As Maastricht University enters Period 4 of the 2015/2016 Academic Year, University College Maastricht (UCM) is offering a new course on migration led by the Migration Studies Group at UNU-MERIT, including Melissa Siegel, Özge Bilgili, Michaella Vanore and myself, Katie Kuschminder as the Course Coordinator and Developer. The course was added to the Bachelor’s options in late 2015, and now has more than 80 students enrolled. Here are three key reasons why it is important to study migration:
1. Migration is a Key Issue of Our Time
2015 has been dubbed the Year of Migration. At present, there are close to 250 million migrants in the world. These includes nearly 60 million people who are currently displaced, of which 4 million are Syrian refugees, 4.8 million are Palestinians, and 29 million are internally displaced people. Migration is in many ways all around us. At the same time, it is not necessarily a new phenomenon; people have been moving around the world since the beginning of time. Perhaps it is our reactions and management of migration that are now different. The world today is extremely restrictive for certain groups, and open for others, reflecting our ever increasing global inequality. Consider for instance, having a European passport compared to an Afghan passport. This leads to the second key point of managing migration.
2. Managing Migration is Central to Shaping the Global Future
As 2015 has been dubbed the year of migration, the UN and several scholars are emphasising that the crisis is far from over. So is 2015 the new normal? At present, the migration issue is very Euro- and Syria-centric, but we need to remember that this is a global issue: there are the Rohingya in Asia, decreasing security in Afghanistan, several conflicts in Africa, and protracted displacement of Colombians in Latin America. One million migrants entering Europe in a single year is perhaps not the new normal, but migration is a global issue that is not going away. It requires new structures for global cooperation and governance to address the complexity of migration flows that will be continuing in the near and distant future due to the increasing conflicts, climate change, and complexities in our world.
3. Migration is an Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cutting Issue
Migration is not only about economics, geography or politics. It is simultaneously about all of these subjects and many more. Migration is a security issue, a terrorism issue, a development issue, a governance issue, an issue of climate change, and polarising issue across dinner tables and between citizens. Migration is a complex concept because it challenges State sovereignty and creates a trade-off between human rights and migrants agency versus State structures and State autonomy.
An interdisciplinary institute like UCM is thus the perfect place for such a course to be offered in a multidisciplinary perspective. This course provides an overview of key flows and concepts in migration, enabling students to reflect critically on current events, the language and media portrayal of migration, and the role of migration in our global future. The course is structured around six key topics, including Flows and Concepts; Forced Migration, Internally Displacement and Refugees; Integration and Transnationalism; Irregular and Transit Migration; Return Migration and Reintegration; and Migration and Development.
The Migration Studies team is delighted to work with UCM in delivering this course on migration at UCM, and to continue our excellent collaboration on course development and delivery between our institutes. If you are interested in learning more about migration, please consider our online courses, Migration Specialisation (MSc), or Migration Management Diploma Programme (MMDP).
Flickr / IFRC; UNU / S.Brodin