Julie Kornfeld (BS11) Publishes Senior Honors Thesis

Julie Kornfeld

A thesis written by Julie Kornfeld (BS11) as a SESP senior honors student was recently published in a widely read publication focusing on refugee issues. Kornfeld’s article in the December issue of Forced Migration Review is entitled “Overseas Cultural Orientation Programmes and Resettled Refugees’ Perceptions."

The article reports her research findings on the role of cultural orientation programs in overseas refugee camps and how they shape perceptions of resettlement in U.S. society. The University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre publishes Forced Migration Review three times a year in English, French, Spanish and Arabic, and the magazine claims to be the world’s most widely read publication on refugee, displacement and statelessness issues.

Kornfeld found that despite widespread participation in cultural orientation programs, resettled refugees often have misconceptions about their potential for self-sufficiency in the United States. Her research shows that refugees experience adjustment problems after their arrival, and making changes to these programs could improve outcomes of the refugee resettlement process.

As an honors student in social policy at SESP, Kornfeld designed and implemented her research project over three quarters, traveling to Ethiopia to do research and writing a thesis based on her findings. She was a student of Dean Penelope Peterson and graduate assistant Michelle Wilkerson. Kornfeld’s thesis adviser was Gayla Ruffer, program director of International Studies at Northwestern, and her readers were Medill professor Jack Doppelt and SESP associate professor Eva Lam.

After graduation, Kornfeld was a Princeton in Africa fellow, working as in Uganda as a program assistant with the Lutheran World Federation. The Federation responds to the needs of poor and marginalized communities in high-risk environments in Uganda, focusing on emergency response and capacity building for community-based organizations. She applied for the fellowship because she wanted to do work in East Africa related to international human rights and conflict and post-conflict zone resolution and response.

Kornfeld is currently working for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a humanitarian assistance organization, and is applying to law school. Her goal is to study international human rights law and immigration law.

During college, Kornfeld studied abroad in Uganda through Northwestern’s International Program Development program, and she won an Undergraduate Research Grant to conduct her research in Ethiopia on the forces shaping refugee perceptions.

Kornfeld is passionate about international human rights, especially related to forced migration in the conflict zones of East Africa. She credits SESP and Northwestern for helping her to focus her broad interest in human rights specifically on East Africa, forced migration, and conflict and post-conflict zones.

Caption: As a Northwestern student Julie Kornfeld (BS11) studied in Uganda and researched her recently published thesis in Ethiopia.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 12/7/12