Third Annual Shifting Worlds Symposium

Engagement with Refugee and Immigrant Communities During A Pandemic: Collaborations, Challenges, and Resilience.

Event Dates: Friday, Nov. 5 (virtual via Zoom) and Saturday, Nov. 6 (in person at Guilford College, Greensboro, NC)

Click Here to register your spot.

Co-Sponsors: UNCG Center for New North Carolinians, UNCG Institute for Community and Economic Engagement, UNCG Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement, UNCG Lloyd International Honors College, UNCG Office of Student Success, UNCG Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, UNCG Coalition for Diversity in Language and Culture, UNCG Office of International Programs Kohler Award, Duke Service Learning, Association for Immigration and Refugees Service Professionals (ARSP), Justice and Policy Studies Department at Guilford College, and the Center for Principled Problem Solving and Excellence in Teaching at Guilford College


Call for Proposals

This symposium will focus on the theme of “Engagement with Refugee and Immigrant Communities During A Pandemic: Collaborations, Challenges, and Resilience.” In recent years, the U.S. has seen a significant increase in xenophobic and racist anti-immigrant and anti-refugee rhetoric, policies, and practices. As the number of forcibly displaced individuals and refugees soared to an all-time high, US policies have actively sought to impede their admission. This symposium seeks to explore the ways in which institutions of higher education, in their service-learning and community engaged teaching and scholarship, have responded to the challenges facing their local refugee and immigrant communities during recent years (e.g. racism, COVID-19, etc.)

Potential topics could include but are not limited to:

— exploring racism and xenophobia as pandemics that affect refugee and immigrant communities
— reimagining community engagement
— new pedagogical approaches to service learning: experiential components, assignments, activities, and virtual service
— navigating physical and mental health resources during Covid-19
— educational access (K-12 and higher education)
— technology challenges: access and training
— role of faith communities in community engagement
— impact of immigration policies and procedures
— stories of entrepreneurship, resilience, and innovation during pandemic conditions
— collaborative projects across borders
— arts and culture
— ethics of service learning and service learning as whiteness
— service learning as social justice — retaining and empowering students of color
— the role of the diaspora in community engagement
— transnational community engagement
— support for reintegration of refugees and migrants (at home and abroad)
— resistance movements promoting immigration policy and practices
— other topics relevant to engagement with refugee and immigrant communities


The Center for New North Carolinians symposium organizers are especially interested in presentations that involve community members and partner organizations; presentations that address partnerships (development, challenges, successes); presentations that center students voices and experiences; presentations that highlight the service-learning experiences of students, faculty, and staff who identify as refugees and immigrants themselves; presentations that speak to the ethics of service-learning; presentations that speak to service learning as social justice; presentations that speak to service learning as collaborative and transnational/transdisciplinary; service-learning and community engagement during COVID-19.

Proposals should be no longer than 200-250 words and address the project/study/session, including aims/purpose/outcomes, methods of inquiry (if applicable), and significance to the study of immigration and/or conference theme.

For full consideration, please submit proposals by Friday, October 1, 2021. Notification of acceptance will be sent out no later than Friday, October 15, 2021. Additional details regarding the virtual format will be provided upon notification of acceptance.  There are no registration fees for this conference.

Click here to submit your proposal!

*** Please note that due to space constraints and possible ongoing COVID-19 restrictions only poster sessions will be allowed to be held in person on Saturday, Nov 6. The rest of the sessions (panels/roundtable/individual presentations) will be held via Zoom on Friday, Nov 5***


Opening Keynote Speaker – Dr. Cristina Santamaría Graff

Our keynote speaker for the event is Dr. Cristina Santamaría Graff, Assistant Professor of Special Education, Urban Teacher Education (Ph.D., University of Arizona, 2009) at IUPUI. She has expertise in bilingual/multicultural special education and applies her skills in working with Latinx immigrant families of children with dis/abilities in family-centered projects. Her scholarship focuses on ways community-engaged partnerships with families and other stakeholders can transform inequitable practices impacting youth with disabilities at the intersections of race, class, and other identity markers of difference.

Specifically, her work focuses on “Family as Faculty” (FAF) approaches in special education programs that position community stakeholders’ knowledge and knowledge-making as central to the process of transforming systems.

Currently, Cristina is one of the editors for the journal, Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Leaners and an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education (QSE).

She is a recipient of several community engaged awards affiliated with her implementation of FAF approaches in her teaching and research including the Ernest A. Lynton Scholarship of Engagement Award (2019), American Educational Research Association (AERA) award for Exemplary Contributions to Practice-Engaged Research (2019), the Brian Douglas Hiltunen Award for Community-Engaged Research (2019), and the Charles R. Bantz Chancellor’s Community Scholar Award (2018).


Closing Keynote Speaker – Dr. Aurora Santiago-Ortiz

Our closing keynote speaker is Dr. Aurora Santiago-Ortiz. Dr. Santiago-Ortiz obtained her Ph.D. from the Social Justice Education program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2020. She is an interdisciplinary scholar of community-based, participatory action research and critical methodologies; anticolonial, queer, feminist, and antiracist social movements; and decolonial feminisms. Her dissertation entitled “Collaboration, Collective Agency, and Solidarity Through Participatory Action Research in Puerto Rico,” qualitatively and ethnographically examines the collaborative relationship among those engaged in participatory action research (PAR). PAR is an epistemology and methodology that seeks to transform the lifeworlds of those engaged in this form of inquiry. Santiago Ortiz explores how students, community partners, and herself negotiate their collaborative relationship, produce non-Eurocentric forms of knowledge, and resist neoliberal austerity measures that threaten Puerto Rico’s public university and overall socioeconomic well-being of the archipelago. Her work has been published in the peer-reviewed Michigan Journal of Community Service Leaning, Tracce Urbane: Italian Journal of Urban Studies, Chicana/Latina Studies, The Abusable Past, Society and Space, Zora, and El Vocero newspaper.


Submit your work to New American Migration: A Journal of Research, Praxis, and Application
Are you interested in submitting your work for publication? All presentations accepted to and presented at the symposium will be treated as having gone through the first round of peer review, and presenters will be encouraged to submit their work to the journal New American Migration: A Journal of Research, Praxis, and Application. Formal submissions will be circulated for a second round of anonymous peer review. For more information about submitting entries to the journal contact the journal editors at

We look forward to receiving your proposal!

Download a PDF version of the flyer here to send to your networks!