Institute of the Weltethos Foundation
at the University of Tübingen

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Refugee Project

Since the winter term of 2016/2017, our institute has been conducting a research-based learning experience project on inclusion in cooperation with the Pforzheim University and the Institute for Applied Economic Research at the University of Tübingen (IAW).

The team of the refugee project around Prof. Dr. Kilian-Yasin and Prof. Dr. Jürgen Volkert

So far, a total of 99 interviews have been conducted in Tübingen and Pforzheim within the framework of the research project, 76 of which were qualitative interviews and 23 quantitative interviews (the latter within the framework of a pretest). Most of the interviews were conducted with refugees who have good prospects for a long-term stay in Germany. The interviewees came mainly from Syria and Iraq

Since the beginning of the project, the focus has been on the principle of talking to refugees rather than about them. On the one hand, the qualitative approach gives the refugees the opportunity to decide what they want to talk about and to what extent. On the other hand, in the 2018 summer semester, the three Syrian project assistants were for the first time trained so comprehensively in theory on the capability approach (Prof. Dr. Jürgen Volkert, Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences) and in the area of qualitative methods (Julia Schmidtke, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg and Hanna Schirovsky, Global Ethic Institute Tübingen) that they are able to conduct the interviews independently and without the presence of students. This represents a decisive step towards empowerment and professionalization in the sense of the capability approach, both in terms of qualifying and appreciating the work of the project assistants and methodologically.

Research-based learning on the chances of realisation of refugees

The theoretical framework of the research project is the capability approach according to Amartya Sen, which also forms the basis of the Human Development approach of the United Nations. It examines the chances of individuals to achieve their goals and social issues in the context of human development. The aim of the research project is to use the capability approach to find out which values and life goals are personally important to the individual fugitives, what freedoms of choice and capacity to act they see for themselves, where there are limitations and what opportunities for overcoming these limitations are perceived by the individuals themselves.

One component of the research project is therefore the possibility for people with and without a refugee background to meet at eye level and learn more about each other. This will take place in the form of interdisciplinary seminars, in which the participating students will be taught content-related and intercultural competencies with regard to the inclusion opportunities and challenges of refugees. Currently, 26 students at Pforzheim University are taking part in the project and Prof. Jürgen Volkert will give them an insight into the state of research on the human development and capability approach. On the other hand, in the form of the described further training of the project assistants.

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