“If every displaced person in the world were put into their own country, it would be the 21st largest country in the world.”

The sobering statistics and complex crisis of displaced refugees is the focus of a new book written and published by students at The University of New Mexico.

"This book is about displacement, what it means for all of us, and what it leads to. This book is a mosaic, kaleidoscopic, intended to be nonlinear and ultimately, an expression of the many ways we are mutually displaced in the world,” - Manuel Montoya, IBSG Faculty Advisor

Outside the Margins: The Blue Book on the Global Refugee Crisis is a compilation piece researched and assembled by UNM students and supported and published by the Anderson School of Management (ASM). The book was written and designed over the course of two years by International Business Students Global (IBSG), a group focused on questions of international management, social entrepreneurship and the role of business in the global political economy. The UNM student group began seven years ago under the tutelage of faculty advisor Manuel Montoya, a Associate Professor of International Management and Global Structures at ASM.

“These students are extraordinary in their regard for this cause,” said Montoya, who is also an editor and contributing author of the book. “Their dedication is to be commended, as is the dedication of the Anderson School of Management and the UNM Foundation, both of which worked tirelessly to curate funds and make this idea a reality.”

Montoya has been at the helm of IBSG since its inception and is one of the few who have seen the Outside the Margins project in every phase. He says the idea sprang from faculty within Anderson but was quickly adopted and furthered by the efforts of IBSG. The current group of students are the latest in a long line of predecessors and contributors who recognized the need to make the refugee crisis more accessible to the public. 

“The refugee crisis is a heavy subject, and there is a lot of identity and party politics wrapped up in it,” said Sonny Haquani, the book’s executive editor. “Our intention was to take that high-level research and distill it into a form that’s accessible to the reader who has never even heard of the refugee crisis.”

Outside the Margins (OTM) was born out of a desire to make the refugee crisis more understandable and accessible to the average person. It does so by presenting the facts through written word, graphic design and artistic display – so no matter what page the text is opened to, it provides the reader with easily-digestible and identifiable facts, statistics and perspectives.

The book was developed partially in response to the growing Syrian refugee crisis, now referred to as the “Worst man-made disaster since World War II.” It also touches on the many dimensions of global climate change, the major challenges in public health and the divide between individuals -- often perpetuated by technology.

OTM addresses these concerns by building a framework on the Nadeem Aslam quote “pull a thread here... and you’ll see it’s attached to the rest of the world.” The authors outline a blueprint (hence the “bluebook” part of the title) for individuals, communities, NGOs and governments to use to educate themselves and others on the imperative of kindness, acceptance and empathy when dealing with others, particularly those displaced from their homes. At the core of the blueprint, the students propose five critical principles to guide the tone of programs and policies that affect refugees. 

Facts About The Project

  • Produced by students from all over the University representing diverse fields of study in order to make the complicated issues of the refugee crises more legible and accessible
  • Contains perspectives from dozens of top-level academics, leaders and policy-shapers, over 100 individuals in total contributed to the book
  • All profits from the book go towards sustaining the OTM project
  • The book is currently being translated into Spanish with hopes to see it translated into several more languages.

Project history

The book is the second installment of a project titled The Kraye Challenge – named for the late Professor S. Howard Kraye. The social entrepreneurship program was designed to empower students to use business as a means of social change. The first installment challenged artists to describe the experience of marginality —what it means to be outside the margins. The project culminated in an art auction where students raised thousands of dollars for an international NGO.

“At the time, the refugee crisis was just starting to get attention,” said Josh Lane, executive design manager on the book. “And they decided they wanted to incorporate art as a way of expressing the marginalization that was happening.”

The first iteration was so successful, IBSG expanded the project – challenging artists to find ways in which their mediums could educate people on the humanistic struggle of displaced refugees.

“That sparked a deeper conversation about how to take art to a new level, and use it as the basis of a curriculum for how to better integrate refugees and other displaced peoples into their new communities,” Lane said.

“We wanted to do it in a way that is artful, but also allows policymakers to be able to look at it and say ‘this makes sense,’” Haquani commented. “Implicit in the act of artistic creation is the ability to self-determine one’s future. And that was what led us to use the logic of art as a social instrument, and create a framework around it – which led us to developing the five guiding principles.”

1. Creative Self-Determination: actively engaging students’ creative faculties, especially those that involve self-reflection.

2. Metacognition: Frame the process of learning in ways that invite students to analyze their thinking.

3. Interconnectedness: Show the connectedness of the world to help children develop a view of themselves in relation to the world and remind them they are never alone.

4. Value of Diversity: Emphasize the value of diversity in perspectives and identities. Students should be able to appreciate that opinions are like pieces of a mosaic and that it takes many of them to form a full picture.

5. Empathy: Work to develop students’ ability to empathize with people throughout the world, especially those that are from different cultural backgrounds.

Going beyond simply defining the terms, Outside the Margins gives specific examples on how groups can implement the guidelines – dissecting the desired learning outcomes and providing step-by-step implementation indicators and objectives.

“People and groups can actually use the whole program or just pieces of it and implement them in a variety of ways,” Haquani said. “For example, it can be used to interlace metacognition into a summer camp for refugee children.”

According to the book, several refugee education programs are already implementing these guidelines, including Art for Refugees in Transition (A.R.T) and Colors of Connection. In addition, the educational outline will soon be implemented as a pilot program in conjunction with Lutheran Family Services, a local non-profit dedicated to assisting displaced refugees. In the future, Outside the Margins could be used on other local, national or international platforms.

“This is exactly the type of programmatic framework that can be applicable for anyone who has experienced marginality or oppression,” Haquani concluded.

A limited number of Outside the Margins hardcopies can purchased at the upcoming book launch, or downloaded for free here. IBSG is holding the book launch and interactive discussion on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 in Ballroom B of the UNM Student Union Building at 5:30 p.m.