Education

A Life in the Margins: Understanding the Roma Experience

In recognition of International Roma Day, Weatherhead Faculty Associates Jacqueline Bhabha and Jennifer Leaning, and their colleague, Roma Program Director Margareta Matache, discuss the annual conference and their team’s research on a disenfranchised people.

Image of Roma painting

In one of the popular Madeline children’s stories, the well-known redheaded French schoolgirl runs away with her friend Pepito to join a caravan of Gypsies who train them to perform in their traveling circus. At first they are thrilled not to have to go to school or brush their teeth. But when they become homesick, the Gypsy mother sews them into a lion costume, effectively kidnapping them.

Of course it ends well, with a rescued Madeline exchanging farewells with the affectionate Gypsy mother and children and returning to boarding school.

Is this a harmless children’s adventure story or does it perpetuate an enduring stereotype of criminality and indifference among a little-understood ethnic group? The educational crisis of Romani children (pejoratively referenced as “Gypsies”) is just one of many research topics spearheaded by a faculty team from the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center on Health and Human Rights at Harvard.

A Life’s Work Battling Religious Illiteracy

Image of Ali Asani

As prejudice toward Muslim Americans heightens, a Harvard professor welcomes the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslims, and a champion of pluralism

Ali Asani is once again disheartened about the destruction of another cultural treasure as a result of narrow exclusivist mentalities taking root in nations all over the world. In the Middle East this exclusivism is associated with the upsurge of tribalism that threatens the very existence of nation-states. When the self-declared Islamic State recently decimated the iconic Arch of Triumph in Palmyra, Syria, Asani was horrified but not surprised.

Making Education Count

Finding Possibilities of Peace in the Unlikeliest of Places

Image of refugee girl from DRC

Sarah Dryden-Peterson, assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (GSE), has spent years investigating the dimensions of education in conflict settings. During her time at GSE, her mission has proved ever more important as conflicts intensifying in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, and Somalia both demand immediate action and provide new opportunities for exploration.