Within the research priority “mobility and migration”, partner insitutions of the Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research have an outstanding portfolio of (complementary) research and policy support programs. In 2020, the Head Office of the Bonn Alliance has undertaken an effort to collect, present and communicate this unique competence as a unitary whole.

On a global level, we observe that the relationship between transnationally mobile actors (including investors and companies, international NGOs, migrants) and stationary actors (such as governments, vulnerable population groups) is changing. New communication technologies, for example, allow very different actors to network and act transnationally. New, highly dynamic relationships are emerging that stand in the way of maintaining manifest and previously established boundaries. These shifts are complex and come with challenges and opportunities that need multiple perspectives and problem-solving techniques to be dealt with.

The Bonn Alliance partners offer a broad portfolio of both thematic and country-specific expertise which makes them ideal cooperation partners for approaching overarching questions on internationally relevant topics on mobility and migration, and for informing on processes, patterns, problems and possibilities.


Mit dem Laden des Videos akzeptieren Sie die Datenschutzerklärung von YouTube.
Mehr erfahren

Video laden

Panel Discussion on “Climate and Migration – Stories from the Field and the Role of Networked Science” in the 2020 Daring Cities Conference @BonnGlobal.

Benefits of Cooperation under the Umbrella of the Bonn Alliance

  • Transdisciplinary synergies
  • New networks for knowledge sharing, research cooperation, and dissemination of research results
  • Access to experts to run joint research projects and to extend the academic programme
  • Bringing together multiple perspectives from social and physical sciences to answer questions about the ways that technology, physical environment, and economy affect migration
  • Joint activities increase visibility and thus impact.

Survey Outcomes

All Bonn Alliance partner institutions have participated in the research mapping between May and July 2020. Over 20 experts offered insights into their own, their department’s or institute’s study programs, short-term training programs, and research activities in the field of mobility and migration. The latter is displayed as a portfolio of topic and expertise as well as a detailed project list.

It is noteworthy that apart from the usual short-term research projects which often occur in areas depending on third party funding, there are as many long-term research programs and even more established areas of research. This is especially important to tackle complex questions of mobility and migration, and to be able to deal with issues with a certain complexity in time and space which hardly fits into the duration of a project box.

Study Programs:

Study programs related to mobility and migration are concentrated at the three universities which are part of the Bonn Alliance, namely the Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, University of Applied Sciences (H-BRS), the United Nations University with its Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), as well as the University of Bonn. Most courses are for graduate and post-graduate students (PhD candidates). Especially noteworthy is the joint master programme between the University of Bonn and UNU-EHS, enabling students to combine the interdisciplinary research and theory perspective with concrete practice and implementation.



University of Bonn:

Short-Term Training Programs and Capacity Building

In addition to the study programs which mostly aim at undergrads, grad students and post-grad students, the Bonn Alliance partners offer short-term training and capacity building measurements.


  • Capacity development of local research assistants in our study regions within some of BICC´s projects


  • Research teams in the context of postgraduate programme, e.g. on global-local policy translation and digitalization and displacement




Research on mobility and migration deals with complex cases involving people, politics, and places; it deals with multiple stakeholders from local communities to global politics, and with various spatial dimensions from microlevel such as households in a village to the macrolevel such as as changing climate which does not know country borders. As such, it requires knowledge and skills in many fields, such as country-specific knowledge (e.g. cultural, political, economic systems), context-fitting methods and their underlying methodology, as well as knowledge on the state of the art and current events. The Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research brings together diverse and interlinked expertise which is needed to cover such a complex field of research.

While individual partner institutions of the Bonn Alliance such as BICC and IDOS have much to say about mobility and migration in Europe and Germany, the overall strength of the alliance lies in research projects and partnerships with stakeholders in an international context, and especially in the global South. There is a joint commitment to expand these existing partnerships, especially on the African continent.

Expertise on Mobility and Migration within the Bonn Alliance of Sustainability Research

The detailed project list which came together in the research mapping revealed a huge variety of sub-topics which fall under the research priority “mobility and migration”, ranging from system-oriented macrolevel perspectives to actor-oriented microlevel considerations and stories.

The thematic categorization above is the result of a keyword analysis of the projects (titles and abstract). Individual codes of the analysis are displayed in the further fanned out circle diagram on the next page. The section headlines have been formed as headlines for individual codes whose contents relate to each other.  

The Bonn Alliance partners deal with topics which relate to the effects which mobility and migration can have on receiving societies, countries of origin, and country systems, such as asylum, matters of integration, or re-migration. They run projects which critically examine external forces which lead to mobility and migration, be it human forces or the forces of climate and environment. In addition to these structural considerations, migrants and their lives are taken under the lens (e.g. matters of health, education, and conflict). Projects which are directly concerned with migration governance complete the broad range of highly policy-relevant topics.

Pull factors in mobility and migration are partly reflected in the category of spatial surroundings – urbanization – but also in the category referring to opportunities which are created through innovations and a changing labor market.

How mobility and migration influence us in our thinking, self-conception and societal development is another stream of interest in the Bonn Alliance, which is mostly covered by the University of Bonn (mobility and identity; mobility and its history).

Click on the image to enlarge.

Classification of the Research on Mobility and Migration

“Mobility and migration” is a field of research which requires multiple disciplines, actors, and sectors to work together. In the Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research, there is a strong expertise drawing from the social sciences, ranging from economic and political studies to ethnography and anthropology. Cultural studies and the humanities are represented in a smaller number. The natural sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology, environmental studies, and agricultural sciences are less a source for current projects and programmes.

Cooperative research on mobility and migration in the Bonn Alliance is highly multidisciplinary, i.e. different disciplines work together simultaneously. We especially take up the expertise and experience in inter- and transdisciplinary work to approach overarching questions in sustainability which lie on a trans-institutional level. The existing strong inter-institutional ties of cooperation are a solid ground to explore more cross-sectorial and further trans-institutional dimensions of joint research – at best with diverse partners in both research and practice.

  • multidisciplinary (drawing knowledge from different disciplines but staying within one discipline)
  • interdisciplinary (analyzes, synthesizes and harmonizes links between disciplines)
  • transdisciplinary (integrates different scientific approaches into a new context, e.g. into practice)
  • cross-sectorial (collaboration with areas beyond your area of work)
  • inter-institutional (taking place between you and your partner institutions)
  • trans-institutional (taking place in cooperation with other institutions in/for a new context beyond institutional boundaries, e.g. for committees like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or forums like the Science Platform Sustainability 2030)

Target Groups, Research and Impact

Mobility and migration is a topic which is to a large extent directed to non-academic target groups such as policy makers and NGOs. There is quite a broad expertise in the Bonn Alliance to address both the academic requirements of research and the practical needs of target groups outside of academia. Building on this experience, joint endeavours to increase the impact of research and gain visibility in the circles which need the research results and policy support most are among the top priorities.

Research Projects and Publications on Mobility and Migration

Forced Migration – Conflict – Livelihood Security

Between civil war and integration—Refugees and the challenges and opportunities of societal change in North Rhine-Westphalia

Time: start in 2016

Funded by: State of North Rhine-Westphalia

Research Cluster

Flucht: Forschung und Transfer

Time: 2016-2019

Funded by: BMBF

Lead: Prof. Dr. Andreas Pott (Institut für Migrationsforschung und Interkulturelle Studien (IMIS)), Apl. Prof. Dr. Jochen Oltmer (IMIS), Prof. Dr. Conrad Schetter (BICC)

Successor Project: Forced migration and Refugee Studies: Networking and Knowledge Transfer (FFVT)

Time: 2020-2025

Funded by: BMBF

Partners: Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), the Centre for Human Rights Erlangen-Nürnberg (CHREN, University of Erlangen Nuremberg), the German Development Institute (DIE, Bonn) and the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS, University of Osnabrück)

Preventing radicalisation in North Rhine-Westphalia: How can the capacities of intermediaries be strengthened?  

Time: July 2018–June 2021

Funded by: State of North Rhine-Westphalia

Research Cluster

The Megaurban Food System of Dhaka

Time: 2007-2012

Funded by: DFG, Priority Programme Megacities

Project Speaker: Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Bohle (Geography Department, University of Bonn); Research Associate: Dipl.-Geogr. Benjamin Etzold (BICC)

Transnational Figurations of Displacement: Connectivity and Mobility as Solutions to Protracted Refugee Situations (TRAFIG)

Time: 2019-2021

Funded by: EU-Horizon 2020

Lead: BICC

Where the Rain falls. Climate Change, Food and Livelihood Security, and Migration

Time: 2009-2012

Funded by: AXA and MacArthur Foundation

Lead: UNU-EHS (research); CARE France (project coordination)

Christ, Simone: International Labour Migration as a Way of Life in the Philippines

Migration governance – Development Policy – Digitalization

Contested mobility’: Migration policy in countries of the global South between local needs, national interests and global agendas

Time: 2020-2022

Funded by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Lead: Dr. Jörn Grävingholt (DIE)


Digitalisation and Information in the Lives of Migrants and Refugees

Time: 2018-2019

Funded by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Lead: Dr. Charles Martin-Shields, Dr. Jana Kuhnt (DIE)


Reducing root causes of forced displacement and managing migration

Time: 2017-2019

Funded by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Lead: Dr. Jörn Grävingholt (DIE)

Labor migration – Sustainable Migration – Capacity Development

Expertise in migration policy advice, labour migration, skills partnerships, development cooperation, circular migration, fair/sustainable migration. 

Sauer, Michael & Meyn, Andreas (2019): “Mobility and Skills Partnership: Linking Labour Migration and VET Policies in Kosovo”. In: Politics & Governance. In preparation.

Environmental migration – Risks and Resilience – Vulnerability and Livelihood Security

Environmental Change and Forced Migration Scenarios (EACH-FOR)

Time: 2 years

Funded by: European Commission, FP6 (Priority 8.1 – Policy-oriented research)

Contacts: Dr. Koko Warner (formely UNU-EHS/now UNFCCC), Dr. Tamer Afifi (UNU-EHS)


Gibika (and Resilience Academy): Livelihood Resilience in Bangladesh – Turning Research into Action

Time: 2013-2018

Funded by: Munich Re Foundation

Lead: Dr. Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson (UNU-EHS)


Internal Migration in the context of Slow Onset Events in the Philippines (IMPACT)


Funded by: GIZ

(website coming soon)


Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative

Time: 01/11/2011-31/03/2013

Funded by: The Climate and Development Knowledge Network CDKN appointed a consortium of organizations, which includes Germanwatch, United Nations University-Institute for Environmental and Human Security (UNU-EHS), International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII) to carry out this work.


Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy (MECLEP)

Time: 2014-2016

Funded by: European Commission, Thematic Programme on Migration and Asylum (TPMA)

Cooperation with: International Organization for Migration (IOM)


Pacific Climate Change and Migration (PCCM)

Time: 2014-2016

Funded by: European Union

Implemented by: the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Lead: Dr. Robert Oakes


Where the Rain Falls: Climate Change, Food and Livelihood Security, and Migration

Time: 2009-2012

Funded by: AXA and MacArthur Foundation

Lead: UNU-EHS (research); CARE France (project coordination)

Urbanization and Mobility – Spatiality in Mobility and Migration – Migration, History, Identity

NACHWUCHS (Nachhaltiges Agri-Urbanes zusammenWACHSEN. NACHWUCHS) in the region of Cologne, research on sustainable agri-urban growth

Time: 2018.2023

Funded by: BMBF

Expertise according to expertise cluster:

“Mobility and its History”


“Relation to Spatial Surroundings”


“Mobility and Identity”

  • Literary und Migration Studies: identity constructions and concepts of mobility in textures (migration phenomena on both geographical and social levels which are reflected in literature)
  • Narratives in literature, cultural memory, collective memory on migration, identity and integration
  • Cultural sociology and theories of othering/belonging/homing; everyday perception of ethnicity


“Aspects of Life and Livelihoods of Migrants”

  • Trauma and Migration – Psychological implications of migration; Biopsychosocial aspects of mobility and migration

Economy and Migration – Motivations for and dealing with Migration – Systemic and Policy Responses to Migration

Expertise according to expertise cluster:

“Effects of mobility and migration on society and country systems”

  • Economic causes of migration, and economic effects of migration and return – specifically: migration and poverty, remittances and education; return migration; migration and violence
  • Refugee law in Germany, integration possibilities in Germany, social / economic/ political empowerment for refugees in Germany


“Possibilities for human mobility through innovation and labor market”

  • Role of social comparisons in mobility decisions
  • Sakketa, T.G. and N. Gerber.  2017.  Rural Shadow Wages and Youth Agricultural Labor Supply in Ethiopia: Evidence from Farm Panel Data.  (ZEF Discussion Paper 236)
  • Sakketa, T.  2018.  Ethiopian Youth in Agriculture: Relative Deprivation, Well-being and Occupational choices.  Doctoral Thesis at the Faculty of Agriculture, Center for Development Research, University of Bonn. 


“Relation to Spatial Surroundings”

  • Climate change and migration (research papers, collaboration with ODI, contribution to the IPCC SRCCL), labour migration, internal migration, return migration (working paper) in Africa and Afghanistan


PhD-related work on:

“Aspects of Life and Livelihoods of Migrants”

  • Gender (in)equality and family farming in Ethiopia
  • Migration of men and women empowerment, migration of men and children’s education in Pakistan
  • Intergenerational mobility and children of migrants in Indonesia
  • Zimbabwean family life after the crisis driven migration to the UK
  • Youth aspirations, decision making and migration choices in the hill region of Uttarakhand, India
  • The participation of Syrian women in civil society organizations following the Syrian conflict, investigating participation in Turkey and Lebanon


“Effects of mobility and migration on society and country systems”

  • Individual and group resilience of female refugees in Bonn Bad Godesberg
  • International organisations in the politics and governance of global migration (The Case of the UNODC on the eastern Africa to Western Europe Migration Route)
  • Refugees’ discrimination and integration (informal land arrangements) in Uganda
  • The question: To what extent are refugees empowered in their daily lives to overcome legal, material and sociocultural challenges that governmental institutional structures create?

“Relation to Spatial Surroundings”

  • The proximity to towns and labour market outcomes (including migration) in Ethiopia
  • Migrant livelihood strategies in Ghana between free movement and citizenship struggles
  • Rural youth outmigration in light of employment and development in Algeria

This research mapping has been conducted by the Managing Director of Head Office of the Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research, Dr. Sandra Gilgan, in 2020.