Launch of the Forced Migration Research Network

23 Sep 2016

Today, one in seven people are on the move. For some, this is a choice but for others the displacement is forced due to conflict, discrimination, persecution,? extreme poverty, or environmental disasters. Mobility is a pathway for many in search of safety or better opportunities but it also involves many risks. Given the multifaceted nature of mobility and displacement, a multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral approach to research and its impact on policy and advocacy is required.

In recognition of this increasingly complex area, and the breadth of interdisciplinary work being undertaken across UNSW Arts & Social Sciences, the Forced Migration Research Network (FMRN) was initiated by scholars affiliated with the Centre for Refugee Research (CRR) based in the School of Social Sciences. This network builds on a long history of high impact work undertaken by the CRR and will foster wider collaborations across the different disciplines and Schools within the Faculty to showcase the diversity of innovative work being undertaken.

To mark this new direction and launch the FMRN, a Research Strategy Workshop was held on 16 August 2016. The purpose was to map research being undertaken across the Faculty and to develop a plan for future activities and collaborations.

The response to the workshop invitation exceeded expectations with 34 scholars from across the Faculty registering their interest. 25 scholars attended the workshop with diverse disciplinary interests including:

  • Social Policy
  • Sociology
  • Education
  • Anthropology
  • Art/Cinema/Filmmaking
  • Creative Media/Communications
  • History
  • Law
  • Human Geography
  • Social Work
  • Public Health
  • Politics and Linguistics

Many participants' primary research focus is on (re)settlement issues in Australia, while others have a more global outlook, such as issues of mobility for diverse groups including refugee and asylum seekers, labour migrants, and internal displacement as a result of conflict, development and climate-change. The workshop also highlighted the diversity in methodologies used to study forced migration, including oral histories, creative media and large-scale quantitative modelling. A strong and shared focus was on participatory and rights-based approaches that built on the agency of people on the move.

Key outcomes from the workshop include continued engagement cross-Faculty and plans for a symposium to showcase the network's expertise in early 2017. All participants share common purpose in dually contributing to research knowledge about forced migration and mobility while also improving the perceptions and treatment of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Australia and the region. The Research Strategy Workshop has made an important contribution to the Faculty by profiling the study of refugee, forced migration and mobility as a core strength in Arts & Social Sciences, and highlighted the key role that the FMRN will play in relation to UNSW's Grand Challenge on Refugee and Migrants.