Academic Bulletin "Refugees: Today and Tomorrow"

Involving the academic community in the refugee protection and inclusion topic addressing challenges and opportunities.
Good Practices

Academic Bulletin "Refugees: Today and Tomorrow"

Involving the academic community in the refugee protection and inclusion topic addressing challenges and opportunities.
Cover of the bulletin

The project in brief

The project iwas implemented by the Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrants (BCRM) in Bulgaria. It began in January 2023 and is currently ended in December 2023.

The academic bulletin Refugees: Today and Tomorrow is the only specialized journal in Bulgaria that offers an in-depth and multidisciplinary focus on forced displacement and refugee issues. The academic newsletter "Refugees: Today and Tomorrow" aims to create the first accessible space in Bulgaria where researchers, educational institutions, practitioners, and refugees can exchange knowledge and experience on topics related to forced displacement and refugees.

The Academic Bulletin Refugees: Today and Tomorrow represents a pioneering initiative in Bulgaria, creating a specialized hub that fosters collaborative knowledge exchange among academics, researchers, institutions, practitioners, and refugees. This collective effort is dedicated to delving into the intricate aspects of forced migration. The overarching mission is to engage members of the academic community and researchers from various disciplines in discussions related to forced displacement, refugee protection, and inclusion.

This initiative operates on three strategic fronts that align with the Bulletin's overarching objectives:

  1. Establishing a Robust Research Platform: The Bulletin serves as a robust repository for research materials, forming an indispensable scientific foundation. This foundation empowers policymakers and practitioners involved in refugee protection and inclusion efforts.
  2. Catalyzing Research Initiatives: By catalyzing research on this critical topic, the Bulletin expands intellectual horizons, creating fresh opportunities for collaboration within universities and the broader academic community
  3. Strengthening University Capacities: The Bulletin provides relevant research resources to enhance the capabilities of universities. This support enables these institutions to nurture the next generation of practitioners and policymakers who are well-equipped to address the multifaceted challenges of refugees and broader humanitarian concerns.

In essence, the Academic Bulletin not only disseminates knowledge but also reinforces the very foundation upon which the future of refugee advocacy and support is built. It has become an indispensable resource for all those engaged in this critical field. Furthermore, the Academic Bulletin places a strong emphasis on age, gender, disability, and diversity in its research approach, encouraging researchers to incorporate these perspectives into their work.

Additionally, the Academic Bulletin actively involves refugees and PoC, highlighting the stories of students and professionals who are making valuable contributions to their host country.

Main activities of the Good Practice

  1.  The Bulgarian Center for Refugee and Migration (BCRM) has taken significant steps to foster academic collaboration and support the cause of refugee protection and inclusion. One of the initiatives is the creation of the Academic Portal on Forced Displacement and Refugees, accessible at www.academia.refugee-integration.bg. This platform is designed to serve as a dynamic hub for academics, researchers, and students, providing them with a comprehensive repository of resources and a space for collaboration.                                                                                                               
  2. The portal houses an extensive library comprising Academic Bulletin issues, fostering the exchange of knowledge and ideas among scholars. Furthermore, it acts as a catalyst for digital initiatives that engage researchers and university students in diverse projects related to refugee protection and inclusion. Notably, it facilitates feedback, recommendations, and proposals across various fields, allowing stakeholders to actively contribute to the discourse surrounding forced displacement and refugees.                                                                                                                
  3. BCRM launched a Call for Proposals for Research Papers, inviting a wide-ranging group of researchers, even those who have not previously delved into refugee-related topics, to join the cause and make a positive impact on refugee protection and inclusion.                                                          
  4. Additionally, BCRM has initiated annual Academic Forums in collaboration with Sofia University, providing a platform for in-depth discussions on refugee-related issues.                                         
  5. The forum culminates in the publication of Collections of Conference Papers, presenting the research findings and insights discussed during these significant gatherings.                                                     

In doing so, BCRM is actively advancing the cause of refugee protection and inclusion by fostering academic collaboration, knowledge dissemination, and research innovation.

Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice

The strategic collaboration between the Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrants (BCRM) and universities represents a significant milestone in the establishment of the Academic Bulletin Refugees: Today and Tomorrow. This joint effort symbolises the harmonious fusion of academic rigor and practical expertise, dedicated to advancing the discourse surrounding forced migration. Through this partnership with universities, BCRM harnesses their knowledge, research capabilities, and intellectual resources to create a specialized platform where academia, practitioners, and refugees come together to exchange experiences and insights. This synergy effectively bridges the gap between theory and practice, significantly enhancing the quality and relevance of the content within the Bulletin.

 

Furthermore, the collaboration between refugee-assisting NGOs and universities greatly amplifies the impact of the Academic Bulletin. NGOs bring invaluable frontline experience and a deep understanding of the challenges faced by refugees. Their hands-on involvement enriches the academic discourse with real-world perspectives, ensuring that the Bulletin remains firmly rooted in the practical realities of refugee protection and inclusion. This collaborative model not only strengthens the educational landscape but also fosters a more holistic and inclusive approach to refugee support. It empowers universities to produce research that is not only academically rigorous but also highly responsive to the evolving needs of refugees and the broader humanitarian community. Ultimately, the symbiotic relationship between BCRM, universities, and NGOs lays the foundation for a more informed, empathetic, and effective response to the complex issues surrounding forced migration. Together, they are shaping a future where academia and practical expertise work hand in hand to drive positive change in the lives of refugees.

What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?

Challenges

  • The Academic Bulletin Refugees: Today and Tomorrow was launched at the beginning of 2022, at the same time when the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic outbreak. The pandemic created significant challenges in two directions. The first direction of the pandemic challenge was that the focus and the interest of the researcher and the overall academic community was the pandemic, and the second direction of the challenge was that the lockdown measures limited the research methods on the refugee topic. 
  • The Academic Bulletin Refugees: Today and Tomorrow is aimed to involve a wide range of researchers from different fields that were not involved in the refugee research topic before, e.g., researchers from the medical field, finance, business, and others. The main challenge in this case was involving those researchers in the matter. 

How they were overcome

  • During the COVID-19 outbreak, the BCRM presented the research and practical point of view on the topic of refugees and the pandemic through different articles putting focus on access to territory during the pandemic, refugee employment during the pandemic, refugee healthcare, the impact of the COVID-19 on refugee housing and others. Through this approach, the BCRM managed to relate the refugee protection and inclusion topics with the challenge that the pandemic created.
  • To reach and provoke the interest of a comprehensive range of researchers from different fields, several Calls for proposals for research papers were open and widely disseminated. Additionally, networking between the researchers increased interest, and the Academic Bulletin covered articles from new research fields.

Results of the Good Practice

  • Universities gained knowledge to educate future humanitarian practitioners and policymakers on refugee issues, along with professionals from diverse fields impacting both refugees and host communities.
  • Several student internships in refugee assisting legal, social, and humanitarian NGOs enhanced practical experience with refugees and aided NGO work.
  • Academic initiatives and projects were initiated, some exclusively for refugees, fostered educational and scientific initiatives with their participation.
  • The Ministry of Education and Science targeted refugees, partnering with BCRM for the Erasmus+ START Project, promoting an inclusive university environment.

In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries

The Academic Bulletin Refugees: Today and Tomorrow is responding to the statement in paragraph 43 of the Global Compact on Refugees: "A global academic network on refugee, other forced displacement, and statelessness issues will be established, involving universities, academic alliances, and research institutions, together with UNHCR and other relevant stakeholders (...).”.

The Academic Bulletin meets the first two objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees: Ease the pressures on host countries by strengthening the capacity of the university and the academic community to propose solutions to the present challenges for the refugees and host communities, prepare next-generation practitioners and policymakers in the refugee and asylum field, or other professional that have the potential to bring positive impact the refugee protection and inclusion, as an opportunity for social and economic development. 

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

The Academic Bulleting Refugees: Today and Tomorrow enhances refugee self-reliance by creating conditions for increased refugee opportunities in universities and other research and scientific initiatives. 

Next steps

The BCRM published the first pilot issues of the Academic Bulletin Refugees: Today and Tomorrow in 2020. Due to the increasing interest of the academic community, the edition was continued and developed in the following years. By the end of 2023, the published issues of the journal will become 14. In 2023, the European Website of the Integration (EWSI) presented the Bulletin as a good practice. Currently, BCRM is in the process of synchronization of the Bulletin content and metadata with the Bulgarian Portal for Open Science. The BCRM will include the activity in the upcoming 2024 project proposal to UNHCR and expect to be approved.

Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?

Transferring international experience and expertise for cooperation between the academic communities, universities and refugee-assisting NGOs, refugees, and organisations will increase the capacity for research on the refugee topic.

Capacity-building to involve more local researchers and universities that were not involved in the refugee topic but started to show interest due to the increasing number of refugees, especially in the Ukraine emergency.

Submitted by

Kina Sabeva PhD, Chairperson, Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrants

[email protected]

Contact the project