Institute for Sustainable Global Engagement

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The mission of the Institute for Sustainable Global Engagement (ISGE) is to promote and support global engagement, collaboration and professional action among social work faculty, students, graduates and staff.

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Housed within the Buffalo Center for Social Research, ISGE brings together researchers and faculty with common interests, facilitating collaborations in research and expanding and developing educational and service opportunities that foster global engagement and rights based approaches to alleviating pressing social and economic challenges.

The Institute's activities include:

  • Cross-national research projects.
  • Globally focused research that advances trauma informed and human rights perspectives.
  • International scholarly exchanges and teaching collaborations.
  • Training in cross-cultural competence and cultural humility.
  • Hosting special events focused on global social welfare and human rights.
  • International fieldwork, study abroad and service learning. 
  • Advocacy. 

Special Events

Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Challenges in Bosnia and Herzegovina:  Genocide and War Crimes Denial and Triumphalism

Ehlimana Memisevic, PhD, University of Sarajevo; Fulbright Scholar, Vanderbilt University

October 25, 2021
Co-sponsored by the Baldy Center 

Abstract: The 1992–1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina – which involved systematic violence against the ethnic ‘other’ through the genocidal campaigns of ‘ethnic cleansing’– resulted in more than 100,000 deaths, some 2.5 million displaced, 800,000 destroyed homes and the widespread abuse of human rights. Denial of the crimes committed, including genocide, started immediately after or even during the genocide, and it changed forms over the time. In recent years genocide and the war crimes are not only denied, but celebrated and glorified along with its perpetrators. By dehumanising the victims and rehabilitating the perpetrators, denial prevents the wounds inflicted by the genocide from healing and obstructs the reconciliation process. In the words of the prominent genocide scholar, Israel W Charny, in addition to denial responsibility, denials are celebrations of destruction, renewed humiliations of survivors, and metaphorical murders of historical truth and collective memory that increase the risk of the future genocides. Genocide committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina is now used as an inspiration for terrorists and far-right extremists around the world.

Speaker Bio: Ehlimana Memišević, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Legal History and Comparative Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Sarajevo. She holds her BA, MA and PhD in Law from the University of Sarajevo. She is currently a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the College of Arts and Science, at the Vanderbilt University. Her major research fields include genocide studies and legal history.

Current Projects

Focus on Haiti:  Turning the Lens on Media Advocacy and Global Human Rights Perspectives

This project creates curriculum materials (online lesson plan, with recorded video lectures, associated resources, media toolkit and sample assignments) to build the media literacy and media advocacy skills of students, positioning them to better inform audiences, effect change, influence public opinion and policies on global issues.

Funded by the Katherine A. Kendall Institute for International Social Work Education

SUNY Learning Through Development Project in Haiti

The Institute began partnering in 2016 with 19 SUNY campuses in various disciplines and five not-for-profit organizations to work on an innovative project to create a sustainable village and learning community in the town of Arcahaie, Haiti. With a SUNY award from the Kellogg Foundation, the Institute has been tapped to lead the Social Service Sector for the project. A community needs assessment is currently underway. 

The Experience of Transnational Migration: The Effects of Separation on Individuals and Families

Migration is a truly global issue and one of the most complex and least understood social problems. This pilot study aims to explore what it means for individuals and families that are experiencing this disintegration, documenting issues that arise at the intersection of migration and family life. Results will be used to raise awareness and inform the development of higher education curriculum modules in Eastern Europe and the United States.

Funded by the International Association of Schools of Social Work

Teaching Resource

This online learning module is designed to facilitate skills for effective cross cultural communication and collaboration. The very important concept of cultural humility is a central focus. Cultural humility entails acknowledging difference, and positioning ourselves as people interested in learning and understanding.  Cultural humility is particularly relevant to a trauma-informed, human-rights-based approach to social work practice; it underscores the dignity and value of the individual and empowers the client as expert in their experience.

This module can be used as a stand-alone resource for educators, students planning to study abroad or engage in international field work, faculty engaged in cross-cultural research and partnerships, human service practitioners, educators and any other interested parties.  

Because the process of self-reflection is so important for the development of cultural humility, sample reflection exercises are provided.  

Media literacy and media advocacy skills are important for social workers, especially so in the area of international social work. Students must learn how to recognize superficial representations of global issues, and of other regions of the world. They must understand how these misrepresentations can negatively shape public perception, and affect foreign aid and other policy decisions.

This lesson plan provides a blueprint for providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to inform about issues on the international stage, applying a global human rights perspective to educate and influence decision-makers through media outlets that matter to them.  

Request Training on Cultural Competence and Cultural Humility

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The Institute has provided training to a variety of organizations including New York State Association for Rural Health; Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center; Buffalo Stringworks; and, Big Brother Big Sister.

Workshops generally focus on helping participants build their skills for creating effective relationships with people of diverse cultures, and creating inclusive environments. Content is individualized to meet the particular needs of organizations. 

Fees are waived for affiliates of UB. Donations accepted as honoraria for doctoral students that may assist with training.  

Feedback from participants:

  • "The training helped make talking about these topics easier."
  • "Very informative and refreshing!"
  • "Helpful and insightful- helped me realize how I make assumptions about culture."
  • "Emphasis on building relationships very helpful."

Support ISGE

Donate at button below. Funds are used to support community education in cross-cultural competence and cultural humility.