Ongoing Projects

Migration Policy on the Run

In recent years, we have conducted extensive research on the living conditions and perspectives of refugees. In this context, Laila Keeling, Anjali Zyla, Sahba Salehi, Nadia Lejaille and Hans Blokland, among others, have spoken to a wide range of refugees. Some of the relevant interviews have been published here on our website. In addition, quantitative data were collected and social workers, volunteers, representatives of civil society organizations, civil servants and policy makers were interviewed. All this material has now been analyzed by Hans Blokland, and on this basis a large number of policy recommendations have been formulated. The final product, Migrationspolitik auf der Flucht (Migration Policy on the Run), will be published by Transcript Verlag in Bielefeld in November 2023. From the cover text:

Migration and integration are inextricably linked to many fundamental social and political issues: Identity, belonging, discrimination, emancipation, diversity, cohesion, solidarity, responsibility, social order, and social policy. Hans Blokland focuses on the perceptions and experiences of refugees, professionals, volunteers, and policy decision makers in a district in Brandenburg and derives from this and derives more general insights about migration, integration and the challenges associated with it. Overall, he paints a rather troubling picture that highlights the convulsiveness and anxiety of most Western nations in dealing with migration.

Deliberations with Newcomers

In 2023, we again implement series of workshops with refugees. As in previous years, we will discuss themes like democracy, freedom, pluralism, civil society, identity, discrimination, racism, gender equality and homosexuality. With the support of the Partnerschaft für Demokratie in Teltow-Fläming and the German Red Cross we will implement fifteen workshops with recently arrived refugees in Wünsdorf (Brandenburg). For an interview about the previous project in 2020 click here. A short report on this project is here. An article on the deliberative ideas behind these workshops is here.

Empowering Refugee Children

After successfully implementing a children’s project in 2022 with support from the Deutschen Kinderhilfswerk, we significantly expanded our activities in this area in 2023. The original project in Rangsdorf was first extended with the support of the Kinderhilfswerk, and then continued with the support of the Municipality of Rangsdorf. Reports of this can be found here and here. In addition, the Deutsche Postcode Lottery (FA-11408) supported the formation of four similar groups in Teltow Stadt (2), Ludwigsfelde and Werder. The ideas behind the project are that refugee and trauma experiences, language deficits, living conditions in shelters and non-attendance at day care centers lead to significantly lower educational opportunities and future prospects for refugee children. Groups of 10 children each aged 5 to 10 were therefore formed with children from transitional homes. For six months, they are supervised for 2-3 hours a week by two social pedagogues. The focus is on strengthening self-determination, self-control and language skills, creative play and getting to know the outside world.


Interviews with refugees

Although newcomers have regularly been among us for years, citizens, politicians and policymakers often have little idea of the personal backgrounds of these people. This causes not only loneliness, misunderstanding and antagonism. A consequence is also that integration is unnecessarily hampered and that policies aimed at this are less effective than they could be. To gain more insight into backgrounds, we conducted a large number of in-depth interviews with newcomers. Originally, this was done in the context of our project in Teltow-Fläming in Brandenburg in which we investigate the living situation of more than a thousand refugees and try to improve this situation with all stakeholders involved. We asked many questions: why did the people come, what was their life like before, what expectations did they have, what do they want to achieve in Germany, what are their experiences so far, what problems do they face, what solutions do they see for this? Visit the interviews here. In November 2023 Transcript Verlag will publish a collection of these interviews, as well as an analysis of common themes and policy recommendations.


Further training on discrimination and racism

In Germany, people are excluded, threatened or attacked because of their origin or other characteristics. This ranges from everyday discrimination to hate speech on the Internet to violent attacks and murder. Not only schools are affected. Public agencies such as job centers, social welfare offices, residents’ registration offices and civil society organizations are also confronted with “Group-related misanthropy”. Employees and volunteers must be enabled to react adequately and to question their own unconscious mechanisms.

But what exactly are the mechanisms behind such behaviors and thought patterns?  How do prejudices arise? How do we recognize discrimination? What can we learn from historical examples and their reappraisal? As in the previous years, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is supporting our two-day training sessions on discrimination and racism. This event aims to inform educators, employees in institutions and organizations and volunteers in civil society organizations in detail about racism and discrimination as well as other forms of group-related hostility towards people and to educate them about the socio-psychological, historical and sociological backgrounds. Furthermore, we want to impart skills and conversation strategies in order to be able to deal with it better in everyday professional life, but also in private and in civil society. The discussion strategies should help to change perspectives, to expose mechanisms and inconsistent argumentation, and to provide arguments to refute group-related misanthropy.


Empowering Refugee Girls

On top of children groups, in 2023 we have worked with two groups for girls aged 12 to 17. It goes without saying that young people of this age are confronted with special problems, especially if they have a migration background and have to combine the cultural demands of the family at home and the society and peer group in the outside world. The groups offer a protected space in which all relevant problems can be discussed with each other and in which the two counselors can provide the girls with advice and support. A report can be found here.