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Irregular Migration and “The End of Asylum”

This project conducts empirical research on the gaps and effects of aid and interventions targeting irregular migrants, asylum seekers, and people who are here with Temporary Protective Status or Humanitarian Parole programs, focusing on people in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. Dr. Carruth studies targeted Ethiopian political and ethnic minorities who, rather than seeking refugee status, IDP status, or living in camps in Djibouti or other host countries nearby, migrate extralegally to the Gulf States for work. Dr. Castañeda investigates the effects of irregular migration among Central Americans who are fleeing violence, repression, and crime in their home countries, and yet struggle to gain asylum or visas to the United States. Dr. Young is examining why Americans support some asylum seekers over others, a question that helps us understand differences in aid allocation and design. The project uses ethnography and survey experiments. Together this work provides comparative cases in “the end of asylum,” whereby liberal institutions and states throughout the Global North are progressively reducing the possibilities for people from the Global South to obtain refugee status or resettlement.

Networks of Aid in Conflict

Hundreds of international aid actors work in fragile and conflict-affected countries to build peace, prevent violent extremism, reduce poverty, save lives, or rebuild infrastructure. They are connected to each other and to state and non-governmental actors through formal contracts, informal relationships, and regular coordination meetings. This project studies these networks of influence and support and their effect on indicators of conflict and peace. By layering social media and fieldwork data over network data, this project will capture the global dimensions of aid networks and related potential diffusion of aid strategies, tactics, and changes.

Research to Policy Transfer

The Changing Aid initiative is developing a model for facilitating research-to-policy transfer, building partnerships among researchers, policymakers, and practitioners through education and training, evidence-driven events, and rigorous research. By building cross-disciplinary research collaborations on international aid, this initiative produces cutting-edge research that addresses the multiple dimensions of aid. By offering education and training for the aid industry professionals in the DC-area and internationally, as well as for AU students, Changing Aid translates this cross-disciplinary research into courses that facilitate better and more accountable aid. By organizing public events with diverse policymakers, practitioners, and scholars to discuss pressing issues facing international aid–such as the current crises in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Central America–we offer aid actors a badly-needed space for critical reflection, research, training, and debate on international aid.

Changing Aid via Training and Education

The Changing Aid initiative engages with the AU and broader aid community by offering a range of training and educational opportunities to facilitate professional development. We are currently developing a graduate certificate program in Humanitarian Response, which will provide a cohesive, cross-listed series of courses and co-curricular policy exercises and/or practica. The Changing Aid initiative will also establish skills institutes that give training and educational opportunities to AU students and early-to-mid-career professionals in topics such as methodological skills, policy analysis, and program design and evaluation. The first Skills Institute will take place May 19-21, 2023 and will feature a crisis response simulation in order to provide hands-on skills and essential field preparation for work in humanitarian emergencies.