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DePaul Migration Collaborative explores climate change, mental health

Applications open for interdisciplinary research program

A dozen DePaul professors, staff and administrators post in front of a whiteboard after a meeting
Members and collaborators with the DePaul Migration Collaborative met in April to explore connections between migration and climate change, mental health and more. (Courtesy: Tanisi Chand)

Imagine it's 2033, and the population of Chicago is exploding. The Midwestern city has become a hub for those displaced by hurricanes, drought, rising sea levels and other climate disasters. DePaul professors Barbara Willard and Craig Mousin laid out this scenario at the second annual convening of the DePaul Migration Collaborative on April 14. They challenged participants to consider how Chicago might prepare for an influx of climate refugees.

The internal convening, called "Network Weavers," brought together faculty who work on the topic of migration from a range of disciplinary perspectives. The event began with a short history of the DePaul Migration Collaborative. The interdisciplinary effort among DePaul's College of Law, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and Division of Mission and Ministry works on migration issues through community-engaged projects, advocacy and research.

Three plenary speakers presented their signature projects related to migration. Maria Ferrera, associate professor of social work, spoke about the importance of mental health resources for migrants and her work with the Coalition for Immigrant Mental Health. GianMario Besana, associate provost for global engagement and online learning, spoke about the initiative in helping support 13 Afghan women to study at DePaul. And Mousin and Willard discussed the link between migration and climate change.

The DePaul Migration Collaborative recently received a generous gift from John and Kathy Schreiber​. At the event, there was a call for applications to the collaborative's Solutions Lab Research Grant program, which will fund interdisciplinary research on challenges faced by migrants in the United States, jointly identified by academics and community partners. Applications are open through May 15.

Learn more about the DePaul Migration Collaborative online.

Shailja Sharma is co-director of the DePaul Migration Collaborative, professor of international studies and the founding director of the Refugee and Forced Migration Studies Program at DePaul.