As Maastricht University enters period 4 of the 2015/2016 academic year, it is very exciting that for the first time the University College Maastricht (UCM) is offering a course on migration! Thanks to the innovation of Interim Dean, Teun Dekker, this course was added to the course calender late last year to bring the topic of migration to UCM students. The course was met with a fantastic response and has over 80 students enrolled. I am happy to be the Course Coordinator and Developer of the course and to have the opportunity to engage with this bright group of Bachelors students at the top rated Bachelors programme in the Netherlands.
Here is my take on three key reasons why it is important to study migration, particularly more broadly at the Bachelors level:
1) Migration is a Key Issue of Our Time- 2015 has been dubbed the Year of Migration. At present, there are close to 250 million migrants in the world. This includes nearly 60 million people who are currently displaced, of which 4 million are Syrian refugees, 4.8 million are Palestinians, and 29 million are internally displaced people. Migration is in many ways all around us. At the same time, it is not necessarily a new phenomenon; people have been moving around the world since the beginning of time. Perhaps it is our reactions and management of migration that is now different. The world today is extremely restrictive for certain groups, and open for others, reflecting our ever increasing global inequality. Consider for instance, having a European passport compared to an Afghan passport. This leads to the second key point of managing migration.
2) Managing Migration is Central is Shaping the Global Future- As 2015 has been dubbed the year of migration, the UN and several scholars are emphasizing that the crisis is not over. Is 2015 the new normal? At present, the migration issue is very Eurocentric and Syrian centric, but we need to remember that this is a global issue: there are the Rohinga in Asia, decreasing security in Afghanistan, several conflicts in Africa, and protracted displacement of Colombians in Latin America. One million migrants entering Europe in a single year is perhaps not the new normal, but migration is a global issue that is not going away. It requires new structures for global cooperation and governance to address the complexity of migration flows that will be continuing in the near and distant future due to the increasing conflicts, climate change, and complexities in our world.
3) Migration is an Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cutting Issue: Not only is migration about economics, geography or politics. It is simultaneously about all of these subject and many more. Migration is a security issue, a terrorism issue, a development issue, a governance issue, an issue of climate change, and polarizing issue across dinner tables and between citizens. Migration is a complex concept because it challenges state sovereignty and creates a trade-off between human rights and migrants agency versus state structures and state autonomy. An interdisciplinary institute like UCM is thus the perfect place for such a course to be offered in a multidisciplinary perspective.
A version of this blog post is posted at merit.unu.edu
Photo thanks: Sueli Brodin