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Refugee Teaching Institute - Course Series

Critical Refugee Studies Collective


About this series

CRES lecture with audience in classroom.

The RTI will connect local teachers and university educators, refugee and immigrant parents, students, and community members to develop ethnic studies curriculum focused on teaching refugees, teaching about refugees, and teaching by refugees.

The RTI workshop series will focus on:

The histories and experiences of refugees and immigrants in the Central Valley. You will hear from community members, parents, students, and critical refugee studies/ethnic studies experts about why it is important to center refugee and immigrant stories in understanding Central Valley history and experiences. You will also hear about how refugee and immigrant communities are creating change through art, music, literature, and activism.

Learn about methods for high school educators to develop community-response and ethnic studies curriculum by using the primary source materials and activities presented in the workshops

Collaborate with students, parents, researchers, and other educators to develop a curriculum that aligns with the CA Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum as well as MUHSD and California standards.


Day 1: Refugee Storytelling and Media
This workshop will involve a community showcase of media and storytelling projects that refugees have created as well as discussions on how to create more space for refugee stories. Teachers are invited to lead a workshop on poetry and fiction writing. Another workshop focuses on media-making and DIY techniques. Participants will also have the opportunity to create a written piece and/or a work of media that speaks to their story and history. Any of the cultural works produced as a result of the workshops can be integrated into the proposed high school curriculum.


Day 2: Refugee and Immigration History in Merced/Central Valley
This workshop will include presentations in the form of narratives or cultural performances on the history of Merced, students' and parents' story-sharing about their migration from their home countries and resettlement in the city, and teachers' story-sharing about working with refugee students and parents.


Day 3: Refugee Education, Activism & Resilience
This workshop is will include presentations from community and parent partners about their efforts to advocate for educational equity.


Day 4: Curriculum Writers' Reflections
This workshop will focus on teachers as knowledge producers. Teachers will create and share their curriculum proposals with refugee students and their parents for feedback.


Who should take this series?

This course is geared towards educators who are interested in learning about culturally responsive pedagogy and ethnic studies.

Meet the professor:

Ma Vang, Ph.D., Associate Professor for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
UC Merced, School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Arts

Professor Ma VangRecognizing the need for a rich, nuanced understanding of the different people and cultures that have shaped the state’s history, in 2019 California legislators proposed a law that would require all California high school students to take an ethnic studies course. Anticipating passage of the law in 2021, Professor Ma Vang and the Critical Refugee Studies Collective (CRSC)—a group of scholars dedicated to centering refugees’ experiences in research, education, and public initiatives—have begun to meet the need for inclusive and representative curriculum head-on in Merced County.

Professor Vang has received a Public Engagement Fellowship from the Whiting Foundation to launch the Refugee Teaching Institute (RTI), a series of public workshops facilitated by scholars and educators that will bring high school teachers together with refugee students and parents to collaborate on lesson plans that reflect refugees’ histories and life-words; the work will also incorporate the dispossession of indigenous Miwok and Yokut peoples and the relocation to the region of African-Americans from the U.S. South.

With strong support from Merced County schools, the Refugee Teaching Institute is poised to build a foundation for long-term educational partnerships that translate refugee knowledge into the curriculum and expand narratives about life in the Central Valley.

Cost & how to enroll:

July 26 - 29, 2022 | $395* for the series | Earn 4 CEUs
8:30 - 4 p.m.


* MUHSD participants receive a registration waiver. The course can be partially subsidized by a grant from the Whiting Foundation, The Critical Refugee Studies Collective, MUHSD, and UC Merced. Please email with a brief explanation of your interest in participating in the course along with the school district and name of your school affiliation to inquire about subsidized enrollment. 

Attendance will be opened to the community for non-graded participation approximately two weeks prior to the four individual sessions

CRES partners