New UBC Centre for Migration Studies aims to be a global leader in migration research



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Credit: Tomas Williams/Unsplash

A new interdisciplinary UBC Centre for Migration Studies will support innovative migration research, knowledge mobilization and teaching and learning, at UBC and internationally. Based in the Faculty of Arts and led by Dr. Antje Ellermann, the Centre will be the first migration research centre of its kind in Western Canada.

“The UBC Centre for Migration Studies will be an intellectual and inclusive home for UBC migration and mobility scholars from many different disciplines,” says Dr. Ellermann. “I envision it as a place that will nurture learning and collaboration, and that will connect UBC researchers and students with community organizations, policy makers and migration researchers elsewhere in Canada and abroad.”

The new centre will build upon the foundations of the UBC Migration Research Excellence Cluster — founded and co-directed by Dr. Ellermann— which since 2018 has promoted collaborations between migration researchers, community partners and policy makers to advance the understanding of global migration and to mobilize knowledge for evidence-informed policies and practices. The UBC Centre for Migration Studies will continue to advance this work by providing an interdisciplinary home for migration research at UBC, promoting cutting-edge research, investing in graduate training and engaging in public outreach on issues of migration.

“My goal is to build a global reputation for UBC as a place of migration and mobility research that is not only cutting edge academically, but also socially and politically relevant.”
Director, UBC Centre for Migration Studies

The Centre for Migration Studies responds to the need for the longer-term institutionalization of migration research at the university. UBC itself is a major settlement community, located within a larger community that is a global destination for immigrants. Nearly a quarter of its student body made up of international students, and over 40 percent of Metro Vancouver’s population were born outside of Canada.

Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC (AMSSA) CEO Katie Crocker says the Centre will play an important role in better understanding and supporting newcomers to the province. AMSSA is the provincial umbrella association for organizations that provide settlement and integration services to immigrants, refugees and newcomers.

“Through our participation with the UBC Migration Cluster, AMSSA has worked with researchers and our members to deepen our knowledge about newcomers, their migration journeys and their settlement and integration needs,” says Crocker. “The UBC Centre for Migration Studies will continue to bring the importance of newcomers in British Columbia to the forefront, acknowledging that newcomer settlement and integration is key to our economy, that humanitarian migration is our legal and ethical responsibility and that families are the heart of our communities.”

“The UBC Centre for Migration Studies will continue to bring the importance of newcomers in British Columbia to the forefront.”
CEO, AMSSA

The UBC Centre for Migration Studies is the first interdisciplinary Centre created under a new Faculty of Arts policy that seeks to encourage and support collaborations between units across the Faculty. “It’s a clear example of what can be achieved when excellent researchers come together around a timely, public-facing and unifying intellectual theme like migration,” says Dr. Brett Eaton, Associate Dean of Research & Graduate Studies, UBC Faculty of Arts.

“The Centre will serve as an intellectual home for a large and active community of scholars from a wide range of humanities and social science disciplines at UBC, and we expect that it will foster additional national and international research collaborations,” says Dr. Eaton. “Perhaps more importantly, it will strengthen the links between our academic community and local, provincial and federal governments and NGOs who work on issues of migration.”

During its first year, the Centre will be focused on facilitating new research collaborations, offering training opportunities and continuing dialogue about UBC’s role in immigrant selection and settlement. Over the Centre’s initial five-year term, Dr. Ellermann’s goals include integrating with the President’s Excellence Chair in Global Migration, establishing a Migration Studies graduate certificate for MA and PhD students, and carrying out a strategic plan focused on catalyzing research, mobilizing knowledge and enhancing interdisciplinary and policy-engaged teaching and learning.

“My goal is to build a global reputation for UBC as a place of migration and mobility research that is not only cutting edge academically, but also socially and politically relevant,” says Dr. Ellermann.

The Centre for Migration Studies is generously supported by the UBC Faculty of Arts, the Departments of Political Science, Sociology, Geography, Anthropology, and the Peter A. Allard School of Law, with additional support provided by Excellence Funds from the Office of the Vice-President of Research and Innovation.