Selcuk Sirin

New York University, USA

Organization Focus
In 2013, I led the first research team to document the educational and mental health needs of Syrian refugee children. Our work (Sirin & Rogers-Sirin, 2015) provided the foundation for the first comprehensive report on Syrian refugee children’s well-being. In order to address the needs, we identified in our first report, I led a second international team of researchers, including top innovators in the field of game-based learning, to design an intervention for refugee children. Project Hope is an online platform that enables children to play videogames anywhere in the world with an internet connection (Sirin et al., 2018).

My plans with the 2018 Klaus J. Jacobs Award
I am ambitious in terms of my goals for the next phase of our work with refugee children: I aim to reach thousands of children within the next five years. In order to make this a reality, I plan to build a non-profit organization that will make online learning available as a viable alternative learning opportunity for disadvantaged children, including refugee children. Specifically, I will devote my time over the next year to bring together game developers, educators and non-profit workers serving children in emergency settings, and develop an optimal digital game-based online learning platform.

How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
As a native of Turkey with the privileges of a tenured professor in the US, I have an ethical responsibility to fight for social justice both in the US and globally. In order to fulffil that responsibility, I conducted the first empirical study on Muslim American youth to document the effects of Islamophobia, I completed longitudinal studies with children of immigrants to document the effects of anti-immigrant sentiments in the US, and I have dedicated my career to the betterment of Syrian refugee children living in Turkey. I am eager to create innovative learning solutions for those children in need.