Expertise lab Refugee Academy

The growing number of refugees in recent years is affecting many people in the Netherlands. Several municipalities, organizations and local initiatives have experimented with innovative approaches to enhance inclusivity and enlarge the social participation of these so called 'status houders'. Bringing together the knowledge and experience of scientists, policymakers, social partners and refugees themselves is of the utmost importance.

The Refugee Academy offers an environment in which existing academic, professional and local knowledge is brought together to relate research and daily practices regarding the refugee crisis more closely. Together we formulate achievable goals that help bring about inclusion in real life. This is necessary to help refugees integrate fully in Dutch society, but also to learn to understand what is needed to deescalate negative sentiments towards refugees, while at the same time unorthodox connections can be made that will benefit society as a whole.  

The research of the Refugee Academy is aimed towards enhancing the learning abilities and the reflective capacities of all parties involved in the refugee crisis, i.e. policy makers, governmental agencies, businesses, NGOs, civil society and researchers. Our themes are:

  • Building community initiatives and sustainable connections: How can citizens' initiatives for refugees strike the right balance between giving them space and guiding them in a certain direction to continue their lifes after having arrived in the Netherlands?
  • Creating full-fledged participation of newcomers by strengthening the role of employers: what are workable strategies to engage businesses to help with the challenge to offer a career path for refugees in the Netherlands? How can municipalities and organizations that focus on improving labour market access for refugees better engage business and provide them with better support? What are the challenges that employers experience in this regard?
  • Entrepreneurship among newcomers: What experimental routes and conditions are available for newcomers to actively contribute to their host society?
  • ‘Crisis governance or governance crisis?’ How do we build a sustainable model for long term refugee reception and integration? We might agree or disagree with the term ‘crisis’, but this frame helps to consider future changes in the refugee influx and everyday practical challenges that different organizations face. What are the various stakeholders (state agencies, NGOs and new organizations) learning or what have they already learned about refugee reception during the crisis and where will this go from there?

The Refugee Academy is an initiative of professor Halleh Ghorashi, theme leader of the theme ‘Resilience, through Diversity and Inclusion’ of the ISR. Dr. Elena Ponzoni coordinates the Refugee Academy. If you have any questions, please send an e-mail to For news and updates, follow the Refugee Academy on LinkedIn.