Connecting the spots

Notes on migration and environment from a geographical perspective

Hannah Schimpl

Hannah Schimpl

Hannah Schimpl is currently an MSc graduate student of geography at the University of Bonn and works as a student assistant at BICC on the project on forced displacement and refugees. Previously, she has had internships at the Global Policy Forum and Asociación Comisión Católica Española de Migración, an NGO working with refugees and migrants, in Madrid.

Dec 5th 2016 by Hannah Schimpl

Towards Mapping Research and Recognizing Gaps on Forced Displacement and Refugees in Germany

One in every 113 people worldwide is affected by forced displacement; reaching a record high of 65 million refugees in 2016. At present it is almost impossible to escape a conversation about refugees, be it in the media, in German and European politics or in society as a whole. Although researchers in Germany have looked at refugee movements, asylum regimes, and displaced persons’ lives for decades, the tenfold increase of refugees arriving in Germany since 2008 has, of course, renewed research interests. The academic field of ‘forced migration/refugee studies’ in Germany is being reconfigured at the moment, and is thus far characterized by great divisions and institutional diversity. Moreover, there is a lack of knowledge transfer between the academic field and policymakers. The BMBF funded project “Forced Migration: Research and Transfer” wants to address this knowledge gap. The project will run for two years and is conducted in co-operation by the Institute for Migration and Integration Studies (IMIS) at the University of Osnabrück and the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC).

The project provides an overview on refugee studies in Germany and aims to build new as well as strengthen existing research networks. This will help to identify potential weak points and gaps on research in specific fields, but also gives researchers and practitioners easy access to already gained information. Dr Olaf Kleist (IMIS) points to the goals that the new research project “Forced Displacement: Research and Transfer” wants to achieve and explains: “The number of projects on displacement and refugees in Germany has risen rapidly in the last two years. While many researchers work alongside each other, they don’t cooperate. There is thus the need to build and strengthen academic networks in this field. Additionally, the results and knowledge of recent research need to be adapted and made available to political decision-makers and practitioners who work with and for refugees.”

Knowledge on forced migration, asylum policies as well as accommodation, integration, and return of refugees will be explored. The project lies at the nexus of research and policy advice and therefore aims to disseminate the generated knowledge to politics, administration, civil society, the media and the public.

While many researchers work alongside each other, they don’t cooperate. There is thus the need to build and strengthen academic networks in this field."

In November the project achieved its first goal and launched the “Flucht: Forschung und Transfer” website. The site contains an interactive research map, showing relevant research projects about forced migration carried out in Germany over the last five years. 435 projects have already been registered in the database and it continues to grow. Keywords allow a targeted search to find out what, for example, is the dominating trend in research about forced displacement in Germany. 252 registered projects are dealing with the issue of integration and participation. Despite the fact that migration, climate change and the environment are interrelated and that migration flows are expected to rise as results of accelerated climate change, there are only 14 registered projects doing research about the climate change-migration nexus in Germany. The interactive map allows users to navigate and find out about individual research institutes as well as research regions. Benjamin Etzold, BICC comments: “Finally, we have a tool at our disposal that allows researchers as well as politicians and practitioners to quickly and easily get an overview of the current research activities on displacement and refugees, which also hopefully allows us to also recognize gaps in our research.”

Finally, we have a tool that allows researchers as well as politicians and practitioners to quickly and easily get an overview of the current research activities on displacement and refugees."

The topics of forced displacement and violent migration, asylum policy as well as accommodation, integration, and return of refugees will be covered by a total of ten detailed reports on the current state-of-the-art of academic debates, important outcomes, and gaps in the research.

The reports will be published and made available to policymakers, administration, civil society, the media, and the public. Moreover, the project seeks to move beyond academic circles and transfer the knowledge gained into recommendations for policy makers, civil society, administration, and public in order to catalyze action. This transfer will be encouraged through workshops and conferences, where both researchers as well as practitioners are invited.

For further information visit: https://www.flucht-forschung-transfer.de/