Global Migration

Global Migration at the Kenan Institute for Ethics combines faculty and student-led research, innovative educational programs, and partnerships with practitioners and communities.

Global Migration students, researchers, and practitioners aim to create a better understanding of displacement, voluntary and forced migration, and refugee camp life and third-country resettlement, as well as shape debates about immigration and citizenship policy in the United States and abroad.


Bass Connections Research Team. The newest partnership for the program is connected to Bass Connections, Duke’s newest interdisciplinary research initiative composed of vertically-integrated working groups. The “Displacement, Resettlement and Global Mental Health in the Middle East” working group is a joint effort of The Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke Global Health Institute, and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies. The group has been examining archived refugee research from DukeImmerse: Uprooted/Rerouted as well as conducting new research with Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Jordan, expanding to new populations of displaced peoples. Read about their work last year on the project blog.

Kenan Refugee Project. A unique partnership with UNHCR has allowed Institute researchers to interview Bhutanese refugees in refugee camps in Nepal and to follow up with some of these refugees in Durham, North Carolina, where they have resettled. Institute researchers have also worked with Iraqi refugees living throughout the greater Cairo area and Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Histories, Diasporas, and Minority Rights in Globalized Nation States. Two initiatives in collaboration with the Center for European Studies at Duke explore new comparative global approaches to the study of Jewish and Muslim communities abroad as well as reasonable accommodations for minorities in a global context. Supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, several workshops and panels have been held.

Internship with the World Food Programme in Nepal. Each summer, a Duke student has received the chance to work with this United Nations program on issues of outreach, implementation, and research. Read as 2013 intern Virginia Dillon and 2014 intern Elizabeth Hoyler addressed challenges in international aid generally as well as those specific to conditions in Nepal.



DukeImmerse Uprooted/Rerouted. This intensive program combines interdisciplinary coursework and research ethics together with a month of field work with refugees abroad. Students’ work with the DukeImmerse program includes observational essays and recited narratives adapted from interviews with refugees in the field. You can read the student’s writing in the 2012 magazine and the 2013 web resource. You can watch all of the students’ readings of the narratives on the Kenan Institute for Ethics Youtube channel.

DukeEngage Dublin. Together with community partners such as New Communities PartnershipEducate TogetherRefugee Access Programme, and the Dublin City Council Office for Integration, students collaborate to address the many challenges faced by migrants and refugees in Ireland. Throughout their time, the students reflect on their experiences and observations. These writings are published in the independent weekly publication MetroEirean; read letters home from 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Focus Cluster: Ethics, Leadership & Global CitizenshipThe goals of this Focus cluster are for participants to develop a critical yet actionable understanding of the concept of “citizenship”—its historical origins, ethical implications, and contemporary global challenges—for both individuals and institutions–and to develop the crucial tools of moral dialogue necessary for lifelong engagement as thoughtful citizens and ethical leaders.



MASTERY. Mentorship, Academics, and Self-esteem: Tutoring and Engaging with Refugee Youth (MASTERY) is a weekly K-12 tutoring program for refugee youth in Durham. This ongoing program, led by Kenan Institute for Ethics students Cece Mercer and Rosie Nowhitney, pairs Duke undergraduate tutors and refugee students with the goal of providing mentorship, assistance with schoolwork, English tutoring, and a supportive community.

SuWA (Supporting Women’s Action). This student-organized community effort works to empower refugee women in Durham through education and community building. Weekly meetings provide English classes for Arabic speakers, community-oriented events for families, and focus groups to facilitate cultural expression and mobilize community action.



A panel on the ethics of photography organized in partnership with the UN Refugee Agency around the exhibit Nowhere People: The Face of Global Statelessness. The panel featured exhibit photographer Greg Constantine and Charity Tooze of the UNHCR.

Academic conferences and symposia including  “Perspectives on Migration, Governance, and Citizenship” together with Duke Law School and “Conflict, Migration and Humanitarianism: The Ethics and Politics of Intervention,” organized by Postdoctoral Fellow Nadia El-Shaarawi.

The Brookings-Duke Immigration Roundtable, which addressed the implicit trade-offs and assumptions underlying the current immigration debate and generated policy recommendations that better reflect the wide range of views Americans have on immigration.

Moralities of Migration, a global series of workshops and conferences exploring ethical aspects of migration past, present, and future.

Refugees, Rights, Resettlement, Duke’s 2012 Winter Forum, a three-day conference involving students, academics, government and NGO leaders, and the local refugee community.