Virginia Tech launches a project on international refugee research

2018-04-02T17:28:50+00:00 November 14th, 2017|

A multi-disciplinary team of VT faculty, alumni and students met on October 26-27 at the Arlington Research Center to report findings of their research on refugees. They were joined by representatives of the policy-making community (USDOS, DHS, and Senate staffers), non-governmental institutions working with refugee populations (Catholic Charities, NOVA Friends of Refugees, US Conference of Catholic Bishops), research institutions in the DC metro area (Migration Policy Institute), law firms representing the interests of refugees, and UNHCR, The workshop was organized by the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) and the Global Forum for Urban and Regional Resilience. Global Forum generously sponsored the workshop.
The workshop is a first stage in a project bringing together international institutions with a focus on providing research to impact policy, educating students through experiential learning, and serving refugee communities. Collaborative scholarship to practice is the underling philosophy of this project. Hokies from across Blacksburg and National Capital Region campuses came together to report their findings on the question of refugee integration in their communities.

Representatives from SPIA, political science, international studies, history, English, the Center for Rhetoric in Society, the Biocomplexity Institute, the Office of Outreach and International Affairs, the department of agriculture, leadership, and community education, the marriage and family therapy program, Pathway Programs, architecture, department of human development, science and technology in society, and economics reported research and resulting policy recommendations on a variety of refugee communities.
From Japan to the U.S., to Europe, the Middle East, and to Kenya, researchers engaged the issue of integration: how we understand it, how we measure it, how we make sense of it in a way that crosses the boundaries of research and education into policy impact and service.

Undergraduate students presented the results of a summer project funded by the Global Forum, looking at integration in the Roanoke area. PhD candidates presented preliminary work related to their dissertations. The variety of countries facing an influx of refugees, and the diversity of the refugee situations made the workshop exchanges rich, interesting, and relevant for local policy impact.

Our interesting panel discussions included:

Panel 1 (moderated by Guru Ghosh)- Factoring Refugees in Integration Efforts by Katrina Powell, Katherine Randall, Brett Shadle, Jake Keyel, Kee Jeong Kim and Hamza Safouane

Panel 2 (moderated by Jim Bohland)- Inter-agency Coordination of Refugee Integration by Deborah Milly, Laura McCarter and Gary Kirk

Lunch panel is focused on Exploring Refugee Civic Engagement through Field Research in Roanoke by Rebecca Hester, Jennalee Beazly, Nala Chehade, Tyneshia Griffin and Coquina Restrepo

Panel 3 (moderated by Jennifer Lawrence)- Institutional Themes and Processes in Refugee Integration by Max Stephenson Jr., Emily Barry-Murphy, Georgeta Pourchot, Dawn Cutler, Sabith Khan

Panel 4 (moderated by Mark Orr)- Methodology and Data Integrity by Christian Matheis, Eli Jamison, Claire Kelling, Madhav Marathe and Samarth Swarup.

Presentations and discussions led by Chris Barrett from Biocomplexity Institute on National Security and Human Migration, Implications for Policy; and Larry Yungk from UNHCR Washington International Refugees and Resettlement.

In the next phase, VT researchers will report their findings to an international conference in Munich, in 2018, where they will be joined by their international partners, who organized similar exchanges within their own institutions. International partners include University of Kent, Brussels, Bundeswher University, Munich, Antwerp Management School, and University of Bucharest, Romania. The Office for Outreach and International Affairs is generously funding travel for this conference.

For more information, contact SPIA director. Prof. Anne Khademian, akhademi@vt.edu, or Dr. Georgeta Pourchot, georgeta@vt.edu.