Center for Forced Migration Studies

  • IL

About Us

The Center for Forced Migration Studies at Northwestern University brings together an interdisciplinary group of faculty and students and fosters collaborative networks with organizations and practitioners to contribute an understanding of the condition of refugee movement across state borders, and the international community’s response to refugee needs. The broader study of migration, citizenship, and failed or inadequate state systems contributes to the understanding of the patterns and trends of the protection needs of refugees by offering historical context, enhanced sociological accuracy and greater awareness of the varied nature of the displacement experience. In order to inform policy recommendations, the CFMS focuses on the personal predicaments, needs, challenges and rights of refugees themselves. As such, the connection of documentation and research, with the participation of refugees themselves, to policy and practice is central to the work.

Research: The CFMS conducts multidisciplinary research to safeguard refugee rights and protections guaranteed under international law and, in doing so, seeks to identify gaps in protection needs. Our research focuses on refugee rights and protection in refugee camps and in urban settings and;

•Stems from the voices of refugees through testimony work, field research and innovative technologies that allow for the involvement of refugees themselves.

•Considers the context and underlying causes that contribute to the failures of rights and protection.

•Provides critical approaches to challenge common assumptions and practices.

•Seeks to understand refugee lives and needs in the broader context in which they live (e.g. long term resettlement needs, humanitarian assistance/development etc.)

Documentation: The CFMS’s develops new approaches, strategies and resources to collect expert testimony, documentation of persecution, and violations of the rights of refugees. The CFMS places special focus on categories of persons previously unprotected by international laws such as those fleeing sexual violence, victims of human trafficking, LGBTI and gang-related forms of persecution.

Study: The CFMS provides learning and training opportunities for students, academics, policy makers, practitioners and refugees through our annual summer institute, performance workshops, undergraduate internship program, monthly undergraduate dinner series and film projects.

Outreach: The CFMS contributes to the formation of refugee policy, protection practices and debate through networking, engagement, publication and partnerships.