New Book Examines Issues Facing Refugees and Asylum Seekers

The School of Social Work. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)
The School of Social Work. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)
Megan Berthold
S. Megan Berthold, Ph.D.,
associate professor of social work and director of field education.

A new book by a pair of School of Social Work faculty members covers the legal, historical, and contemporary issues facing refugees and asylum seekers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

In twelve contributed chapters compiled and edited by S. Megan Berthold and Kathryn Libal, the book spans international human rights and humanitarian law as well as domestic laws and policies related to forced migrants.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Interdisciplinary and Comparative Perspectives” (ABC-Clio Press, 2019) addresses  social welfare supports for resettled refugees; culturally responsive health and mental health approaches to working with refugees and asylum seekers; systemic failures in the asylum processing systems; and rights-based approaches to working with forced migrant children.

The book also examines policy developments and strategies to advance the well-being and social inclusion of refugees in America and Europe.

“In the current political climate, the human rights of refugees and asylum-seekers are being systematically violated and their well-being compromised in the United States and in many parts of the world,” says Berthold, associate professor of social work. “Contributors to our book offer insights into the impact of these violations and recommendations for rights-based practice across multiple disciplines, including strategies to advance the well-being and social inclusion of these vulnerable populations.”

Kathryn Libal
Kathryn Libal, Ph.D.,
associate professor and director, UConn Human Rights Institute.

Berthold has provided clinical and forensic services to diverse refugee and asylum seeking survivors since the mid-80s both domestically and in refugee camps in Asia. She has testified extensively as an expert witness in U.S. Immigration Court. Her National Institute of Mental Health-funded research examined the prevalence of mental and physical health consequences among Cambodian refugee genocide survivors. She is author of “Human Rights-Based Approaches to Clinical Social Work and co-editor of “Advancing Human Rights in Social Work Education.”

“Contributions to this book underscore that solutions to global forced migration should address the interconnectedness of contributing factors beyond and across borders, even as policies to protect the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants must also be created and implemented at local and national levels,” says Libal, associate professor of social work.

Libal’s scholarship has addressed topics of human rights and forced migration in the Middle East and the U.S. She is currently conducting collaborative research on the politics and practices of voluntarism and refugee resettlement in this country with Berthold; Scott Harding, associate professor of social work; and Grace Felten, UConn social work doctoral student.

Libal is co-editor of “Human Rights in the United States: Beyond Exceptionalism, coauthor of Human Rights-Based Approaches to Community Practice in the United States” and co-editor of “Advancing Human Rights in Social Work Education.”