marjoleine Zieck of the University of Amsterdam. Students will have the opportunity to meet and work with Prof. Zieck to finalize the Background Study to be circulated to experts in preparation for the spring 2017 Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law.

Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law – Law 848

This advanced seminar provides students with a unique opportunity to work collaboratively with a group of leading experts from around the world to debate a Background Study, and to devise guidelines to resolve a cutting-edge concern in international refugee law. The culmination of the shared research endeavor is the Eighth Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law, provisionally to be convened in Ann Arbor in spring 2017, in which students meet with the expert collaborators. The substantive focus of the spring 2017 Colloquium is the right of refugees to freedom of movement. In preparation for the Colloquium, students will carefully analyze the Expert Commentaries on the Background Study received from the experts slated to attend the Colloquium. Students will then assist to define the most fruitful subjects for discussion with our expert collaborators; devise a detailed agenda for the Colloquium; participate in the formal Colloquium discussions; and, based on consensus achieved at the Colloquium, draft proposed “Michigan Guidelines” for the consideration of our expert collaborators. Once approved by them, the Guidelines will be published and broadly disseminated, with a view to encouraging a more coherent and principled application of relevant international refugee law standards.