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Summer Course

Summer Course on Forced Migration: Exploring the intersections between forced migration and technology

The CRS Summer Course will be held from June 3-7, 2024 in downtown Toronto (Bloor and St. George neighbourhood).

The course will be offered in a hybrid format, with some participants attending in person and some attending remotely.

For over two decades, York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies has run an internationally acclaimed, non-credit professional development Summer Course that brings together practitioners, policy makers, and researchers to learn together about the most pressing forced migration and refugee issues.

This year’s Summer Course, which is being offered in collaboration with Osgoode Hall Law School’s Refugee Law Laboratory, will focus on research, policy, and practices at the intersections of forced migration and technology.

The number of people on the move increases each year. To adapt to this trend, institutions that manage borders and refugee adjudication processes are deploying new technologies. At this year’s Summer Course, we will turn our attention to the problems and opportunities presented by new technologies for refugee status determination systems, human rights advocates, border management officials, and people on the move.

This interdisciplinary, interactive, and experiential course will explore how technology has been and can be deployed—in both rights enhancing and rights limiting ways—around the world in response to forced migration.

We will bring policy makers, adjudicators, researchers, refugees, and NGO actors together to develop ideas about how technology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, can be used to increase fairness, protect rights, and help address forced migration at scale. Featuring presentations, panels discussions, and break-out sessions, participants will be invited to think critically and thoughtfully about how cutting-edge technologies can, should, and should not be used in the forced migration space.

All participants who complete the full course receive a York University Centre for Refugee Studies Summer Course Certificate.

If you would like to be kept updated about CRS, please let us know that you’d like to be added to our listserv by emailing Michele Millard at


(May 28, 2024)

Program overview

Summer Course on Forced Migration: Exploring the intersections between forced migration and technology

June 3-7, 2024.

This year’s Summer Course is offered in collaboration with Osgoode Hall Law School’s Refugee Law Laboratory and will focus on research, policy, and practices at the intersections of forced migration and technology.

The course will start off with an introductory day and a deep dive into the current state of play. To ensure a baseline level of knowledge for attendees, participants will receive an overview of major trends in forced migration as well as some of the vast array of technologies used for border enforcement, refugee adjudication, and the inspiring innovations by researchers, lawyers, and affected communities aimed at leveling the playing field.

Each subsequent day will then be oriented around a theme. The first theme, The Sharpest Edges of Border Technologies, is an exploration of surveillance technologies and projects used for border enforcement, including a panel discussion on the regulatory gaps in border surveillance globally as well as a conversation with members of displaced communities working with the RLL’s Migration and Technology Monitor directly affected by unregulated and high-risk technologies. The second theme, Helping Tools: How Technologies Are Helping us Understand Refugee Adjudication in Canada and Internationally, will invite reflections from Canadian and international practitioners, policy makers, and academics on the positive and empowering uses of technologies in migration. For a change of scenery, the middle of the week will take us outside of the university for site visits in vibrant downtown Toronto with leading experts in the field. At the end of the week, the course will then wrap up with forward looking exercises and broad discussions about governance, knowledge-production, and how to work with communities at the intersection of technology and migration.

Two public keynotes with noted experts in the field will also bookend the course, one focusing on critical issues in race, gender, and technology, and the other providing a former private sector perspective.  We are curating a lively course that will bring together policy makers, adjudicators, researchers, refugees, and NGO actors together, to share varied perspectives and encourage course participants to share their experiences throughout.

Elisa Ertl

Elisa Ertl is the coordinator of the Re:Match project and is passionate about supporting vulnerable refugees through innovative and empathetic approaches, paving the way for the safe and humane reception of people seeking protection. 

Before joining the Berlin Governance Platform, Elisa worked for years in asylum social services at Diakonie München & Oberbayern, where she counselled refugees and asylum seekers in various types of accommodation and facilities. Most recently, she was in charge of social services in a shared accommodation centre during the COVID-19 pandemic. She therefore brings valuable practical insights from her voluntary work at the EU's external borders. Previously, Elisa supported the UNHCR Protection Unit for Western Europe in legal and policy analysis at the Representation for EU Affairs in Brussels, Belgium. She has extensive experience in supporting multi-stakeholder processes, coordinating several complex project processes simultaneously and building trusting relationships.   

Elisa holds an LL.M. degree in International Security from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands, and a B.A. in Cultural and Social Anthropology from the University of Vienna, Austria. 

Gemechu Abeshu

Gemechu Abeshu is Project Co-ordinator in the Racism(s), Refuge and Resistance Research Team. Abeshu is a refugee and forced migration researcher, currently a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Postdoctoral Fellow, seated in both the Department of Sociology and the Center for Refugee Studies (CRS) at York University, Canada. He earned his Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from Bayreuth University (Germany) and an M.A. in Governance and Development Studies from Antwerp University (Belgium). Abeshu is co-chair of the CRS’ Racisms and Refuge Subcommittee. His research interests include forced displacements, racialized refugee integration, and non-state forms of political power.

Younes Ahouga

Research fellow, CERC in Migration and Integration, Toronto Metropolitan University

Younes Ahouga’s research and publications focus on migration governance policies at the global, regional and local levels. Younes holds a PhD from the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Geneva. His doctoral dissertation analyzes the evolution of the migration management discourses and practices of the International Organization for Migration between 2000 and 2018. From 2014 to 2019, he was a teaching assistant at the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva and, from 2014 to 2017, Younes was a research assistant for a project on the discourse of resilience to environmental change in international organizations.

As co-head of the Swiss Forum on Foreign Policy’s Migration Program through 2019 and 2020, Younes has also organized policy events and engaged with a variety of civil society organizations. Working with policy practitioners to assess the Global Compact for Migration’s implementation, follow-up and review phases, Younes is examining the discourses and practices of the United Nations Network on Migration. This research will advance knowledge on the challenges faced by international organizations in addressing complex migration governance processes.

Maan Alhmidi

Maan Alhmidi is a Community Research Assistant with the Racism(s), Refuge and Resistance Research Team at York University and a journalist based in Toronto. Alhmidi is currently working as a news reporter and editor for the Canadian Press after graduating with a master's degree in journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa. Alhmidi has worked at several Canadian media outlets, including the Globe and Mail, the Chronicle Herald and the Winnipeg Free Press. Previously, he reported on the Arab Spring uprising in Syria and the civil war that followed it before moving to Turkey, where he continued to work as a reporter and editor covering the Syrian conflict and refugee crisis.

Bonsa Bekele

Bonsa Bekele is a Community Research Assistant in the Racism(s), Refuge and Resistance Research Team. Bekele is an aspiring Infectious Disease Epidemiologist currently double majoring in Molecular Biology, Immunology and Disease & Psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Working with Black Student Engagement programing at UTSC, Bekele strongly focuses on program coordination and community outreach, actively supporting Black-identifying students on campus through development of events and educational programs that promote equity and diversity. For this summer, Bekele was able to connect 6+ Black-identifying students to professors in order to successfully secure NSERC and SSHRC scholarship opportunities. Additionally, he currently works in the Immunology department with Treanor Lab at UTSC as a NSERC scholarship recipient. 

Nick Dreher

Nick Dreher is a PhD candidate in policy studies and migration at Toronto Metropolitan University. He is also a researcher with Bridging Divides, CERC Migration and Integration, and the Soli*City partnership. His dissertation research focuses on how international and local actors collaborate to support the needs of precarious migrants and refugees. Other research interests include transnational migration governance, the use of digital technologies in migration management, and decolonial approaches to migration studies. Prior to his PhD, Nick spent close to a decade working in non-profit and higher education settings in a variety of roles including program coordination, teaching, and research. He holds a master's degree from University of Oregon and a bachelor's degree from American University in Washington, DC.

Simon Droti

Simon Droti live sin Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, Yumbe District, West Nile, Uganda. He was one of the 2023 MTM fellows from Uganda, working on a project called Memoryscroll, a digital archive for Refugees and people in challenging situations to store their stories of resistance. They can also connect with their friends through the app. He did data analytics and graphics design and was formally an ICT tutor for Mercy Corps. He is also a Co-Founder of Youth Focus on Transforming Communities, a local refugee led, ICT centered CBO in Bidibidi Settlement ( Simon also works as IT officer for a CBO in Yumbe (Here is Life []).

Amal El Kordi

Amal El Kordi is a Community Research Assistant in the Racism(s), Refuge and Resistance Research Team at the Centre for Refugee Studies and a Juris Doctor candidate at Osgoode Hall Lawschool. In her first year at Osgoode, El Kordi worked at the Community Legal Aid Services Program in the Immigration Law division. She is passionate about social justice, human rights, and advocacy, and has worked with organizations such as UNICEF, the Legal Centre for Palestine, and the Syrian Canadian Foundation. El Kordi’s primary research interests include the human rights and legal implications of criminalizing migrant solidarity and the use of Artificial Intelligence in border control. Upon completing her Juris Doctor degree, she aims to specialize in immigration and refugee law, along with employment law.

Hovig Etyemezian

Hovig Etyemezian heads the Innovation Service of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, having previously served in humanitarian response settings across Lebanon, DRC, Algeria, Mauritania, Iraq, Jordan, and Tunisia. Prior to his humanitarian career, Hovig worked in human rights, peace building, and journalism. He is a visiting professor at the UN University for Peace in Costa Rica, where he completed a Master’s in Gender and Peacebuilding.

Rahel Gettu

Rahel Gettu is a Community Research Assistant with the Racism(s), Refuge and Resistance Research Team. A public health professional with a rich background in global health initiatives and advocacy, Gettu holds dual master’s degrees in public health and business leadership, and a Mini Masters in Foundations of Health Administration from Toronto Metropolitan University. Gettu has worked with the United Nations in Geneva and Ethiopia, focusing on health innovations and community support. Since moving to Canada, Gettu’s work has focused on research and policy development in immigrant and refugee health. Gettu serves as an Immigrant Insight Scholar at the Institute for Work & Health, where she continues to contribute to the understanding of occupational health and safety related challenges faced by newcomers in Canada.

Mary González

Mary E. González was raised in Clint, Texas and graduated from Clint High School. Currently serving her sixth term in the Texas House of Representatives, Mary was elected in November 2012, to represent House District 75 — an area that encompasses much of eastern El Paso County.

During her time as a state representative, Mary has authored numerous bills to improve public schools, increase economic development, and support agriculture in District 75 and throughout Texas. She is Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and serves on the House Higher  Education Committee, and the powerful Legislative Budget Board.. Mary chairs the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus and is Treasurer of the Information Technology Caucus. She is also Chair of the Board of Latino Legislative Leaders, a national bi-partisan organization comprised of Latino state legislative leaders.

Representative González was recently appointed by President Joe Biden to the Board of Directors of the North American Development Bank.  NADBank was set up as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.  The bank helps border communities with funding for water, environmental, energy and other infrastructure projects.

Mary received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, her master’s from St. Edward’s University, and her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction- Cultural Studies in Education from UT-Austin. Previously, she worked at the National Hispanic Institute, the University of Texas at Austin, and as the Assistant Dean for Student Multicultural Affairs at Southwestern University. Mary presently works as Executive Director for the Mexican American School Boards Association, as an independent consultant, and as an adjunct professor at St. Edwards University.

As a result of her accomplishments, Mary was named a “Champion of Equality” and “Advocate of the Year” by Equality Texas. In 2015, she was the youngest inductee into the El Paso Women’s Hall of Fame. Mary received the Progressive Movement Leadership Award from the Young Elected Officials Network at their 2017 National Convening and was named a “Leader of Promise” by the YWCA of Greater Austin in honor of her commitment to eliminating racism and empowering women. She was awarded the “Champion for Children” title by the Equity Center, a Texas organization striving to create a more equitable public school finance system. Mary was named the “Champion of Transparency” by the Texas Press Association in 2021. Most recently, she earned the Texas Diversity Council’s “Leading Light Award” and was named a “Legislative Hero” by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.

Mary has been recognized by Latino Leaders Magazine for her leadership in education, was recognized as one of ten “Next Generation Latinas” by Latina Magazine, and as one of the 10 newly-elected politicians to watch in the nation by NBC Latino.

Mariam Jamal

Mariam Jamal is a lawyer, specialized in the intersection of technology and rule of law, with a focus on human rights- centered digitalisation. She has contributed to furthering conversations on digital rights and inclusion at both local(Kenya) and international levels through speaking engagements, involvement in research and grassroots mobilization. Mariam's  areas of expertise within digital rights include; Data governance, migration and tech, inclusive digital public infrastructure, nd Artificial Intelligence policy and ethics.

Mariam currently works with Haki na Sheria Initiative as a digital rights programs officer. Mariam is also a Kenya Community Advisory Team Member for a Digital Health Rights Project hosted by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies (University of Warwick). 

Christopher Kyriakides

Christopher Kyriakides is Principal Investigator in the Racism(s), Refuge and Resistance Research Team. Kyriakides holds the Canada Research Chair in Citizenship, Social Justice and Ethno-Racialization, and is an Executive Committee member of the Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS) at York University and co-chair of the CRS’ Racism and Refuge sub-committee. He is a former Research Fellow of the Centre for Research in Racism, Ethnicity and Nationalism, University of Glasgow and of the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, University of Bristol. Kyriakides’ research has focused on racialized reception contexts globally, to include Europe, North America, the Middle East and most recently, Africa and South America.

Verónica Martinez

Verónica Martinez iis a bilingual multimedia reporter from the US/Mexico border. She covers immigration, border and women’s issues for La Verdad de Juárez, exploring the intersection of human mobility and gender on topics like access to abortion at the border and reproductive justice. Her reporting on immigration focuses on the consequences and implications that U.S. and Mexico policies have on people on the move and border communities. Veronica has done journalism on both sides of the border reporting for El Paso Times and Las Cruces Sun News back in 2020 and collaborated with El Paso Matters.

Jenn McIntyre

Jenn McIntyre is the Clinic Coordinator at the Canada-US Border Rights Clinic. She is a community practitioner, leader and activist who has been living and working alongside refugee claimants in Canada for almost a decade and a passionate collaborator who believes in the power of community to push forward real change. Jenn is part of several networks of people working to advance refugee rights, border issues, support for newcomer youth and the treatment of detained migrants.

Zeynab Ziaie Moayyed

Zeynab is a Canadian immigration lawyer, assisting clients on all immigration and citizenship matters. With a practice that merges business and immigration law, she advises clients in a wide range of immigration issues and provides strategic advice for short-term visa planning and long-term immigration purposes.

Zeynab regularly represents clients before the Federal Court of Canada, tackling complex issues including those related to use of technology and AI in administrative decision making. She is a frequent writer and speaker speaks on issues related to use of AI in administrative decision making, particularly in the immigration space, and is involved in the legal tech community and is developing tools to assist those interacting with Canada’s immigration system.

Petra Molnar

Petra Molnar is a lawyer and anthropologist specializing on the impacts of migration technologies on people crossing borders. She co-runs the Refugee Law Lab at York University and the Migration and Technology Monitor, which funds community grounded projects on border tech. Petra's first book, The Walls Have Eyes: Surviving Migration in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (The New Press), is coming out in 2024.

Rebeca Moreno Jiminez

Innovation Officer and Lead Data Scientist, UNHCR

Lucia Nalbandian

Lucia is a PhD student and an R.F. Harney Graduate Research Fellow in Ethnic, Immigration, and Pluralism Studies at the University of Toronto, where her research explores the use of emerging technologies in migration management. Lucia holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Law from the University of Toronto and a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Administration from Toronto Metropolitan University. By day, Lucia spends her time with the brilliant minds at Deloitte Canada and working as a Research Affiliate with the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration Program at Toronto Metropolitan University. Lucia’s research centres around questions at the intersection of migration, emerging technologies and human rights governance.

For LinkedIn

Nana Mgbechikwere Nwachukwu

Nana Nwachukwu is a technology and IP lawyer with more than 14 years of expertise. 

She has worked with various global civil society stakeholders, academics, private sector organisations, and governments. 

Nana is affiliated with the Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society where she co-leads a Working Group on AI and Agency in the Global South. 

She's the AI Ethics & Governance Consultant at Saidot AI.

For LinkedIn

Najala Nyabola

Nanjala Nyabola is a writer and researcher based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her work focuses on the intersection between technology, media, and society and includes two MSc degrees from the University of Oxford, which she attended as a Rhodes Scholar. She also holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Nanjala was awarded the inaugural Foreign Policy Interrupted Fellowship, designed to amplify the work of women around the world in foreign policy analysis.. She is a non-resident fellow at the Centre for International Cooperation (CIC) and a Digital Civil Society Fellow at Stanford University, and has held numerous fellowship and research associate positions including with the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and the Oxford Internet Institute (OII).

Nanjala has published extensively in academic and non-academic outlets, including opinion pieces and analysis in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, the BBC Focus on Africa Magazine, IRIN, Pambazuka Press and the New African Magazine. She is a frequent speaker in various conferences around the world touching on contemporary African politics and society.

Nyabola has also worked as a research lead for several projects on human rights broadly and digital rights specifically around the world, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Global Development Trends Journal of the Development and Peace Foundation, the Culture and Development Foundation for East Africa in Dar es Salaam, and the Africa Policy Research Initiative in Berlin. She has published in several academic journals including the African Security Review and The Women’s Studies Quarterly, and contributed to numerous edited collections. Nanjala also writes commentary for publications like The Nation, Al Jazeera, The Boston Review and others. She is the author of Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics: How the Internet Era is Transforming Politics in Kenya (Zed Books, 2018) and Travelling While Black: Essays Inspired by a Life on the Move (Hurst Books, 2020). She recently authored a report called Digital Identities and Border Cultures with the Atlantic Council

Derya Ozkul

Derya Ozkul is an Assistant Professor in Sociology at the University of Warwick. Her work examines the politics of migration and displacement. Her current work focuses on the use of new technologies for managing, controlling, and processing mobility and asylum in Europe. Previously, she conducted research on migration policies in the Middle East, specifically in Turkey and Lebanon, as well as in Europe, primarily Germany, and Australia. migration system

Rajendra Paudel

Rajendra Paudel is a passionate advocate for migrant workers' rights and empowerment. Hailing from Nepal, Rajendra embarked on his own migrant worker journey, laboring in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It was during his time in the UAE that Rajendra initiated a groundbreaking endeavor in 2017: Facebook Live sessions conducted in Nepali. These sessions were dedicated to providing migrant workers with essential information and genuine insights into their rights and obligations.

Driven by his firsthand experiences and a deep commitment to his fellow workers, Rajendra's Facebook Live sessions quickly gained traction, becoming a vital resource for Nepali-speaking migrant communities. His dedication to empowering others led him to expand his reach, leveraging platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok to disseminate crucial knowledge on financial literacy, digital proficiency, and fraud awareness.

Rajendra's tireless efforts have earned him widespread recognition and respect within the migrant worker community. As the founder of Bidesh, a project born out of his passion and dedication, Rajendra continues to champion the rights and well-being of migrant workers, ensuring that they have the tools and information they need to thrive in their chosen destinations. Bidesh was started as a project in support of the Migration Technology Monitor Fellowship, with Rajendra being recognized as a Migration Technology Fellow for the term 2023-24.

With a significant presence across social media, Rajendra's impact continues to grow. His YouTube channel boasts an impressive 416K subscribers, while his Facebook page has garnered 240K followers. Additionally, Rajendra reaches over 103K followers on TikTok, solidifying his position as a leading voice in migrant worker advocacy and empowerment

Simone Penasa

Simone Penasa is Associate Professor in Comparative Public Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Trento (Italy). He held a Ph.D. in Comparative and European Legal Studies. He teaches Constitutional Law, Comparative Judicial Systems, and Ethics and Law of Artificial Intelligence. 

He is part of the Biodiritto Research Group (now BioLaw Lab: He is also one of the Coordinators of the “Laboratorio su Migrazioni e Tecnologia (MET Lab: Lab on Migrations and Technology)”, in the framework of the Academy “Law and Migrations”, University of Tuscia, Italy.

He is actually involved in the Jean Monnet Module “ESAF - European Societies and Academic Freedom: Patterns, Problems, Solutions” (2022-2024).

His main research fields are comparative public law, biolaw, migration law, minorities protection, and judicial systems governance. He is author of many articles and essays, published in national and international law journal. In 2015 he wrote the book “La legge della scienza. nuovi paradigmi di disciplina dell’attività medico-scientifica” (“The law of science: New paradigms for regulating medical and scientific activity”). He is actually working on the impact that artificial intelligence may produce the use of artificial intelligence-based systems on migrants’ rights protection, with a specific focus of the governance of the borders.

He has been member of many European and international research projects (BIOTELL: Teaching European Law and Life Sciences, Jean Monnet Model; TrAIL–Trento Artificial Intelligence Laboratory”, Jean Monnet Project; Fundamental Rights In Courts and Regulation”, founded by the Justice Programme of the European Union).

He is member of the Editorial Committee of various Italian law journals (BioLaw Journal-Rivista di BioDiritto, Diritto Pubblico Comparato ed Europeo, Rivista di Diritto costituzionale).

He was visiting research in many European research centres, such as the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (Heidelberg, 2016), the Observatory on Bioethics and Law (University of Barcelona, 2015), the HeLEX Centre (Centre for Health, Law and Emerging Technologies) (University of Oxford, 2012) and the Inter-University Chair in Law and the Human Genome, University of Deusto).

Wael Qarssifi

Wael Qarssifi is a journalist from Syria residing in Malaysia. His project aims to produce original reporting about the issues of migration and refugees in Asia through diverse journalism mediums. It also seeks to create a factual representation of migrants and refugees in the media and combat disinformation used to spread hate speech towards vulnerable communities.

Sean Rehaag

Sean Rehaag is the Director of the Centre for Refugee Studies and the Director of the Refugee Law Laboratory. He specializes in immigration and refugee law, administrative law, legal process, access to justice, and new legal technologies. He frequently contributes to public debates about immigration and refugee law, and he engages in law reform efforts in these areas. He is also committed to exploring innovative teaching methodologies, with a particular interest in clinical and experiential education. From 2015 to 2018, he served as the Academic Director at Parkdale Community Legal Services.

Professor Rehaag’s interdisciplinary academic research focuses on empirical studies of immigration and refugee law decision-making processes. He currently holds an SSHRC grant involving new legal technologies, artificial intelligence and quantitative research on Canadian refugee adjudication. He is also pursuing research using experiments to better understand how refugee adjudicators make credibility assessments. In 2013, he received the Canadian Association of Law Teachers Scholarly Paper Award for an article entitled “Judicial Review of Refugee Determinations: The Luck of the Draw?”. He publishes yearly statistics on Canada’s refugee determination system. Many of his publications are available open-access on SSRN.

Nery Santaella

Nery Santaella (Nani) is a Venezuelan refugee and the Director of Voices Of Venezuela. Her initiative has allowed Venezuelan refugees to access services, programs, and protection mechanisms in their host communities through innovative uses of communication technologies such as a ChatBot at the local level. Her project will expand the possibilities of natural language processing and develop safety protocols for people under surveillance, developing her work from a holistic vision that educates with empathy on sensitive issues such as human trafficking, gender violence, xenophobia, and other forms of discrimination.

Florian Schmitz

Florian Schmitz is a German multimedia journalist based in Thessaloniki, Greece. Schmitz works as a political correspondent for various media, mainly for Deutsche Welle, the international broadcaster of Germany. He focuses on migration, Greece and the Balkans, minorities, and human rights.

Mona Shtaya

Mona Shtaya is the Campaigns and Partnerships Manager (MENA) and Corporate Engagement Lead at Digital Actions. She is also a non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) focusing on surveillance and digital rights in the MENA region. Additionally, she’s a Non-Resident Scholar in the Middle East Institute’s Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli Affairs Program. She previously worked as the Advocacy and Communications Manager at 7amleh-The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, and as the community outreach specialist and Social Media Specialist at Transparency Palestine, the national chapter of Transparency International. She holds an MA in Social Media and Digital Communication from the University of Westminster.

Portrait of Craig Damian Smith

Craig Damian Smith

Craig Damian Smith (he/him) is the Executive Director and Principal Investigator at Pairity (, which combines social and data science to scale and improve refugee resettlement and community sponsorship, and measure outcomes around refugee newcomer integration and social cohesion with receiving communities. He is also a Research Affiliate at the Centre for Refugee Studies, where his current SSHRC-funded project with partners in Tijuana, Mexico explores relationships between global visa and asylum policies and intercontinental mixed migration through Latin America. His past SSHRC-funded projects at CRS include work on the drivers of irregular migration to Canada, and how legal aid affects access to justice for refugee claimants. He was previously a Senior Research Associate at the CERC in Migration & Integration at TMU and Associate Director of the Global Migration Lab at the Munk School at UofT.

Will Tao

Wei William (Will) Tao is a LLM student at the Peter A. Allard School of Law. His current research focuses on the intersections between administrative law, Canadian immigration law, and artificial intelligence. His proposed thesis, supervised by Dr. Asha Kaushal, explores the development of new, robust and responsive, legal analytical frameworks to analyze the judicial review of automated-decision making in immigration, through the perspective of the Federal Court and immigration applicants. Parallel to this, Will is passionate about researching issues of bias and racism in the law, with an emphasis on newcomer, migrant, and Indigenous communities. Will concurrently practices full-time as a Canadian immigration, refugee, and administrative/public lawyer at Heron Law Offices, a firm he founded in 2021.

Ethel Tungohan

Ethel Tungohan is the Canada Research Chair in Canadian Migration Policy, Impacts and Activism, and Assistant Professor of Politics and Social Science at York University. She has also been appointed as a Broadbent Institute Fellow. Previously, she was the Grant Notley Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta’s Department of Political Science. She received her doctoral degree in Political Science and Women and Gender Studies from the University of Toronto.

Her research looks at migrant labor, specifically assessing migrant activism. Her forthcoming book, “From the Politics of Everyday Resistance to the Politics from Below,” which will be published by the University of Illinois Press, won the 2014 National Women’s Studies Association First Book Prize. Her work has been published in academic journals such as the International Feminist Journal of Politics, Politics, Groups, and Identities, and Canadian Ethnic Studies. She is also one of the editors of “Filipinos in Canada: Disturbing Invisibility,” which was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2012.

Dr. Tungohan specializes in socially engaged research and is actively involved in grassroots migrant organizations such as Gabriela-Ontario and Migrante-Canada

Simon Wallace

Simon Wallace is a PhD student at Osgoode Hall Law School and refugee lawyer.

Simon has two broad research agendas. First, how can legal research be enriched with computational methodologies? Inspired by the computational study of literature, he aims to develop methods to read a jurisprudence at scale. For example, if a tribunal issues 20,000 decisions a year, he aims to find a way to read and render conclusions about the tribunal’s total jurisprudence.

Second, as a “crimmigration” lawyer, Simon is interested in the function and use of Canadian deportation law. He researches Canadian inadmissibility law, administrative law, and the history of Canadian immigration law (1893 to 1914).

Owen Lee

Owen Lee is a Master of Arts student in York University. He is currently studying Development Studies and his research topic is to learn how non-profit organizations are assisting Ukrainian newcomers since the Russian invasion in 2022. 

Prior studying at York University, Owen worked in the private sector and non-profit organizations. In addition, he is also a Chinese Youth Fellowship, where he had an opportunity to work with a councillor in Scarborough at the City of Toronto. 

Owen also holds a BA in International Development Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He hopes this internship will expand his knowledge on issues related to development studies and migration studies. 

Hadi Matar

Hadi Matar, a Lebanese Canadian, is dedicated to advocating for human rights, particularly in migration and refugee issues. Majoring in Human Rights and Equity Studies with certificates in Refugee and Migration Studies along with Public Administration and Law, his academic pursuits reflect his passion. Motivated by personal experiences of relocation, Hadi, currently in his second year at York University, aims to attend law school to further his ability to effect positive change in the legal and policy arenas surrounding migration and refugee rights.

2024 Course Co-Director

Petra Molnar, Refugee Law Lab Associate Director


2024 Course Co-Director

Simon Wallace, PhD Candidate, Refugee Lawyer


Administrative Support

Michele Millard, Centre for Refugee Studies Coordinator

Register Online

Applicants must submit a complete Summer Course Registration Form along with a short autobiographical sketch outlining their academic and practical background with respect to refugee issues. This information will be used to help tailor the program for the week.

Funding for the CRS Summer Course is organized by participants themselves. CRS offers partial bursaries to a  limited number of participants based on availability of internal funding and need. In order to organize your funding, we recommend that you obtain sponsorship from the training allocation of a project or programme attached to your organization or donors that fund professional development activities.

Visa support

Update (March 2024)

For many attendees it can take many weeks for the immigration authorities to assess a visa application. We believe that for most applicants, it is now too late to apply for a visa and to have it issued before the course. We have therefore closed our visa letter issuing service. If, in light of your personal circumstances and the visa processing times with respect to your particular country, you believe it is reasonable to apply for a visa, please email for instructions.

The CRS has observed in previous years that many applicants from the Global South have been denied visas to attend the CRS summer course (visa acceptance rates have been very low). As an organization committed to engaging collaboratively with individuals and organizations form around the world, this is a constant disappointment. As in past years, we provide a discounted online option for those who cannot join us in person.

For those planning on attending in person and who require a letter of invitation, we will issue visa support letters to each applicant after they have paid a non-refundable deposit of CAD$200. The purpose of the deposit is to defray the costs associated with processing applications and visa support letters and to demonstrate to the visa processing authorities each applicant’s commitment to the course.

If an applicant is not able to attend the course, their deposit will be used to fund bursaries for other applicants. The deposit funds will be set against your tuition, whether you attend in person or online. For applicants who make a deposit but are refused a visa and decline to attend online, deposit funds will be used to support bursaries for other online or in-person attendees from the Global South.

We recognize that tuition and the deposit may be a barrier for some applicants. We urge each applicant to examine their own financial circumstances before making a deposit. Not only can we not guarantee that each applicant will be granted a visa, we know that many people from the Global South who wish to attend will not be granted a visa. If your financial circumstances, make an application in these circumstances difficult, we urge you to take advantage of the online option. No deposits are required for the online option.

Visa Information

2024 tuition fees


Early bird rate: $1,075 CAD + 13%HST (deadline April 15, 2024)

Early bird for participants based in the Global South: $750 CAD + 13% HST (deadline April 15, 2024)

Regular rate: $1,500 CAD + 13%HST (deadline May 25, 2024)

*This includes coffee breaks and a light lunch. Accommodation, travel and other costs are not included and must be covered by the participant.

Attending virtually:

Early bird rate: $925 CAD + 13%HST (deadline April 15, 2024)

Early bird for participants based in the Global South: $600 CAD + 13% HST (deadline April 15, 2024)

Regular rate: $1,350 CAD + 13%HST (deadline May 25, 2024)


All payments are by credit card only (please note that it is not possible to pay by debit card). This year, the Summer Course is open to anyone interested in attending. Once you've submitted your registration application, your acceptance has been confirmed and you can go to the next step and pay. Please click on the Eventbrite logo or the link below to complete your payment once your acceptance to the program has been confirmed.

Summer Course Registration Payment link

Visa support

Update (March 2024)

For many attendees it can take many weeks for the immigration authorities to assess a visa application. We believe that for most applicants, it is now too late to apply for a visa and to have it issued before the course. We have therefore closed our visa letter issuing service. If, in light of your personal circumstances and the visa processing times with respect to your particular country, you believe it is reasonable to apply for a visa, please email for instructions.

For those who have already applied for their visas and are still waiting for the results, you are not required to pay the balance of the registration until you have been successful in getting a visa. You don't have to worry about the early bird registration deadline - we will make it available to you at any time once you have your visa.

If you paid the non-refundable CAD$200 deposit, we will give you a code that will reduce the registration amount accordingly once you have your visa and you're ready to complete your registration. Please email for the discount code when you are ready to pay the balance owing.

At York University

Attendees who plan to stay at York University may request accommodation from conference services through their accommodation request form. Rates for a single room are $70.00 + tax per night and rates for a double room are $114.00 + tax per night.


For attendees who prefer to reside downtown, closer to the conference location, the University of Toronto offers residence rooms . In June 2024, rates start at $223 a night (which are very expensive, in our opinion!). The Toronto Metropolitan University , which is right downtown, near the Eaton Centre, also offers rooms, beginning at $75 a night. These rates are subject to change. Attendees may also find reasonably priced rooms through or

The 2024 summer course will be held in downtown Toronto:

Friends House,
60 Lowther Avenue
Toronto, Ontario  M5R 1C7


Close to St. George and Bloor Street West

Public Transit (TTC)
St. George Subway Station (St George Station ( - a 5 minute walk from St. George subway Station

If coming by car, please note that there is street parking only.

Summer Course Academic Director
Centre for Refugee Studies
York University
Kaneff Tower, Room 850
4700 Keele Street, Toronto
Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3