The School of Arts & Sciences

Institute for Migration Studies

Introduction—Who we are

The Institute for Migration Studies (IMS) was established in 2007. It is part of the Department of Social Sciences and is directly accountable to the Dean of Arts and Sciences. The Institute is interdisciplinary, research-based, educationally minded, policy-driven and network-oriented. Since its foundation, IMS has been interested in developing into an interdisciplinary research institute in the domain of migration as well as a resource center for graduate students and scholars interested in the study of migration and its various impacts on Lebanon, and other countries in the region and worldwide. IMS also has the aim of closely collaborating with government and non-government organizations that deal with diasporic migrant communities and migrant workers in the region.

Why Study Migration?

Migration is a major factor that shapes the world we live in. It is at the heart of social, cultural, religious, political, and economic interaction, and is a phenomenon to reckon with in tackling the pressing issues of socio-economic and political change.

The growing impact of migration between Arab countries underlines the need for a comprehensive understanding of population movements in this part of the world. Globalization has reinforced past trends, incurring greater interaction between peoples and societies, yet it has also given rise to cultural and ethnic isolation. Of special interest is the predicament of Arab populations post-9/11, and the challenges it poses to policy-makers.

The history of Lebanon and the Arab world is inseparable from the history of migration; a study of the former would be incomplete without the study of the latter. This history is, more or less, an academically uncharted territory. In Lebanon, for instance, little, if any, is known about the impact of emigration and immigration on the social, cultural, economic, and political fabric and structure of the country. The impact of historical migration trends in other parts of the Arab world and beyond also demands increased scrutiny.

The Institute for Migration Studies (IMS) breaks the academic drought on this important, albeit often ignored, subject. It strives to conduct research and publish key findings and scholarly works in the field of migrant studies. Lebanese American University, with its vision for excellence in education and research, and its location in Beirut, the cultural capital of the Arab world, naturally offers the perfect locale for the functioning and success of such an institute.

Mission and Objectives

IMS strives towards cooperation with international institutions and research centers with similar research agendas. We aim to establish affiliations with similar institutes in universities located in Arab and other countries. The objective is to establish an integrated institutional network for migration research in the Arab world housed at LAU. In line with the overall mission of LAU, IMS fosters practice-oriented interdisciplinary research that feeds into cutting-edge academic scholarship. IMS also endorses the view that research should be linked to the aim of providing excellence in teaching. IMS aims to:

  1. Engage in research projects;
  2. Draw on new research findings to evaluate and advocate policy options and effective government practices;
  3. Disseminate knowledge through academic publications, databanks, and conferencing;
  4. Prepare policy/research briefings and organize roundtables, seminars, and workshops for policy makers;
  5. Engage in community outreach projects;
  6. Offer a Masters program in Migration Studies;
  7. Facilitate the research activities of local and international scholars and graduate students working on migration and migrant communities in Lebanon and the Arab countries.

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