Groningen Declaration Network Newsletter, Vol. II/ii, Jan 2017  
Article 26 Backpack, from the University of California, Davis
Article 26 Backpack
A Tool for Refugee and Vulnerable Student Mobility

Adrienne Fricke, a primary coordinator of this initiative, will serve as a keynote speaker at the Annual Meeting in Melbourne. Register now!

GDN Signatory AACRAO (the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers) has been working closely with the University of California, Davis' Human Rights Studies. In the summer of 2016, they developed, designed and proposed the Article 26 Backpack – a UC Davis tool for refugee and vulnerable student educational mobility.

This interdisciplinary effort brought together Refugee Studies, Middle East Studies and human rights experts, together with leaders in international academic credentialing, recognition of past learning (including credit evaluations and transfers), and document verification.

"Originally, we came together in response to the specific conditions facing refugee and displaced Syrian young people," explained Adrienne Fricke, a human rights consultant focused on Africa and the Middle East. "We quickly realized the project's potential universal applicability to the needs of vulnerable and non-vulnerable young people alike. Such a tool could quickly emerge as a resource in efforts to expand youth opportunity and empower young people to use digital tools to help even increasingly unequal playing fields in higher education access. Conceiving the tool as universal has the added value of de-stigmatizing its use and preventing the possible abuse of it as a cause of discrimination or human rights violation."

Ms. Fricke, J.D. and Professor Keith David Watenpaugh have directed the No More Lost Generations Project at UC Davis since 2013 in cooperation with the Institute of International Education, and with support from the Carnegie Corporation.

"We deliberately chose the term 'backpack' to emphasize that academic credentials are owned by the student who earned them," Fricke continued. "We decided against using 'passport' and other terms that are typically issued by authorities."

Student-centered is Principle 1 of the Groningen Declaration Network's Statement of Ethical Principles – a document which inspired colleagues working on the Article 26 Backpack.

This infographic (designed by S. Georgakopoulos) displays A26 Backpack's vision of the student's path to secure, confidential storage space for academic documents, with the option of professional credential evaluation, and / or student-initiated permission of access to institutions and organizations.

Article 26 Backpack: A Tool for Refugee and Vulnerable Student Mobility, designed by S. Georgakopoulos
Article 26 Backpack: A Tool for Refugee and Vulnerable Student Mobility

Next steps are contingent on funding. "We intend to create a pilot in the field, at one or two sites of forced displacement," Fricke noted. "We'll collect more data that identify particular challenges in context."

Available and interested individuals are invited to connect with Professor Watenpaugh at