Forced Migration Innovation Project

Department of Anthropology, SMU
The Project Blog


Our Aims:

•  Empowering refugees
•  Nurturing skills and talents
•  Fostering entrepreneurships
•  Integrating research and practice
•  Enabling the move from dependency to
   sustainability





Our Activities:

• Defining bottom-up innovation
• Capturing career-laddering solutions
• Ushering in a new culture of welcome for
   refugees in America
• Piloting new approaches
• Partnering with Oxford University Refugees
  Studies Centre
• Involving the private sector

      Our Mission:

      The Forced Migration Innovation Project (FMIP), in partnership with the Humanitarian Innovation Project at Oxford University (HIP), seeks to identify ways in which innovation and the private sector enhance refugee livelihoods. Our research in the U.S. will develop a ‘bottom-up’ methodology for facilitating career-laddering opportunities that can be used in practice for resettled refugees. 




      The Situation:

      Since 1975, the U.S. has admitted over 2.5 million refugees for permanent resettlement. The primary goal of the U.S. is for these newcomers to achieve economic self-sufficiently in the most expedient manner. While policies and procedures that usher refugees into a non-skilled minimum wage job have stayed the same, important factors have changed that lessen the chances for self-sufficiency.

      Our Hypothesis:

      It is our position that rethinking refugees in resettlement reception as active agents in their own livelihoods, finding new ways to engage the U.S. private sector with refugee skills, ideas, and entrepreneurship that have been sidelined during refugee-hood, and creating enabling environments that facilitate those processes, might just hold a key toward less dependency. 

      Research Goals:

      The primary research goals of FMIP’s first phase are (1) to understand how refugees in the US use their own skills, talents, and entrepreneurship to create better livelihoods; (2) to understand the role of the host community’s private sector as well as refugee networks in the process of upward mobility; (3) to identify the enabling environments (both on the side of refugees and U.S. employers) that support livelihood innovation and advancement; (4) and to understand to what extent the current resettlement system and host refugee discourse either supports or detracts from those enabling processes. 

      Practical Application:

      Unlike many academic projects, the second phase of the FMIP project will contribute directly to practice, working with practitioners, the private sector, and refugees to develop methodologies and programs based on research outcomes that contribute to alternative and sustainable livelihood practices that can be scaled to other contexts and other western countries of resettlement.


      SMU Dept. of Anthropology
      Dr. Faith Nibbs, Project Director
      The Forced Migration Innovation Project is made possible
      by a generous gift of Hunter and Stephanie Hunt.
      Web Hosting Companies