The current refugee crisis in Europe has highlighted how ill-equipped the international community is to deal with a large influx of refugees and internally displaced peoples fleeing the conflict in Syria. While armed conflicts and generalized violence have generated a large body of both categories across the globe, this is not the only cause of refugee and internally displaced flows and displacement. Large development projects and severe weather events have also given rise to mass displacement (both internal and across borders) and there is consensus that climate change will also give rise to mass displacement of people (as it already has for those in outlying islands). In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognized in their very first report that the greatest single impact of climate change may be on patterns of human migration. The projected estimates put this number between 20 million to 200 million by 2050. Such a large number of displaced people, whether internally or internationally, could likely to threaten international peace and security.

The current refugee crisis has also highlighted the massive human suffering experienced by the displaced populations. Images of families torn apart, children dying and people living under appalling conditions will haunt the international community for decades. At a time when the international community boasts of unprecedented technological advances, such scenes are an affront to human dignity when large numbers of people are forced to flee situations of violence leaving behind everything and are forced to live in appalling conditions.


This project looks at migration broadly and its impact on human rights from an interdisciplinary perspective. It will look at sub-themes of:

Scholars Affiliated with the Project

We have identified a diverse group of scholars across the University whose existing or emergent research projects overlap with or are centered on questions of migration. This group includes:

Past Events

Faculty development seminar on human rights and refugees funded by the Center for the Humanities led by Professors Heinz Klug (Law) and Helen Kinsella (Political Science) ongoing and by invitation.

Fall 2016

  • November 29, 2016: Professor Tendayi Achiume, cosponsored by the International Relations colloquium of Political Science Department, "The Global Anti-Xenophobia Regime," noon, Lubar Commons (7200 Law)

Spring 2017

  • February 7, 2017: Public forum on "Legality of Trump's Executive Order on Immigration," moderated by Professor Alexandra Huneeus. Speakers include: Professor Sara McKinnon (Communication Arts), Prof. Asifa Quraishi-Landes (UW Law) and Prof. Benjamin Harville (UW Law). 4 p.m. in Room 2260 Law
  • March 3, 2017: Academic Forum on "Human Rights and the Trump Presidency" sponsored by the Human Rights Program, GLS and the International Division, Pyle Center, Room 325/326, 1:00-5:00pm.  All are welcome.
  • April 3-6, 2017: UW-Madison's Public Interest Law Foundation's Community Justice week on the theme Immigration, co-sponsored by HRP

    Monday, April 3rd, 12:00-1:00 pm: Mayor Paul Soglin of the City of Madison will be speaking in Room 2260 of the Law School. Mayor Soglin will present on immigration issues in the Madison community with a discussion to follow. Coffee and snacks will be provided.

    Tuesday, April 4th, 12:00-1:00 pm: Attorney Shabnam Lotfi of Lotfi Legal LLC will be speaking in Room 3250 of the Law School. Attorney Lotfi will present on her experiences with clients impacted by the Executive Order, specifically nationals of Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen, with a discussion to follow. Lunch will be provided.

    Wednesday, April 5th, 12:00-1:00 pm: Students of UW-PILF and the Immigration Justice Clinic will be tabling in the Law School Atrium providing information on the Clinic to those interested in learning more about its services.

    Thursday, April 6th, 12:00-1:00 pm: UW-Madison Professor Sara McKinnon will be speaking in Room 3250 of the Law School. Professor McKinnon will present on 'Refugees in America: Historical and Contemporary Issues' with a discussion to follow. Lunch will be provided.

  • April 17, 2017: Professor Shobha Whadia, Penn State University will speak at the Immigrant Justice week sponsored by the Latino Law Students Association and co-sponsored by HRP

Fall 2017

  • September 21, 2017: “Beyond the Muslim Ban: Coalition Politics and Feminist Futures” by Professor Nadine Suleiman Naber, University of Illinois Chicago, 7PM, L160 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building (800 University Avenue), sponsored by Comparative US Studies, HRP, Anonymous Fund, Haven Center and Freedom Inc. (GLS/HRP)
  • October 12, 2017: “When Victims Aren’t Blameless: Police Killings and Reasonable Doubt,” by Professor Lisa Marie Cacho, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, 7pm, Elvhejem Building (800 University Avenue), with funding from Anonymous Fund and HRP, hosted by Professor Sara McKinnon (GLS/HRP)
    Spring 2018
  • November 16, 2017: Celebrating International Education Week, Screening of movie Uncondemned, followed by comments by Thierry Cruvellier and Jean Geran, 5:15pm Lubar Commons, sponsors: Human Rights Program, The International Division, Global Legal Studies Center, 4W Initiative, 4W STREETS program.

Spring 2018

  • February 19, 2018:  "Detaining Families: A Study of Asylum Adjudication in Family Detention," by Human Rights Program Speaker Professor Ingrid Eagly, UCLA Law School. Hosted by Alexandra Huneeus. 12pm-1pm in Lubar Commons (Room 7200).
  • February 26, 2018: “Punishing the ‘Others:’ Citizenship and State Social Control in the United States and Germany,” by Professor Michael Light, Sociology Department, UW-Madison, co-sponsored by Center for European Studies. Hosted by Alexandra Huneeus.12pm-1pm in Lubar Commons (Room 7200)
  • April 20, 2018: Symposium on The Many Faces and Facets of US Immigration Activism, 12:00-4:00pm, room 3250 Law School, sponsored by the Human Rights Program, The International Division, Global Legal Studies Center, Comparative US Studies, and Freedom Inc.

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