York University is a public research and teaching university in Toronto, Canada enrolling approximately 53,000 students and employing 7,000 faculty and staff. The Mission of York University articulates the institutional commitment to explore global concerns, support accessible education and promote social justice. The University has attracted and is currently managing close to $380.3 million in grant and contract funds. The BHER Project is housed and managed at York University with support and oversight from the Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic, the Faculty of Education, and the Centre for Refugee Studies.

In addition to managing the BHER Core Team, York faculty and graduate students work with BHER as instructors, teaching/research assistants, and key strategic advisors. University staff members also play an integral role in supporting the programs and operations.

Meet the York University Team:

Steve Alsop (Course Director, Graduate Supervisor) | Email: salsop@edu.yorku.ca
Steve Alsop is a professor in the Faculty of Education. He teaches courses and supervises graduate students in the fields of education, science and technology studies, environmental sustainability, and interdisciplinary studies. Professor Alsop’s research explores the personal, social, political, and pedagogical articulations of scientific knowledge and technologies in educational settings and contexts. Such settings include the public sphere, cultural institutions (museums and science centres), new social movements, schools, and universities. His teaching, research, and writing are informed by a commitment and belief in the importance and hopes of knowledge and education building a more wondrous, humane, diverse, equitable, and just world.

Don Dippo (Course Director, Graduate Supervisor) | Email: ddippo@edu.yorku.ca
In addition to co-directing the project, Don Dippo has taught in the certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs. These courses include Education for Sustainable Development, Educating for Activism, Comparative Perspectives on Global Migration and Education, and more. Dr. Dippo has also supervised BHER master’s students in the MEd program.

Nombuso Dlamini (Course Director, Graduate Supervisor) | Email: nombuso@edu.yorku.ca
Known for her studies examining youth negotiations of identity in new urban environments, Nombuso Dlamini is the inaugural Jean Augustine Chair in Education in the New Urban Environment. Dlamini is also the author of Youth and Identity Politics (2005) and the editor of New Directions in African Education (2008); her youth-focused research asks questions about how global youths’ sojourner lives generate valuable social capital that reconfigures the local urban spaces while also resulting in new complexities of educating unfamiliar ‘others.’ Since completing her doctoral studies, Dlamini has taught at the University of Pretoria, South Africa; Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia; and the University of Windsor, Ontario, where she held the position of Research Leadership Chair. In January 2010, she joined York University, Ontario. Dlamini is involved in multi-year research projects conducted in international settings (Tanzania, Nigeria, and South Africa). She has collaborated with several institutions and multiple disciplines, including social work, education, and sociology.

Marcela Duran (Course Director) | Email: mduran@edu.yorku.ca
Marcela Duran is an educator who has had extensive experience working in Teacher Education and Public Education in Ontario in the areas of Immigrant Education, Equity in the Curriculum, Curriculum Development, Administration of Programs, and Professional Development design and delivery. She is a course director in the Teacher Education Program of the Faculty of Education, York University, in Toronto. Between 2004 and 2014 she designed and coordinated the Community Field Experience Practicum for Faculty of Education teacher candidates at York. She is currently one of the course directors in the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) program of the Faculty of Education where she has taught the Multilingualism and Multiculturalism in Educational Contexts course.

Miguel Gonzalez (Course Director) | Email: migon@yorku.ca
Miguel González (PhD York University) is an anthropologist and political scientist, born in Bluefields, Nicaragua. He is the author of numerous publications on the autonomy regime of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, among which are Pluriethnic Governments. The Conformation of Autonomous Regions in the Atlantic Coast – Caribbean of Nicaragua (Plaza and Valdez, 1997), and Etnicidad y nación. El desarrollo de la autonomía de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua (1987-2007), (Plaza y Valdez 2007), in co-authorship with Pierre Frühling and Hans Petter Buvollen. Miguel has accumulated two decades of active scholarship on the Caribbean Coast and has also ventured into comparative studies in the Latin American region. More recently Miguel co-edited two thematic issues on Nicaragua’s autonomy process in leading academic journals, LACES, and LARR. In 2010, he edited Autonomía a Debate: Autogobierno Indígena y Estado Plurinacional en América Latina (FLACSO-Ecuador, IWGIA) in coordination with Araceli Burguete and Pablo Ortiz-T. A new edited volume entitled Autonomia y Autogobierno en la America Diversa was published in 2021 (Abya-Yala-IWGIA). Miguel is an Assistant Professor in the International Development Studies Program in the Department of Social Science at York University.

Gillian Parekh (Course Director, Graduate Supervisor) | Email: parekhg@edu.yorku.ca
Dr. Gillian Parekh is an Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Disability Studies in Education (Tier 2) within the Faculty of Education at York. Gillian is cross-appointed with York’s graduate program in Critical Disability studies. As a previous teacher in special education and research coordinator with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Gillian has conducted extensive system and school-based research in Toronto in the areas of structural equity, special education, and academic streaming. In particular, her work explores how schools construct and respond to disability as well as how students are organized across programs and systems. Dr. Parekh has taught courses on inclusive education in both the undergraduate and graduate programs for BHER.

Vidya Shah (Course Director, Graduate Supervisor) | Email: vidshah@edu.yorku.ca
Dr. Vidya Shah is an educator, scholar, and activist committed to equity and racial justice in the service of liberatory education. She is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at York University and her research explores anti-racist and decolonizing approaches to leadership in schools, communities, and school districts. She also explores educational barriers to the success and well-being of Black, Indigenous, and racialized students. Dr. Shah teaches in the Master of Leadership and Community Engagement, as well as undergraduate and graduate-level courses in education. She has worked in the Model Schools for Inner Cities Program in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and was an elementary classroom teacher in the TDSB. Dr. Shah is committed to bridging the gaps between communities, classrooms, school districts, and the academy, to re/imagine emancipatory possibilities for schooling. Dr. Shah worked with faculty members from Kenyatta University to co-develop an undergraduate social studies course for BHER. She taught this course online for BHER undergraduate students as well as supervised graduate students in Dadaab.

Rachel Silver (Course Director, Graduate Supervisor) | Email: resilver@yorku.ca
Rachel Silver is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education and Co-Director of BHER. In addition to co-directing the project, Dr. Silver has taught in BHER’s undergraduate program (Rethinking Schooling) and taken on the supervisory role for BHER master’s students.

Kurt Thumlert (Course Director, Graduate Supervisor) | Email: kthumlert@edu.yorku.ca
Kurt Thumlert is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at York University. His research and teaching interests include technology studies, new media literacies, (digital) games and learning, and learning through digital/media production and making. He has taught two graduate courses with the BHER program (Cultural Studies of Technology for Education and Digital Games and Learning) and is actively supervising BHER graduate students in the Kakuma and Dadaab refugees camps in Kenya.

Qiang Zha (Course Director) | Email: qzha@edu.yorku.ca
Qiang Zha is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education, York University, Canada. He holds a PhD (Higher Education) from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) of the University of Toronto and a MA (Comparative Education) from the Institute of Education, University of London. His research interests include Chinese and East Asian higher education, international academic relations, global brain circulation, internationalization of higher education, globalization and education, differentiation and diversity in higher education, theories of organizational change, and liberal arts education in China and elsewhere. He has taught Issues in Globalization and Education to BHER students enrolled in the MEd.

Course directors/graduate supervisors from previous cohorts also include: Sue Winton, Gail Prasad, Darren Hoeg, Lucy Angus, Warren Crichlow, Roopa Trilokekar, Theresa Shanahan, Aparna Mishra-Tarc, Farhia Abdi, Dacia Douhabi, Wangui Kimari, Rhiannon Mosher, Wenona Giles, Kerry Doyle, Colette Granger, Lorraine Otoide, Janette Holmes, Jessica Vorstermans, Joseph Mensah, Valerie Preston, Tarmo Remmel, Robert Bridi, Libby Lunstrum, Ranu Basu, Caroline Hossein, and other seconded/contract faculty.

Theodata Bansah (Research Assistant)
Theodata is a Master’s student in the Faculty of Education at York University. She is a research assistant on the BHER Project. She is also a member of the planning committee for the BHER speaker monthly virtual colloquium series. Theodata holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Ghana. Her research work focuses on Colonialism and Girls’ Education in Ghana.

Roxanne Cohen (Teaching Assistant, Course Director)
Roxanne is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at York University and has been teaching with the BHER program for 3 years. She recently co-created a university-community partnered Certificate Program in the Faculty of Education called Rooted and Rising for young leaders passionate about climate change. Roxanne also supports a local food co-op in a newcomer community focused on food sovereignty in the climate crisis. Roxanne is an educator in university, non-profit, co-op, and corporate settings in climate change and mental health.

Arte Dagane (Peer Mentor)

Mohamed Duale (Research Coordinator, Course Director, Teaching Assistant)
Mohamed is a fourth-year PhD Candidate in Education in the Faculty of Education at York University, and a Graduate Research Fellow with the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University.  He is an interdisciplinary scholar with interests in refugee youth belonging, education, and civic participation among a host of other interests in refugee and forced migration studies. His doctoral research examines the lived experiences of Somali refugee youth in the Dadaab Refugee Camps of Northeast Kenya. He has been teaching in the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) Project to build the capacity of refugee and local teachers and school administrators in Dadaab. As well, he is a researcher with the Local Engagement Refugee Research Network (LERRN), a SSHRC-funded international partnered research project led by Carleton University’s Department of Political Science. Mohamed is also an executive committee member of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS) and part of the organizing committee of the 2019 Somali Studies in Canada Colloquium at Carleton University. Mohamed will be taking up the prestigious African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) Dissertation Fellowship at Boston College in Fall 2020. His educational background includes an Honour’s BA and MA in Political Science from York University, and a Bachelor of Education from OISE, University of Toronto.

Hanan Duri (Teaching Assistant)
Hanan Duri is a 4th-year doctoral candidate in Education at York University and has been teaching with the BHER project for 3 years. She is also a research fellow at the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University. Hanan holds a BA in Political Science and an MA in Development Studies. Her research focuses on forced migration and issues related to the participation, and barriers to access of women in higher education programs in Kenyan refugee camps.

Deka Gaiye (Peer Mentor)
Deka is a graduate student in the Faculty of Education at York University. She has worked as an educator in the Dadaab refugee camps and has been largely involved in the tree-planting project, “Women Refugees for Environmental and Social Change (WRESC)”. The project is school-based, gender and community-responsive. She is an active member in the project whose mission is to establish women and children’s rights, and environmental justice at the heart of refugee schools and community environmental programming and policies. Her research study is clearly rooted in women’s rights and schooling (A study of the impact of poverty on single mothers and schooling).

Kassahun Hiticha (Peer Mentor)

Dahabo Ibrahim (Peer Mentor)

Isnina Issack (Peer Mentor)

Sharareh Kashi (Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant)
Sharareh Kashi is a Ph.D. student in Education at York University. Her research interests revolve mostly around the areas of forced migration studies, globalization, and social justice, citizenship and identity politics, and girls’ education. Parallel to her academic career, Sharareh has worked for different non-governmental organizations that provide education for undocumented immigrants and refugees. She joined BHER team in 2020 as a teaching assistant and also works to provide administrative support to the BHER Speaker Series.

Hilarius Kofinti (Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant)

Ochan Leomoi (Peer Mentor)

Grace Muvunyi (Peer Mentor)
Grace is a Rwandan Refugee living in Kakuma Refugee Camp. She holds a B.A. from York University and is an MEd. Candidate at the same university. Her main research areas are gender disparities and barriers to access and retention in university programs in refugee camps as well as the significance of gender & girls’/women’s access to technology.

Okello Oyat (Peer Mentor)

Zaitun Hnin Pwint Phyu (Teaching Assistant)
Zaitun Hnin Pwint Phyu is a Ph.D. candidate at the Faculty of Education, York University. She is a genocide survivor and the first Rohingya who have got an opportunity to join Ph.D. program in Canada. The Rohingya genocide is a series of ongoing persecutions and killings of the Muslim Rohingya people by the Burmese military and local hardline Buddhists. Her Ph.D. dissertation focuses on how Rohingya youth are navigating their past and present experiences as they negotiate the culture of mainstream schooling in Canada. Currently, she is working as an instructor at York University and a research assistant for the SSHRC-funded project on Rohingya women negotiating English and their children’s schooling.

Nausheen Quayyum (Teaching Assistant)

Mirco Stella (Teaching Assistant, Graduate Assistant)
Mirco Stella is a PhD student in Education at York University and a Teaching Assistant on the BHER Project. As part of the project, he has taught at both undergraduate and graduate levels. He is currently a TA for EDUC 5120: Theory and Research in Culture, Language and Teaching where he mentors MEd students in Dadaab with the development of their MRP proposals. He holds an MA in International Cooperation and Development and has experience in both international and local NGO work as well as grassroots activism and mobilization. His research focuses on the deconstruction of epistemological, ontological, and historical concepts/antinomies of the Self and Other, through the everyday practices of collaboration in education. He is animated by a strong belief in the concrete pedagogical and ethical values and possibilities of collaboration in pursuit of decolonized and democratic futures.

Teaching/Research/Graduate Assistants and Peer Mentors from previous cohorts also include: Seraphin Kimonyo, Abdi Bashir Bishar, Abdullahi Aden Yussuf, Abdikadir Abikar, Nada Aoudeh, Margaret Alexander, Katie Barron, Aedan Alderson, Hawa Sabriye, Aelya Salman, Aziz Guzel, Omar Nur, HaEun Kim, Adilah Abdirahman, Negin Dahya, Dacia Douhabi, Reena Shadaan, Megan Youdelis, Wangui Kimari, Rhiannon Mosher, Kamal Paudel, Danielle Bishop.

Wenona Giles (Past Co-Lead & Advisor) | Email: wgiles@yorku.ca
Wenona Giles, FRSC is a Professor Emerita, Anthropology and Resident Faculty at the Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS),York University. She is a long-time researcher who has taught and published in the areas of migration (including forced migration), refugee issues, gender, ethnicity, nationalism, work, globalization, war. Her co-edited books on forced migration include: Development and Diaspora: Gender and the Refugee Experience (Artemis, 1996); Feminists under Fire: Exchanges across War Zones (2003); with Jennifer Hyndman: Sites of Violence: Gender and Conflict Zones (2004). She co-founded and co-coordinated the Women in Conflict Zones Research Network with Maja Korac (1993-2004). She recently co-authored with Hyndman, Refugees in Extended Exile: Living on the Edge, (2017). She is working on two forthcoming books: with J. Bhabha, and F. Mahomed, A Better Future: The Role of Higher Education for Displaced and Marginalized People, 2020; and with Dippo and Orgocka, Theory and practice of borderless university education: Notes from Dadaab and Kakuma 2021

Jennifer Hyndman (Advisor) | Email: jhyndman@yorku.ca
Jennifer Hyndman is Professor and Associate VP Research at York University. She served as Director of the Centre for Refugee Studies from 2013-2019 during which the BHER project was launched. With Wenona Giles, she conducted research from 2005 to 2011 on the protracted refugee displacement, specifically in Kenya and in Iran, and was lead author on Refugees in Extended Exile (2017) which documents the geopolitics that influence long-term encampment in Dadaab, but also the precarious conditions that refugees endure and their aspirations to leave. Hyndman’s research spans borders and displacement from the Horn of Africa and Sri Lanka to Canada; she is author of Managing Displacement (2000) and a number of other books and articles.

Beryl Pilkington (Research Advisor) | Email: bpilking@yorku.ca
Beryl Pilkington is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing, and Director of the BA/BSc Global Health program in the Faculty of Health at York University. Dr. Pilkington’s practice background in is in maternal-newborn and women’s health, including 5 years as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in this area. She obtained a BScN degree from the Western University, an MScN degree from the University of Toronto, and a PhD in Nursing from Loyola University Chicago (1997). In 1992, she worked as a CUSO ‘cooperant’ in south-east Nigeria in a program for women with obstetric fistulae. From 1996-1999, Beryl held the position of Nurse Researcher/Special Projects at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto. Her current faculty appointment to the School of Nursing at York commenced in 1999. Research interests include community-based approaches to promoting health and well-being with marginalized communities. A study in progress is producing new knowledge to inform the creation of an education model for building health care capacity in refugee populations experiencing protracted displacement in Dadaab, Kenya. Funded by IDRC, this study is affiliated with the multi-partner, CIDA-funded project, “Borderless Higher Education for Refugees,” in Dadaab, under the auspices of York’s Centre for Refugee Studies.

Michele Millard (Advisor) | Email: mmillard@yorku.ca 
Michele Millard is the Coordinator of the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University, the Project Coordinator of the Refugee Research Network and previously the Volunteer Coordinator at the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture. A former member of the Executive Committee at the Canadian Council for Refugees as well as of the Community Council at the Salvation Army’s Immigrant and Refugee Services, Michele is past President of the Board of Sojourn House, a refugee shelter and transitional housing unit for refugees in Toronto and is currently on the editorial board of Refugee Update, a community journal published by the FCJ Refugee Centre which is linked to the Canadian Council for Refugees. She has been volunteering for organizations providing settlement, protection and advocacy services to refugees and refugee claimants for the last 15 years. Michele holds a Master’s degree in Art History from McGill University and a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from the University of Toronto.

Joseph Mensah (Research Advisor) | Email: jmensah@yorku.ca
Joseph Mensah is a Professor of Geography at York University. His current research interests are in globalization and culture, transnational migration, health, African development, and socio-spatial dialectics. Professor Mensah has received several competitive grants from the likes of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Gates Foundation, Global Development Network, ILO, and the Commonwealth Secretariat. He has written numerous journal articles and contributed chapters to a number of books. He is the author of Black Canadians: History, Experiences, Social Conditions, published by Fernwood in 2002/2010, the editor of Understanding Economic Reforms in Africa, published by Palgrave in 2006, and the co-editor of Globalization and the Human Factor, published by Ashgate in 2004. For more on his research, visit: www.yorku.ca/jmensah.

BHER’s success would not be possible without the support of key York University offices and staff.
Special thanks to all who have (and continue to) support the project’s work in Dadaab!

Office of the Dean, Faculty of Education
Office of the Associate Dean, Academic Programs, Faculty of Education
Office of Student Services, BA & BEd Admissions and Registration

Centre for Refugee Studies
Registrar’s Office
Convocation & Special Projects
York University Bookstore