Upcoming events

Past events (reports)

11 July 2023: Workshop on How to make an impact with Refugee-led advocacy by Domenica Ghidei

Workshop, “How to Make an Impact with Refugee-led Advocacy,” led by renowned activist Domenica Ghidei, was a transformative event aimed at empowering refugee-led organizations and advocates. Held at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the workshop focused on strategic advocacy, sustainability, and fostering collaboration among like-minded organizations.

Domenica Ghidei’s expertise guided participants through insightful discussions and shared experiences, inspiring attendees to recognize the power of their voices in effecting positive change. The workshop nurtured a strong sense of empowerment and provided practical tools for driving meaningful impact in their communities.

The “How to Make an Impact with Refugee-led Advocacy” workshop left a lasting impact on all participants, inspiring them to envision new possibilities for collective advocacy initiatives. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Domenica Ghidei for her invaluable contributions, and we look forward to future workshops to continue strengthening the refugee-led advocacy community.


1 juli 2019: Learning Crossroads for Refugee Inclusion: How to map the efforts and resilience of Civil Society Initiatives in the Netherlands

Since 2015, civil society initiatives and organizational networks have played a crucial role in helping and supporting refugees who entered the Netherlands as a result of the so-called ‘refugee-crisis.’ Many new grassroots and community organizations started playing a role in the field of reception and integration of refugees. They operated alongside national and local governments and established NGOs and by doing so shined a specific light on the societal challenges and ambitions of inclusion of refugees in current times. In order to give meaning to what happened in those years and draw lessons for the future, understanding the role and the resilience of civil society initiatives is crucial. The Refugee Academy has started with a mapping of the civil society initiatives that aim to contribute to the societal inclusion of refugees in the Netherlands. During the symposium on the 1st of July we presented this mapping (this can be found on We zoomed in on the narrative trajectories of some civil society initiatives that have emerged in the last four years in Amsterdam. This is just the beginning of documenting the many narrative trajectories in other Dutch cities. A question that was central during this symposium was: “How can we retain the positive energy of community initiatives and how can we convert this energy into sustainable structures that contribute to the societal inclusion of refugees?” The report can be find here.


11 May 2019: The potential of lifehistories for the inclusion of refugees: science and theater in dialogue

This symposium was held at the Frascati Theater in Amsterdam. Together with theater players, therapists, refugees, policy-makers, academics and everyone else interested we explored, and tried to learn from, the potential of life-histories for different disciplines. A report of this symposium can be found here (in Dutch).



6 December 2018: The ‘connective space’ as a joint place: what do we need?

The overarching question that guided this meeting was: what do people need to collectively create a ‘connective space’? We focussed not only on social conditions, but also on organizational and physical: what are the requirements of a place for it to be a place of connection? What relationships exist between the different types of conditions? Click on this link for the report (in Dutch).


2 October 2018: Newcomers and entrepreneurship: thinking out of the box to create connections

This meeting formed a continuation of the discussion we started during our earlier meeting on entrepreneurship on December 1st, 2017 (see below). The central question was: how can we create a context in which connections between the different actors involved can be developed. More specifically, connections that can contribute to successful entrepreneurship among newcomers. Read the report here.


22 June 2018: Building the inclusive city: experimental spaces for connection between residents and newcomers. Together with BOOST Amsterdam, in the framework of the WeMakeThe.City Festival

For this occasion, we dove into the experience of one community organization, in search for the conditions needed to produce inclusive spaces for the city of the future. With the help of the concept of ‘in-between space,’ together with all participants (i.a. people involved in BOOST, citizen organizations, policy-makers, researchers, others interested) we explored the nature of the spaces of connection developed at BOOST. Read the report (in Dutch) here.


24 April 2018: “Refugee women at work!” Together with Movisie

This meeting was entirely dedicated to refugee women and their (opportunities for) labour market participation. Refugee women have a much harder time finding a job than their male counterparts and  face many more barriers in the Netherlands. During this meeting, ways of creating opportunities for refugee women on the labour market were explored.

Find a report of the meeting (in Dutch, by Movisie) here.


13 March 2018: Integration of disciplinary approaches to issues of refugee inclusion

During this meeting, the special issue of Mens en Maatschappij was presented, with contributions from the different scholars involved. The issue encompassed different disciplines to, and perspectives on, refugee inclusion. The subjects and studies from this issue – labour market participation, use of social media, and school and study careers – formed the starting points to reflect on how to connect the different approaches to issues surrounding refugee inclusion.


16 February 2018: Voluntary work as a step towards integration?

The arrival of many refugees has led to challenges in reception, but has also triggered questions about how integration should be facilitated in Dutch society. For example, should early integration take place within the asylum centres? And could voluntary work potentially contribute in this integration? Initiatives were developed in and outside asylum centres, but how voluntary work could contribute to integration is still under discussion. During this Refugee Academy meeting, we looked at the impact of voluntary work on for example refugees’ network building, learning the Dutch language, mental health, self- development and access to the labour market. Therefore, the experiences of residents of asylum centres and the experiences of organizations being involved in promoting and organizing voluntary work were taken into account. In addition, the insights derived from recent research by Significant and VU were shared. Find the report of the meeting here.


1 December 2017: Newcomers and Entrepreneurship: Pathways towards self-reliance. Together with the Refugee Company

This meeting was held at the Refugee Company in Amsterdam. Together with newly arrived entrepreneurs, business incubators, case- and client managers, policy-makers, academics and everyone else interested we explored and tried to learn from the challenges and chances on the pathways towards self-employment. Socio-economic integration is a multi-sided process: not only newcomers integrate, but host societies, labour and consumer markets need to integrate into new realities as well. Programs and interventions generally focus on improving the skills, network, knowledge and other forms of capital of refugees. However, reinforcing the receptivity of society (starting from the key stakeholders who can offer chances for professional development to newcomers) is an equally challenging issue, which gets much less attention both in research and in policy. Research shows that the pathway to entrepreneurship and to paid labour for newcomers is narrowed by exclusionary mechanisms that are often tacit and unintended by those actors that produce them. Read the report via this link!


7 November 2017: Crisis governance or governance crisis? A sustainable model for long term refugee reception and integration

In general terms, in the Dutch context, the refugee “crisis” had a governmental response structure that led to a formal top-down ‘command and control’ crisis management approach, with a reduced understanding of how to integrate bottom-up citizens’ initiatives and know-how from NGOs in the “crisis” response. Although there are several organizational actors with different aims and objectives, they are all dealing with the same topics/problems that many times find operational, logistics or policy challenges. With a hands-on approach, the Refugee Academy aimed to originate a space for dialogue and co-creation in which academic knowledge and practical insights fed each other. In this meeting, we wanted to provide participants with fresh perspectives on cooperation. Also, we hoped to collect insights that would further shape our own research program, which is set up as a collective space for learning for researchers and practitioners. We provided conceptual tools and examples to look at (different models of) cooperation between state agencies, NGOs, volunteers and experts. What are different ways to look at cooperation in the reception of newcomers, during a period that is framed as a “crisis”? What are aims, underlying assumptions and respective roles in this cooperation? Also, we looked at the current challenges from the point of view of these different stakeholders. Click here for the report.


10 October 2017: Early inclusive reception. Where do we come from and where do we go? Together with Ondertussen Foundation

In the past years, many initiatives have emerged to welcome refugees and support them in the process of their integration into Dutch society. More and more initiatives from municipalities and civil society focus on early inclusion and participation, starting in the asylum seeker centers. It was time to reflect on what is needed to make this community-effort a durable and effective contribution to creating an inclusive society. In this meeting, we chose to look at this challenge starting from experiences and lessons from the past, which are too often overlooked in this debate. 

We started from the perspective of people who have been working in the world of reception, support and integration of refugees. To try to capture this perspective, Fronnie Biesma from Ondertussen Onderweg has been collecting stories and experiences. Around 20 people were asked the following questions: 1. We mostly learn most from the frictions, from what did not work well. Can you give an example of that and what lessons you have drawn from this for the rest of your life? 2. If someone now wants to start an initiative concerning asylum centres, with people who have fled, what would be your major advice, your do’s and don’ts?