RIT is a global network of locally-rooted individuals working toward refugee integration in towns and urban neighborhoods.
Feinstein International Center
Karen Jacobsen founded the RIT Project in 2017 in response to rising exclusivist rhetoric toward forced migration in the U.S. and abroad, building the RIT upon 25+ years of expertise on forced migration, including work as head of the Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS) in Geneva from 2013-2014, and as Director of The Alchemy Project from 2000-2005.
Through the RIT project, Prof. Jacobsen aims to bring informed, balanced, and localized support for refugee integration to towns and urban neighborhoods around the world.
Prof. Jacobsen directs the RIT project as part of the Feinstein International Center’s Refugees and Forced Migration Program, while working in her position as Henry J. Leir Professor of Global Migration at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy's Institute for Human Security. Prof. Jacobsen received her B.A. from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, her M.A. from Northeastern University, and her PhD in Political Science from MIT.
Feinstein International Center
Charles Simpson provides organization to RIT, developing the project’s methodology; selecting and managing case studies; developing and maintaining RIT's connections with researchers, participants, and experts in the field; and analyzing and disseminating RIT's findings.
In addition to organizational capacity, Mr. Simpson brings to RIT expertise in social resilience, migration policy, urban studies, and qualitative field research from prior work as Assistant Director of the Boston Consortium for Arab Region Studies (BCARS), a Carnegie Corporation project.
In this role, Mr. Simpson managed policy analysis, field research teams, workshops, and conferences on the Syrian refugee crisis in the Middle East, Turkey, the Balkans, the E.U., and the U.S., collaborating with the UNHCR, U.S. Department of State, European Commission, local and national governments, and universities and think tanks around the world. Mr. Simpson holds an M.S. in security and resilience studies, Summa Cum Laude, and a B.A. in international affairs, Magna Cum Laude, from Northeastern University.
The RIT advisory group provides technical and methodological advice on case studies, facilitates contacts in case site communities, and assist in engaging with policymakers.
RIT benefits from a diverse range of case study researchers (who conduct academic research on a city) and case report writers (who provide writing on their own personal experiences with integration) in cities and towns around the world. Each of RIT's cases rely on at least one localized individual with a personal history, social presence, and deep contextual knowledge of the community they are describing. These individuals provide both data for the project, and relevance for its findings by connecting RIT to practitioners, refugee and host community leaders, civil society actors, and municipal government representatives.
We would like to acknowledge and thank our many localized refugee contributors around the world who are not listed here to protect their identities.
Agyead Abu Zayed: Irbid, Jordan
Madeeha Ansari: Islamabad, Pakistan
Leila Asadi: Detroit, Michigan, USA
Taj Haroun: Tel Aviv, Israel
Allyson Hawkins: Amman, Jordan
Mohamad Kasra: Thessaloniki, Greece
Osman Mohammad: Thessaloniki, Greece
Mwaona Nyirongo: Johannesburg, South Africa
Victoria Rios Infante: Monterrey, Mexico
Cordelia Rizzo: Monterrey, Mexico
Joanna Terzi: Thessaloniki, Greece
Michelle Vargas: San José, Costa Rica
Katerina Voutsina: Athens, Greece
Gina Walker: Tel Aviv, Israel
Saidouri Zomaya: Albany Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA