Floyd, Zeller win $16,000 Freeman Foundation grant

(Feb. 22, 2013) LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Senior McConnell Scholars will travel to Malaysia to study the Chin refugee crisis.
Floyd, Zeller win $16,000 Freeman Foundation grant

Michael Zeller and Meagan Floyd

Meagan Floyd and Michael Zeller won a $16,000 grant from the Freeman Foundation and associated ASIANetwork. The funding will finance a summer-long research project on the Chin refugee crisis in Malaysia under the direct supervision of Jason Abbott, PhD, of the University of Louisville's Political Science Department.

In June, Floyd and Zeller will travel to Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia, and conduct observational and statistical research with refugees, government officials and organizations concerned with the crisis. Upon their return to the U.S., the pair will draft a research article for publication on models for refugee crisis revolution via the network of non-traditional entities (non-governmental organizations).

Below is their project proposal abstract:

The rights of refugee people are best enshrined in the United Nations 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees. The convention stipulates host countries ensure the access to education, work, and healthcare. However, the majority of today’s refugee populations reside in countries that are non-signatories to the convention. The lack of state involvement, often coupled with government-sanctioned oppression, leaves a void which organs of the United Nations and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) attempt to fill. What models for resolution or improvement are employed by the U.N. and NGOs in these situations to enhance the daily lives of refugees?

Malaysia, a non-signatory to the convention, classifies refugees in the country as illegal migrants. This is extremely problematic given the large populations of refugees residing in the country. The objective of this proposal is to study the organizations working to help the Chin Burmese, a large population of refugees struggling in squalid jungle camps outside of Putrajaya, Malaysia. The project will focus extensive research and interviews of the Malaysian government, regional U.N. operations and the four main NGOs in the area, as well as the refugees directly affected by the efforts of the aforementioned groups. The methods employed to promote refugee rights and fill the void left by the host government will provide models of resolution that can be employed by organizations across the globe.

Floyd, of Louisville, Ky., is studying political science and social change at the University of Louisville. Zeller, also of Louisville, is studying political science, history and Russian studies at UofL.