The complex topic of migration could be better understood if several academic disciplines worked together to explain it, according to the leader of a new research team, jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
Dr Laura Hammond, Reader in Development Studies at SOAS University of London, principal investigator of the Migration Leadership Team, will seek to improve collaboration on migration studies between the social sciences, the arts and humanities.
"There's a lot we can do through this kind of arrangement that we can't do alone," says Dr Hammond. "There are aspects of migrants' lives that the social sciences has explored over many years, such as the underlying assumptions about why migration happens and the effectiveness of the response from the United Nations to the role of civil society, and the reception and integration of migrants. The social sciences gives us the trends and the wider processes.
"Meanwhile the experiences of migrants have been captured through the arts and humanities – in literature, art and film; conveying migrants' experiences in unique and moving ways. Put them together and you have something that will really speak to a broader community; academics and even those who wouldn't normally read academic studies."
The Migration Leadership Team will review existing research on migration, highlight best practice and identify opportunities and priorities for new research. The team will identify areas of research to prioritise, determine how to make an impact, and ways to communicate and collaborate that are likely to help bridge research, policy and public engagement.
Dr Hammond also believes that this collaborative approach will help spot where research will have the most impact, by establishing links between research and practice.
"Rather than devise a strategy and then present it to migration policymakers and practitioners as an already formed proposal, we are speaking with researchers around the world to find out what they would like to gain from this kind of project."
The Migration Leadership Team will engage in a series of 'Global Migration Conversations' – workshops, one-on-one interviews, and panel discussions with researchers, policymakers, practitioners, migrants associations and arts organisations.