The Community Mobilization in Crisis project, headquartered at the University of Ottawa and in collaboration with the American University of Beirut, works to enhance the resilience and strength of refugee and host communities in Lebanon, as well as marginalized communities elsewhere, through community mobilization, a process that builds community through participatory, sustained initiatives where community members plan, carry out, and evaluate projects to meet their needs and improve their wellbeing.

Mobilized networks benefit entire communities through progressive change (toward goals like gender justice), inclusive program development, and local and international appreciation for the creativity, innovation, and contributions of people in crisis. Community-led initiatives are more effective and appropriate, and less costly than top-down interventions for immediate and structural needs. In refugee contexts, for instance, our program can further host-refugee community cohesion, as well as self-reliance, resilience, and empowerment.

To that end, we aim to create open-source, multilingual resources that community organizations and educational institutions can use to develop the necessary skills for community mobilization work, as well as to offer educational programs that will provide students drawn from these communities with the skills and tools to help communities identify their own needs and priorities, use available resources, build resilience and become agents of their own community-based solutions.

The resources are made by, with and for people in crisis, as we co-create and co-deliver dynamic resources and networks in multiple languages (English, Arabic and French, to date), online and offline, with solid credentials, on accessible digital platforms, and through ‘stackable’ modules, so that even interrupted studies are recognised and validated. In addition, materials can be integrated into existing programs, with civil society organizations and/or international and local educational institutions, to create a wider social and geographic reach.

By combining in-class and community based learning with online technology and tools, CMIC aims to not only provide refugee populations with access to higher education but to improve the capacity of refugees to become agents of change in their own communities, particularly in areas where government services have broken down.