Cross-cutting electives

Cross-cutting electives are taken by all AHEEN students, irrespective of their diploma specialization. These electives are built around frameworks for 21st Century skills and Social-Emotional learning (SEL); they promote a comprehensive SEL approach that includes the arts, sports and STEM into a holistic model.

1. Critical thinking in an African context

The learning objectives of the Critical Thinking Elective are embedded in the AHEEN students’ lived experience and include:

  • Examining how knowledge is built up, examined, and evaluated by individuals
  • Fostering intercultural understanding in order to become responsible citizens both in their own communities and globally
  • Developing self-awareness and a sense of identity
  • Developing clear, relevant and coherent arguments
  • Exploring how knowledge is built in a knowledge-based economy, to understand

its implications in different contexts and to develop genuine models of local knowledge production

  • Reflecting on their role as thinkers
  • Exploring links between critical thinking and real life situations

Modules in this elective will cover epistemology, African identity, Refugee/IDP identity, research methods and application and assessment through experiential learning.

2. SEL – Design thinking

To unleash design thinking in refugee contexts, displaced learners participating in social emotional learning (SEL) programs can access multiple mechanisms by which they can build on and demonstrate their resilience. This cross-cutting elective brings together the Arts, Sports and Engineering to provide a unique and holistic pathway for learners to reassert control over their environment, demonstrate agency and decision-making, build strong social connections, and take on crucial roles in their communities, all while developing complementary professional (“21st century”) skills.

Applied Arts

Applied Arts (YES) encourages student-participants in responsible citizenship by fostering opportunities for them to serve as ambassadors to their communities through the development and implementation of regular creative projects. The refugee-driven creative projects, which use the Arts to focus on finding shared narratives as well as exploring and celebrating narratives of difference, are peace-building in nature. They allow learners to build the skills they need and apply them within their communities. The Arts projects, in connecting people constructively by giving them a shared goal in the creative processes, empower communities to create positive and peaceful linkages and connections between diverse individuals and across languages and cultures. The Arts, while honoring each individual’s uniqueness, also levels the group as they gather around a common goal of creation. As they learn to listen, communicate clearly and respectfully, compromise, and resolve conflicts within the creative process, they develop the transferable SEL-skills needed for creating peaceful communities that are equipped to resolve conflicts.

Localized Engineering in Displacement

The Localized Engineering in Displacement module (DeBoerLab@Purdue & Moi) integrated into the Design Thinking Elective offers authentic engineering learning opportunities that can service as a vehicle for community development while simultaneously expanding the representation of engineers to explicitly include marginalized, displaced learners. The course curriculum integrates technical content, professional skills, and engineering design, all within a framework of SEL. The pedagogy is active, blended, collaborative, and democratic, built on foundational work in critical pedagogy. Prior research evidence shows that students demonstrate higher self-efficacy and other competencies after participating in the engineering program. For example, collaborative learning enhances learners’ relationship skills, and engineering design activities develop decision-making skills. As a result of the course, students develop not only relevant knowledge and social emotional skills individually and collectively, but they also construct the community makerspace, create a plan for its maintenance and implementation, and document their processes.

Sports for protection and development module

The Sports for protection and development module (YES) builds on the understanding that when youth are given meaningful opportunities to participate, they will use their energy and creativity to initiate positive change in their lives and communities. To facilitate this a youth intervention needs to help young people develop necessary skills and resources, support them to use their skills to contribute to their own physical and emotional development and that of their community, and to ensure that young people receive support and guidance through mentors and coaches. The assumption is that students engaged in the present module will reach these outcomes, while their mentors and coaches benefit from professional development as teachers in crisis contexts. The module comprises the following objectives: 1. Sport for protection; 2. Sport to support mental and physical well-being in stressful living environments (SEL); 3. Sport to support life-long learning (SDG4) and retention of youth in education; 4. Refugee-managed programming in humanitarian contexts; and, wherever possible, 5. The integration of refugees and host community citizens through sports.

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