The growing number of refugees in recent years has affected all areas of Dutch society. Consequently, discussions on refugee integration have been a central topic of debate in the Netherlands. Several municipalities, organizations and local initiatives have experimented with innovative approaches to enhance inclusivity and enlarge the social participation of refugees. However, no single party involved can provide all the answers. Bringing together the knowledge and experience of scientists, policymakers, social partners and refugees themselves is therefore of the utmost importance.
The Refugee Academy organizes regular meetings that bring together a growing number of practitioners, policymakers, researchers and engaged individuals (with and without a refugee background) to discuss and reflect on different themes connected to the inclusion of refugees in the Netherlands. In the meetings, the refugee perspective is prioritized by connecting policy views and organizational agendas to refugees’ life stories, and by inviting professionals with a refugee background to actively contribute to the debate about refugee inclusion.
The Refugee Academy offers an infrastructure for connecting existing academic, professional and practical knowledge to bring research and practice closer together. Collectively, these different forms of knowledge help people to think and reflect about the necessary societal conditions for making efforts towards integration inclusive in the long term. With its approach, the Refugee Academy makes it possible to establish unorthodox connections, whereby the learning and reflective capacities of those involved are increased and actions can be formulated.
The Refugee Academy’s research is aimed at enhancing the learning abilities and reflective capacities of all parties involved, i.e. policy makers, governmental agencies, businesses, NGOs, civil society and researchers. We frequently organise public meetings on different themes and address some of these themes and research projects in collaboration with societal partners. Current and past research themes were:
- Community initiatives and sustainable connections: What are conditions that enable and constrain civil society initiatives in the Netherlands that aim to contribute to the societal inclusion of refugees? How do they include refugee’s perspectives? For more information go to the Steppingstones4refugees website.
- Full 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? For more information on this research project go to the InHolland website.
- Entrepreneurship among newcomers: How do refugee entrepreneurs engage within the Dutch entrepreneurship ecosystem through the work/assistance of supporting organizations (so-called social entrepreneurs-incubators)?
- Amplifying the impact of refugee-led organisations and refugee advocates in Dutch policymaking:What constraints and possibilities emerge from the experiences of currently active refugee advocates? What are lessons learned from the past? How can we re-conceptualise the role of refugee advocacy today?
- 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, NGO’s and new organizations) learning or what have they learned about refugee reception during this crisis and where can we go from there?