EUKN at the International Metropolis Conference 2017 in The Hague

Ivana Vujic

On 18 September 2017, during the first day of the International Metropolis Conference 2017, the EUKN Director Mart Grisel was invited as a speaker at the Metropolis PhD Workshop: "Exploring the Potential of Academic Research for Policy Making and Policy Advocacy". The speakers were to provide participants with useful advice and thought-provoking reflections. The Metropolis PhD workshop aimed to bring together PhD students and policy-makers to discuss the role of academic research in shaping, influencing and challenging policy on the topics of migration, integration, and asylum.

The International Metropolis Conference 2017 organised from 18 September to 22 September 2017 in The Hague, Netherlands was focused on the theme Migration and Global Justice. The conference reflected on several topics such as: mobility, voluntary and forced alike, how our societies and governments respond, and how to bring consideration of global justice to the discussion. For the first time, the conference offered a special programme for the PhD students organised in collaboration between the International Metropolis Project, the city of Hague, and the Institute for the Migration and Ethnic Studies IMES, University of Amsterdam.


Migration and Global Justice in academia and policy making

As the refugee crisis continues to grow in the Middle East and Europe and the population shifts from the resource-poor to the resource-rich countries, and migration endures from the remote areas of a country to the cities and suburbs, the International Metropolis Conference urges to provide a better understanding of these global challenges. The process of knowledge production on migration and integration processes involves multiple stakeholders such as: academic institutions, international organisations, local/regional/national governments, and civil society organisations. The challenge is that academics are often struggling to produce the research that is directly applicable to the needs and demands of the policy process, while on the other hand, policy makers are unable to use the full potential of the academic research due to the ever-changing political demands, time limitations, etc.

The gap between academic researcher and policy practitioners should be brought together, encouraging academics to produce work more applicable to the policy implications and incentivising policy makers to focus more on the evidence based policy.


Metropolis PhD Workshop: "Exploring the Potential of Academic Research for Policy Making and Policy Advocacy"

The workshop brought together 25 international PhD students together to support the development of their international networks and offered a platform to discuss the value of their research for policy with policy officials, think tanks, international organisations, and civil society organisations.

The workshop consisted of three sessions: research pitch talks by PhD students, discussion on the research content, and the moderated informal debate on the relation between research and policy by the speakers. The aim of the sessions was to provide PhD students with a general understanding of the nature of the work from the perspective of practitioners, and to motivate them to engage more in the policy process.

Beside the EUKN Director Mart Grisel, the workshop speakers of the plenary round-table were:


  1. Sabina Kekic, the coordinator of the Partnership for Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees and adviser to the mayor on European Affairs;
  2. Djamila Schans, a Senior Researcher at the Research and Documentation Centre of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice;
  3. Richard Lewis, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for European Studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussels;
  4. Sandra Pratt, a former representor of the European Commission on international organisations and research groups concerned with immigration, asylum, and integration;
  5. Matthias Mayer, a Project Manager at Bertelsmann Stiftung;
  6. Johnny van Hove, a Scientific Consultant for the coordination and dissemination project of the Network IQ in Germany;
  7. Teressa Juzwiak, a Training and Research Manager at The Hague Process on Refugees and Migration;
  8. Jon Simmons, a former Director for research, economics and statistics on migration and border policy in UK Home Office.

The evidence-based policy making is needed and possible only through a dialogue between policy makers and researchers. The speakers agreed on several ideas during the day pointing out that the more the research is available the better the policy will be, encouraging students to bravely produce work and build a professional network in order to create better outreach. It was agreed that it is important to open the research to the public, focussing on accessibility, clear structure, and innovative presentation design. Speakers also agreed that the use of simple language is necessary to translate the academic research for the policy-making. The best way to communicate research would be in a quick and practical fashion. Using business or political language to transfer the knowledge it is possible to build the audience in different sectors but academic. The speakers advised the PhD students interested in business sector not to “sell” their work as a research only but to incorporate it into a business package creating a business case. Moreover, an interesting idea emerged advising PhD students to invite businesses, think tanks, policy makers, and public institutions to the PhD thesis defence and involve them in the research process from the very beginning.