Refugees in Towns
Supporting integration of refugees and host communities
The Refugees in Towns project (RIT) promotes understanding of the migrant/refugee experience in urban settings in the US and around the world. Our goal is to understand and promote refugee integration by drawing on the local knowledge and perspective of refugees and locals, and working with them to develop case studies and reports of the towns in which they live. The project was conceived and is led by Karen Jacobsen, and is based at the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University. It is funded by the Henry J. Leir Foundation.
Our goals are twofold
1. First, by gathering a range of case studies and reports we are amassing a global data base that will help us analyze and understand the process of immigrant/refugee integration. The cases reveal global differences and similarities in the factors that enable and obstruct integration, and the different ways in which migrants and hosts co-exist, adapt, and struggle with integration. We draw our cases from towns in resettlement countries (e.g. the United States); transit countries (e.g. Greece), and countries of first asylum (e.g. Lebanon). Our long-term goal is to build a global theory of integration.
2. Second, the RIT project seeks to support community leaders, aid organizations, and local governments in shaping policy, practice, and interventions. We engage policymakers and community leaders through town visits, workshops, conferences, and participatory research that identifies needs in their communities, encourages dialogue on integration, and shares good practices and lessons learned.
The United States is undergoing a shift in its refugee policies through travel bans and the suspension of parts of its refugee program. Towns across the U.S. are responding differently: some are resisting national policy changes by declaring themselves to be “sanctuary cities," while others are supporting travel bans and exclusionary policies. In this period of social and political change, we need deeper understanding of integration and the ways in which refugees/migrants and their hosts interact. We think that local perspectives on these processes are not well represented in the scholarship on integration. Our RIT project seeks to draw on – and give voice to - the perspectives of both refugees' and hosts in their experiences with integration in the United States and around the world.
For more information, you are encouraged to read the latest article on the RIT project by Prof. Karen Jacobsen:
The RIT Team
- Principal Investigator Prof. Karen Jacobsen has built the RIT project on her 25+ years of internationally-recognized expertise in the field of forced migration.
- Program Administrator Charles Simpson draws on managerial and field experience with transnational forced migration research projects in the Middle East, the Balkans, and Western Europe.
- A range of experts make up the RIT Advisory Group, which provides guidance, review and regional expertise.
- Our case study researchers and writers include refugees and practitioners who provide our localized perspectives on refugee-hosting communities around the world. Case study researchers and writeres also link us to aid organizations, refugee community organizations and municipal governments.