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 ref:EU | Muslim minorities and the refugee crisis in Europe

The ref:EU project – “Muslim minorities and the refugee crisis in Europe” is an international project that combines academic and educational perspective carried out by the Middle East and Central Asia Unit and the Department of Political Studies of the Warsaw School of Economics (SGH) within Jean Monnet Activities of the EU Programme Erasmus+.
The project is an answer to the growing intolerance against Muslim minorities (and those perceived as Muslim) in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), fuelled by the refugee crisis in Europe. The EU member states from this region showed (to a varying degree) political reluctance to accept any refugees, despite often belonging to the top EU enthusiasts. Moreover, negative sentiments towards Muslims, as well as ethic and religious Others grew significantly stronger, leading to acts of violence. This is particularly disturbing as there are hardly any third country nationals, not to mention Muslims in those states. In other words, intolerance is widespread against people who are hardly even there.
The aims of the project are therefore as follows:
  • Providing teaching tools for counteracting and counterbalancing Islamophobia and any other “phobias” related to migrants/refugees/asylum seekers, and “distant Others” in the EU member states, 
  • Understand and explain the reasons for the current wave of Islamophobia and its relations with the European refugee crisis.
The outputs of the ref:EU project are centred around two core set of activities, each responding to one of the aims: a workshop (related to aim 1) and a scientific conference (related to aim 2). The detailed list of outputs is as follows.
  • Aim 1:
    • An intensive workshop for 20 young researchers, professionals and activists on Muslim minorities and Islamophobia with a focus on the CEE; 
    • At least 20 follow up activities, i.e. events organised by the workshop participants (1) in their home countries (in total 600 participants targeted); 
    • A project website with teaching units prepared by the workshop trainers (1) and workshop participants basing on their follow up activities (2) accessible online to be used by teachers or educators; 
  • Aim 2: 
    • An international conference about Muslim minorities and the refugee crisis in Europe for around 100 participants; 
    • An academic book published in English comprising papers from the conference and some other chapters on Muslim minorities and the refugee crisis in Europe; 
    • A series of 16 local events on Muslim minorities and the refugee crisis in Europe (in total 640 local participants targeted).
The project is planned for 24 months and will target over 1300 participants. The ref:EU team consists of scientists and professionals from Polish and foreign academic institutions with a wide range of profiles and research interests including: European studies, Islamic studies, media studies, migration studies and psychology. The team members work in the EU member states (Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, UK), Russian Federation (Tatarstan) and Tunisia.

The Team

Katarzyna Górak-Sosnowska - Associate professor in the MECAU at the Warsaw School of Economics. She earned her habilitation (post-PhD) in the study of religion (Jagiellonian University) and PhD in economics (Warsaw School of Economics). Her research interests include Islam and Muslims in Poland and wider Europe. She published 5 books including: Deconstructing Islamophobia in Poland (2014) and Muzułmańska kultura konsumpcyjna [Muslim consumer culture] (2011). Apart from academic work for over a decade she has been actively engaged in non-formal education as a trainer, mostly around the Polish National Commission for UNESCO project In the world of Islam – a series of workshops for students and later teachers across Poland; her other project Euro-Arab Youth Workshop was nominated by the EC as the best Polish youth project in 2008. She also initiated and developed a variety of teaching materials for intercultural education. She was involved in preparation of the OSCE Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance against Muslims in education (2012). In 2012 she was awarded with a distinction for popularising science by the Ministry of Higher Education and Polish Press Agency.

Jan Misiuna – graduate of the University of Warsaw (Institute of Political Science and American Studies Center) and Warsaw School of Economics (Ph.D. from the Collegium of Socio-Economics). He is an experienced university instructor and researcher in broadly understood International Studies. He has worked as an translator and interpreter (English-Polish), editor and journalist. Member of staff in Polish European Community Studies Association projects, including Academy of Young European I and II, EuInteg and Edushare as well as key member of the team in the ALIEN project (Advanced Learning and Inclusive EnviroNment for Higher Education through greater knowledge and understanding of migration processes). Recipient of several Ministry of Science grants for young researchers and of the Warsaw School of Economics’ Rector Prize for Academic Excellence (twice)..

Marta Pachocka – PhD in Economics (2013) and Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Studies of the Collegium of Socio-Economics at the SGH Warsaw School of Economics (since 2014). Researcher & Assistant Professor at the Centre of Migration Research of the University of Warsaw since 2016. She graduated in 2010 from SGH with a double MA (1. international relations, 2. marketing and management) and from CEMS Master’s in International Management Programme. She studied Master 1 Monde Musulman at Sciences Po Paris (2008) as an exchange student (Erasmus Scholarship). She has been involved in many national and international research and educational projects including Jean Monnet projects coordinated by PECSA (“Académie du Jeune Européen” in 2013–2014 and “EuInteg” in 2014–2015) and ECSA-Moldova (2015–2018) as a key staff member. Jean Monnet Module Holder of EUMIGRO – “Jean Monnet Module on the European Union and the Contemporary International Migration – an Interdisciplinary Approach” (2016–2019). Coordinator of EUSHARE – “Connecting the European Union of Shared Aims, Freedoms, Values and Responsibilities” (2016–2019) conducted by the Polish European Community Studies Association (PECSA) under Jean Monnet Support to Associations. Key staff member of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at the Warsaw School of Economics (CEWSE) since 2016. Secretary of the Polish European Community Studies Association (PECSA). Member of PTE, UACES, IPSA, IMISCOE, IASFM, AIELF..

Irena Senator – earned her MA in marketing and management at the Warsaw School of Economics, and since 1998 has been working at the Dean’s Office of Master Studies as senior specialist, currently as the head of the Dean’s Office. In 2017 she was involved in a research project on managing students’ affairs at dean’s offices (head: Katarzyna Górak-Sosnowska). She is a part of project’s management team and deals with administrative issues.


 basic information

Title of the project: ref:EU | Muslim minorities and the refugee crisis in Europe

Funding: Jean Monnet Project, co-funded  by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

Team: prof. SGH dr hab. Katarzyna Górak-Sosnowska (coordinator), dr Jan Misiuna, dr Marta Pachocka, mgr Irena Senator