The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) today announces a new Field Research Programme to find out more about one of the most pressing, yet understudied, global issues today. This is a new initiative for the Society, which commits to raising between £500,000 and £1m.
‘Migrants on the margins’ is a three-year project, involving researchers from UK universities and a number of international research partners. It focuses on migration and the vulnerability of migrants in some of the world’s most pressured cities, including Colombo (Sri Lanka), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Harare (Zimbabwe) and Hargeisa (Somaliland).
This project was selected after the Society’s 16,500 members and Fellows were asked which geographical issues were most in need of field-based research. Three topics were identified and an open call for proposals was made. ‘Migrants on the margins’ was unanimously recommended by a Steering Group and approved by the Society’s Council.
Recent research has shown that most people moving away from humanitarian crisis only move short distances and often into marginal urban areas that are just as fragile as those they are trying to escape. It is then all too easy for the migrants to become trapped.
“These movements are some of the most important and least studied migration patterns worldwide,” says University of Sussex geographer Dr Michael Collyer, who will coordinate the research team. “Little is understood about the life chances of the migrants themselves and the issue will only worsen as populations grow and the impact of climate change is increasingly felt.”
As well as seeking to improve lives in the areas of study, the project also aims to build regional research capacity and networks of expertise on this topic in Asia and Africa. Research findings will be published in leading academic journals and shared with wider audiences through a documentary film, an exhibition, lectures and educational resources for schools.
“Sharing new geographical knowledge with a range of audiences – from the public to school children and policymakers – lies at the heart of the Society’s work,” says Dr Rita Gardner, the Society’s Director. “This project is not only cutting edge research, it also offers great opportunities to engage people with the relevance of geography and to demonstrate its importance in the world today. This study has never been more needed.”
1. The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) is the learned society and professional body for geography. Formed in 1830, our Royal Charter of 1859 is for 'the advancement of geographical science'. Today, we deliver this objective through developing, supporting and promoting geographical research, expeditions and fieldwork, education, public engagement, and geography input to policy. We aim to foster an understanding and informed enjoyment of our world. We hold the world's largest private geographical collection and provide public access to it. We have a thriving Fellowship and membership and offer the professional accreditation 'Chartered Geographer’ www.rgs.org
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3. The project team, led by Dr Michael Collyer, consists of nine UK researchers from Durham University, the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) and the University of Sussex. They will be joined by four PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and expert international research partners in each country
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