Learning the lessons of successful integration, Malmö University part of European research project
How can collaboration between civil society networks and regional and municipal authorities help to strengthen the integration of migrants and refugees? What is required for integration to be successful? Malmö University is about to take part in an extensive European research project – the only Swedish centre of education to do so.
Malmö University has been awarded a grant of five million kronor from The Swedish Research Council Formas to work with researchers at universities in Scotland, Italy and Cyprus. It is part of an effort to examine ‘successful’ integration in greater depth. Associate Professor Erica Righard, together with a post-doc, will lead the Swedish side of the study, which is due to commence this summer.
Research bases across Europe
“We will investigate on a local level the various ways in which refugees are received,” said Erica Righard. “The selection of universities and regions is based on differing conditions. Calabria in southern Italy and Cyprus are often the first landing points in the EU for migrants and refugees, although their ultimate destinations are the United Kingdom and Sweden. In many cases, it is the United Kingdom and Sweden where migrants and refugees would ideally like to become established and build a life.”
Researchers will work with Urban Living Labs, which involves seeking out grass root environments, such as schools, workplaces and NGOs, that receive migrants and refugees. The researchers in Sweden will therefore be working with the City of Malmo, the County Administrative Board, Region Skåne and various NGOs as part of a qualitative study.
“This research project has been inspired by Welcoming Cities in Calabria,” continued Erica Righard. “A large number of the towns and villages in this area of Italy were faced with the problem of a declining population. Now many of them have begun to thrive again as migrants move into abandoned houses, and small companies and shops are given a new lease of life. Similar examples are to be found in Sweden in the Göinge area in northern Skåne and in Värmland.
Results to be widely available
“This research project will focus firmly on the challenges facing society,” Erica Righard explained. “Whilst it is essentially applied research, it also involves creating meaning and disseminating the results. Apart from being published in scientific journals, the knowledge and experience that emerge from the research will also be presented in popular science contexts, such as exhibitions, brochures and a constantly evolving website.
“It’s not just about providing feedback to the scientific community, but also feedback to the groups that are actually affected,” Erica Righard concluded.