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Programs

Digital Portfolios of the Poor (DPP) seeks to understand gendered differences in the digital lives of the poor, enabling action to close gender gaps in digital financial service access and to design more effective, gender-transformative digital products.

The Journeys Project is a cross-regional collection of migrant stories to better understand the costs and strategies involved in their journeys as well as the economic approaches they use when putting down roots in new surroundings.

The Refugees in Towns (RIT) project examines the main barriers and pathways to integration, with the goal of identifying innovative solutions to the obstacles that refugees, migrants, and hosts face.

Disrupted Mobilities, inspired by the 2020 documentary Waylaid in Tijuana, explores the local impacts of a fortified U.S.-Mexico border and how migrants journeying through Central America and Mexico assess risk and process information regarding entry into the U.S.

PHUSID is a skills-building initiative based on the Inner Development Goals (IDGs) to better prepare students to work effectively and sustainably in violent or fragile contexts. The Leir Institute is a designated IDG Hub.

The Corruption, Justice, and Legitimacy Program is a research-to-practice initiative committed to improving the effectiveness of anti-corruption programming in contexts of endemic corruption.

Latest Updates

  • By Diana Chigas, Co-Director, CJL and Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church, Co-Director, CJL This blog post originally appeared on the Corruption in Fragile States Blog. Subscribe here to receive blog updates via email. If social norms are the mutual expectations of how to behave held by a particular group, what happens when you are a member of multiple groups each with their own norms? When faced with a particular situation, which group’s norm—be it gender, faith, generation, ethnicity, tribe, or locality—will influence you? Do the norms collide, refract, negate or reinforce each other? And when it comes to corrupt behaviors, how do these multiple identities and the associated norms interact to influence how people behave? We first stumbled on this question in our work in the DRC. There, criminal justice professionals consistently told us that “women in Lubumbashi face greater consequences than men if caught engaging in ANY type of corruption.” This was in part because of a dominant gender norm that expects women to be the ‘upholder of family values.’ As a result, if any of these professional women were caught in an act of corruption, they and their families would experience significant shame—unlike men in similar positions, who if caught, would be mocked for being caught, but not for being corrupt in the first place. As we moved to research corruption in the criminal justice system in Uganda, we found that women did not have the same familial pressure to maximize income as men (gender norm); this diminished the strength of the social norm within the civil service to take every opportunity to benefit your own. We wondered what implications these gendered dimensions of corruption-related social norms had for programming. The fact that women might more frequently be islands of integrity than men in northern Uganda, for example, could mean that working with women to promote integrity would be a sound strategy. But we also wondered whether the fact that they could more easily resist pressure to engage in corrupt behaviors than men because of the gendered norm could also mean that it would be difficult to expand the impact of the effort beyond women—at least without incorporating additional approaches. Why it matters If our hypothesis is true, social norms change programming must adapt. Specifically, it will need, when relevant, to assess intersectional dimensions of norms and incorporate them into their social norms programming. For example, a common strategy for changing social norms is to identify a trendsetter and promote their positive deviance widely. However, if the intersection of gender norms with social norms promoting corruption leads to different pressures on women, one would need to think carefully how to identify and promote trendsetters. Their gender may implicitly dilute the influence of the intended message with men, who may discount their non-corrupt behavior as fine for a woman, but not for a man, due to gender norms. When working with female trendsetters, programs might need to consider how intersectionality could further marginalize or harm them—for example, by exposing them to disproportionate consequences (such as losing her job or public shaming) for challenging a gender norm that women do not speak up in public. “If norms associated with different aspects of a person’s identity (such as religion and gender) interact with social norms driving corruption to influence their behavior, then programs will need to take this into account in their theories of change.” Similar adaptation would be needed to account for the influence of norms associated with other identities. If there are strong norms of mutual support and trust within a religious community, for example, or a strong norm of respect for hierarchy, this may hinder people from taking action on corruption if their religious group is implicated; these norms may need to be addressed for any anti-corruption efforts to be effective. What do we know about intersectionality of social norms? We searched the literature to figure out what knowledge exists, and we found little. Scanning a university database that accessed over 800 databases, we discovered only two articles directly addressing this issue. We did, though, find a growing literature on gender and (typically petty) corruption, and on the relationship of religion, religiosity and corruption to corrupt behaviors. There is recognition that “gendered expectations” about corruptibility—i.e., gender norms, including expectations of extra punishment if they are caught in corruption—play a role in women’s decision making about participating in corrupt acts. A similar pattern exists in relation to some other identities. There is, for example, extensive literature on the relationship of religion, religiosity, and corruption (though the findings about whether the influence is positive or not are more mixed than with gender and corruption), but few studies explicitly address the intersection of religious norms and corruption-related norms even while they recognize that the social environment is important in determining the influence of religion on corruption in specific situations. Only Leena Hoffmann’s 2021 study on religion and anti-corruption begins to address this directly. In sum, we found practically nothing on the intersection of social norms related to corruption and norms identities—such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion—associated with different identities. The gap in the literature is a recognized one. Legros & Cislaghi’s 2019 review of the state of theoretical literature on social norms (not specifically related to corruption) noted that only two out of the 22 reviews analyzed addressed intersectionality of norms. They concluded that “future cross-disciplinary reviews of social-norms theory might cover bordering theoretical space, engaging with the relation between norms theory and … intersectional inequalities based on gender, class, or race.” What’s next Our hypothesis needs to be tested. If norms associated with different aspects of a person’s identity (such as religion and gender) interact with social norms driving corruption to influence their behavior, then programs will need to take this into account in their theories of change. CJL is currently developing an action research effort to test this hypothesis and, equally important, produce a method for implementing actors to assess it in their own contexts.

  • Samer Saliba is Head of Practice at the Mayors Migration Council. An urban planner by trade, Samer has spent the last 14 years helping shift power from international humanitarian organizations to local actors. Currently, he leverages technical and financial resources—like MMC’s Global Cities Fund for Migrants and Refugees—to help city leaders implement plans, policies, and projects that address the needs of migrants and refugees. Your research interests include exploring how refugees and migrants express their agency. Tell us more about that. This sounds outlandish, but it’s not enough to save lives. We have to maximize the potential of migrants and refugees as they themselves define it. This means valuing and nurturing their agency and independence as much as we value helping them find food or shelter. I often say refugees go to camps for safety, but they go to cities for opportunity. And the best way to unlock this opportunity is to involve them in the decisions that affect their lives: engage them in city planning, shape their neighborhoods based on their preferences, put money in the hands of refugee-led organizations and community groups, give them equal opportunities to earn a living or an education, create time for them to have fun with friends and family, involve them in program design as active stakeholders instead of passive beneficiaries, and please stop painting them as powerless victims. While my work is focused on helping people find self-reliance, my doctoral research is focused on helping people find self-actualization, whatever that means for them. It’s based in this belief that you and I don’t live to survive, we live to thrive. So why should we lower the bar for others just because they’ve endured more? Migration policy is generally viewed as the responsibility of national governments, which have increasingly tightened their grip on enforcement. How can mayors work within these policies to create more receptive, welcoming cities? The frame of migration policy is different for city governments than it is for national governments. While national governments deal with migration policy – that is, border management issues – cities deal with migrant policies, those that are more focused on people than on borders. And that’s an important distinction. Mayors and their city governments can focus on the people behind terms like “immigrant,” “asylum seeker,” or “refugee” and addressing their needs and amplifying their personal agency as city residents. This focus allows them to take whole-of-community approaches that treat newcomers the same way they treat other marginalized communities, only perhaps in a different language or with added legal support. National governments can either support cities with financial resources and more enabling national policies or they can attack migrant and refugee communities in cities (especially those with tenuous migration status), but it’s hard for them to keep cities from helping people.  What other barriers does MMC help municipal leaders address? What do you see as the biggest challenge to more inclusive cities? A huge challenge is the barriers cities face in accessing funding and financing for programs and services that serve migrant, refugee, and other marginalized communities. This is true at multiple levels. At the national level, central governments often restrict cities’ international borrowing ability and give highly-restricted non-discretionary cash transfers that hamstring city-led responses. And internationally, most financial investment mechanisms require national sovereign guarantees or high levels of credit worthiness that cities—especially those in low income countries—rarely have (just 4 percent of the 500 largest cities in developing countries are deemed creditworthy). The MMC raises awareness and advocates on this issue, but we also we established the Global Cities Fund for Migrants and Refugees to directly respond to this clear and growing need. Since we first launched in 2021, the fund has grown from 1 to 5 donors, from $1M to $8M, and from 5 to more than 25 city grantees helping thousands of people around the world.  The Global Cities Fund drive international donors to a marketplace of city-led, city-designed, city-owned solutions that have greater impact at a lower cost than international NGOs, which too often create parallel structures that don’t build local capacity. And it builds a precedent of fiscal feasibility for cities that are often disregarded by international donors with low risk tolerance. 

  • These profiles depict the grit and resourcefulness required by refugees and migrants to survive–and in some cases, thrive–as they move and settle. By Marisol Hernandez, Heather Odell, Shane Sullivan, and Rosemary Ventura under the supervision of Kim Wilson  In 2022, in the cities of Cartagena and Medellín, our team of researchers examined the financial lives of Venezuelan households living and working both in downtown and more fringe geographies. We held in-person interviews with both Venezuelan migrants and local Colombians. Our goal was to understand  Venezuelan’s  financial journeys — how they were able, or not, to adapt or integrate into their new economic surroundings. In particular we wanted to understand how Mercy Corps, our sponsor, might structure its services to meet key financial gaps. Besides our interviews, we conducted transect walks, held informal conversations with landlords, bodega owners, as well as street vendors. The biographies in this volume are intended to preserve the entire financial story of selected respondents and are meant to supplement our other publications, taking the reader into the depths of individual migrant experiences. This research also informed Financial Archetypes and How to Use Them, a tool for practitioners and policymakers to improve their financial health programming. READ THE FINANCIAL BIOGRAPHIES

  • Seven Financial Archetypes characterize migrants ranging from those succeeding against all odds to those who are faltering despite having certain advantages in the Colombian context. By Marisol Hernandez, Heather Odell, Shane Sullivan, and Rosemary Ventura under the supervision of Kim Wilson In 2022, a team of Fletcher students – accompanied by their professor –  set out to understand the financial lives of Venezuelans living in Colombia. The team interviewed 88 subjects in Medellín and Cartagena, as well as another twelve respondents in Santa Marta. They interviewed Venezuelan migrants in various stages of resettlement, as well as Colombians. Their aim was to better understand the financial lives of people representing different economic classes and education levels. This information was then passed along to practitioners for programmatic use, and a subset of the data was published in December 2022. The Journeys Project and the research team decided many of the respondents shared key characteristics that, depending on their environment, allowed them to flourish or struggle. Together they created composite profiles of seven different types of respondents, dubbing them “Financial Archetypes.” Journeys believes that NGO and government training programs may benefit from using these archetypes as a tool. Having evidence-backed examples will allow practitioners to brainstorm program opportunities to meet their clients’ specific challenges and have a baseline for later evaluations. To read more about the seven archetypes and tips for how to maximize the effectiveness of the examples, download the tool below. READ THE REPORT

Upcoming Events

  1. Leir Institute Research Symposium (Virtual)

    February 9, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Newsletters

  • Leir Migration Monitor November/December 2022 Too often, migrants and refugees are presented as victims of persecution or passive recipients of aid and refuge. Research rarely investigates or emphasizes their agency and advocacy groups, whether intentionally or not, often propagate narratives of helplessness and saviorism. How might practitioners’ and policymakers’ work change if migrants and refugees are seen and depicted as active participants in their own lives? This month, we highlight research, people, and programs that seek to answer that question. In this edition: Report: How do refugees in the United States learn about race?Migrants’ Financial Archetypes: tailored approaches to financial health for practitionersWaylaid in Tijuana underscores human costs of restrictive border policiesSenior Fellow Profile: Samer Saliba, Head of Practice, Mayor’s Migration CouncilThe Medellín Model: how cities can use housing to help migrants shape their own future Read Full Newsletter Subscribe How do refugees in the United States learn about race? For many Americans, discussing race is a sticky subject. The Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate movements in 2020 thrust conversations about race into national and international spheres, prompting conversations that many avoid and find uncomfortable. The movements underscored the need for education about America’s racial history, unconscious bias, and the ways in which we can collectively build an anti-racist society. Now imagine you’re a newly-arrived migrant or refugee, unfamiliar with your new community, immersed in a new language and culture. How do you learn about, discuss, and experience race in the American context? The Refugees in Towns Project is proud to release preliminary findings from its latest project, Assessing Refugees’ Understanding of and Responses to American Race Relations. The study found that refugees learned about U.S. race relations through school, media (digital and print), word of mouth, and personal experiences of discrimination. However, the degree of this learning is heavily dependent on education level, age, and country of origin. It was conducted with the Hello Neighbor Network, placing Fletcher researchers with two refugee service providers: Hello Neighbor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Dwell Mobile in Mobile, Alabama. Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life provided financial and technical support. Learn more about how RIT will engage refugees and practitioners to co-create anti-racist programming in Tufts Now’s recent article. Read Full Newsletter Subscribe

  • Leir Migration Monitor October 2022 Last week marked Financial Inclusion Week’s 8th convening. This year focused on Inclusive Growth in a Digital Era, underscoring the duality of tech-enabled financial services as both a mitigator and catalyst of inequality. This month, we explore approaches to migrants’ financial inclusion, ranging from the essential elements of enabling environments to the usefulness of “migrant tech.”  In this month’s edition: Analysis: When does financial inclusion matter for migrants? Launch of Leir’s newest program, Digital Portfolios of the PoorSenior Fellow Profile: Jayshree Venkatesan, Research Director at the Center for Financial InclusionDispatches from a financial coach: the economic empowerment of immigrantsThe “app-ification” of migration: are niche tech products useful? Read Full Newsletter Subscribe When does financial inclusion matter for migrants?  Kim Wilson, Principal Investigator, Journeys Project  Last week, the Center for Financial Inclusion observed Financial Inclusion Week. To acknowledge the week and the work of a very able alum (more in Jayshree’s spotlight below), we’re reflecting on our research about financial inclusion in economies of displacement. Our findings are simple but often overlooked: without enabling economic policies for migrants—or at least impartial ones that don’t preclude migrants from the market—meaningful financial inclusion is rarely achieved.In 2020, Fletcher hosted a conference where we presented the findings of a longitudinal study. Over the course of eighteen months, we interviewed 428 refugees, migrants, and hosts in five research sites: Amman, Jordan; Nairobi, Kenya; Tijuana, Mexico; and Kampala and Bidibidi, Uganda. Our key findings showed that financial services, except for remittance services, were of little use to refugees and migrants. Without permission to work or open a business, there was little left over to save and any borrowing that took place was from local shops, not from formal financial service providers.The exceptions were in Tijuana, Mexico and Kampala, Uganda. In Mexico, migrants and refugees who worked in factories needed bank accounts to receive a salary. And in Kampala, Uganda, refugees successful at dodging local authorities were able to slowly build their livelihoods. However, these were the exceptions that proved the rule: they had licit means of earning an income and thus a bank account (Mexico) or a mobile money account (Kampala) was useful for capturing and storing those earnings.Our concluding theory was that for financial services to be useful, foundational rights had to be in place. Lawful means of earning an income was the most crucial among these rights as was the ability to move about freely. In Jordan, work permits for Syrians were few and far between. And for other nationalities — Yemenis, Sudanese, and Iraqis — permits were only possible with passports, something none of our respondents had. In Kenya, refugees in Nairobi and in the camps had few ways to engage in a legal livelihood. The same was true in Bidibidi, Uganda, a settlement of around 270,000 people but with few means to earn a living. Brewing alcohol, farming basic crops, and selling food rations were the only livelihoods available and Village Savings and Loan Associations (informal folk banking systems) were the only relevant services.An overarching observation was that the need for and use of financial services co-evolved with expanding livelihoods. A new arrival might earn less than $1 a day sourced from charity or a meager wage for washing clothes. If they could find work, as was the case in Uganda and Mexico, a family might patch together a portfolio of income streams and slowly progress to the point where savings accumulated, and a bank or mobile money account would become useful.However, it was not until we researched nearly 100 refugees and migrants in Colombia that we saw a true need for viable credit, meaning loans that could be used fruitfully and could be repaid on time. In Colombia, 2.5 million Venezuelan refugees are living among its various cities. We focused our interviews on those living in Cartagena, Santa Marta, and Medellín. The Colombian government has welcomed these refugees. They can apply for a ten-year residency visa (called a PPT) that affords several advantages: enrollment in the national health system, children’s enrollment in public elementary schools, and the right to work. Obtaining the visa required navigating a blizzard of red tape, and thus many refugees we spoke to did not yet have the visa in their possession. Despite this, local attitudes toward allowing Venezuelans to work were, if not welcoming, at least tolerant.And this is where we saw the need for formal loans or credit from a microfinance institution. Let’s take Maikel as an example. He has woven together four side hustles to create a somewhat steady stream of household income. Between selling coffee in the park in the mornings, taking on sporadic construction work, holding Zumba classes, and emceeing children’s birthday parties, he brought in roughly $190.00 per month. He was doing well enough to garner $320 in savings but burned through it when he booked few birthday parties and rain prevented his outdoor coffee sales and construction work. These events prompted Maikel to take out a loan from a prestadiario, a loan shark. He would have gladly borrowed from a microfinance institution, but such credit was not available to him, or to his knowledge, any other refugees. Although he recognized the 30% interest rate was steep and the procrustean payment terms too short (just a month), he’s found loan shark services useful in a pinch. He’d used prestadiarios on five occasions, each time borrowing about 100.000– 150.000 COP ($24–37 USD). When we interviewed Maikel, he had an outstanding loan of 150.000 COP ($37 USD), and he will need to pay back 220.000 COP ($54 USD) by the end of the month. We found other examples of people like Maikel, who had the permission and wherewithal to juggle multiple livelihoods, and who were borrowing from high-priced moneylenders. Our findings in Colombia confirmed our theory that as livelihoods evolve so, too, does the need for financial services. This means providers might refrain from promoting financial services for the sake of inclusion and instead promote them where they are needed and can be used well. Read Full Newsletter Subscribe

  • Leir Migration Monitor September 2022 Welcome to the inaugural edition of the monthly Leir Migration Monitor newsletter, where we bring a local angle to global issues relating to migration and its root causes. It presents clear, policy-relevant research and analysis from Leir’s people and programs. Let us know topics you would like future editions to explore. In this month’s edition: Local immigration control as political theater: how Prop 187 foreshadowed migrant busing in the U.S.South Africa’s Zimbabwe Exemption Permit cancellations: the human costs Franchising Underground Finance: Venezuelans’ creative remittance systems in EcuadorSpotlight: Senior Fellow Dr. Kimberly Howe calls for trauma-informed methodologies Read Full Newsletter Local immigration control as political theater: how Prop 187 foreshadowed migrant busing in the U.S. Dr. Katrina Burgess, Director, Leir Institute In the last three months, Governors Greg Abbott (R-Texas), Doug Ducey (R-Arizona), and Ron De Santis (R-Florida) have sent more than 10,000 migrants and asylum seekers from the U.S.-Mexico border to Washington, DC, New York, Chicago, and Martha’s Vineyard. Each week, hundreds more are dropped off at bus stations or airports with no advance notice and no coordination with local government officials or civil society organizations, who must scramble to provide the migrants with food, shelter, and medical care.The three governors are quite explicit about their intentions: to protest the Biden Administration’s immigration policies and pro-immigrant states and cities. Specifically, they blame lax border controls and sanctuary cities for the escalating levels of unauthorized entry into the U.S. which, they insist, are placing undue burdens on border communities. There is some truth to their claims about local impacts. Encounters by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the southwest border just exceeded two million in one year for the first time (although with many repeat attempts), and border communities must somehow accommodate the roughly 500,000 migrants released into the United States this fiscal year, at least until they gather enough resources to reach their intended destination while awaiting their next immigration court hearing.But there are gaping holes in the governors’ claims about what is causing these impacts. The U.S.-Mexico border is more heavily guarded and difficult to cross than it has ever been, and migrants are arriving for a complex set of reasons that may or may not include how they expect to be treated at the border (and most likely have nothing to do with sanctuary cities). Many of these migrants are exercising their legal right to request asylum, which they initiate by turning themselves over to CBP voluntarily. Moreover, Mexicans and Central Americans no longer monopolize the CBP’s border encounters; this fiscal year over 40 percent of these encounters have been with migrants from other countries. Venezuelans are by far the largest group, but they are joined by migrants from over 100 other countries reaching as far as Africa and Asia. Venezuelans, who also account for most of the migrants bused north, tend to have weaker support networks in the United States, leaving them more reliant on services provided by governments or NGOs until they can get on their feet.  Unfortunately, these nuances get lost in the demonizing rhetoric and false narratives being stoked by the three governors. Rather than working collaboratively to alleviate bottlenecks at the border, they are weaponizing the legitimate grievances of border communities for political gain. This is not a new tactic. In 1994, California Governor Pete Wilson backed a public referendum (Proposition 187) to deny all public benefits to undocumented immigrants as a way to send a message to Washington while drumming up votes for his reelection. Prop 187 proved to be bad policy but good politics. While most of the referendum’s provisions were struck down by the courts, Wilson won reelection in the midst of a recession, and Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) two years later, marking a decisive turn in the direction of restrictionist immigration policies and the criminalization of migrants. The language in Wilson’s campaign ads is uncannily similar to the rhetoric we are hearing today. But the delivery mechanism has reached new levels of cynicism and cruelty. Abbott, Ducey, and De Santis are using migrants as political pawns and choosing targets that are blatantly partisan (including Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence) and, in most cases, without any real authority to change conditions at the border. In the process, they are invoking an even more disturbing episode from the past: the so-called “Reverse Freedom Rides” in the 1960s when white supremacist groups in the South bused Black southerners to the North to “test” their commitment to civil rights.Instead of responding with further crackdowns, as in the 1990s, the Biden administration has an opportunity to alleviate the pressures on border communities while staying true to its purported support for immigrant rights. In the short term, it should consider a proposal being floated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to facilitate interior processing for migrants awaiting their court hearings, which would ease the bottlenecks at the border and allow for coordination across a wider network of destinations. In the medium to long term, it should invest in a more robust infrastructure that can respond quickly to shifting flows, reduce the enormous backlog in immigration courts, and support migrants at their most vulnerable so that the burden does not fall disproportionately on a few communities. For all these efforts, the federal government should listen carefully to local concerns and work closely with local actors to address the real needs of migrants and local residents. Much deeper reforms are needed, but these measures would go a long way to lowering the political temperature at the border and beyond. CORRECTION: Dr. Kimberly Howe’s article, “Trauma to self and other: Reflections on field research and conflict,” was published in Security Dialogue, not the Journal of Peace Research. We apologize for the error. Read Full Newsletter

  • To our alumni and friends, It has been another challenging six months for human security. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has displaced millions of people while contributing to escalating fuel and food prices around the world. Several countries in Africa are on the verge of famine. Meanwhile, the horrific shootings in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, Texas – part of an epidemic of gun violence in the United States – remind us that threats to human security are not far from home. And, sadly, these incidents intersect with other unresolved problems such as corrupt governance, militarized borders, systemic racism, climate change, and a pandemic that is still with us. Rather than despair, however, we must continue to search for creative solutions to these complex challenges. At Leir, we do so by revealing and then building on instances of human resilience and ingenuity in the face of these enormous obstacles. We have been busy working toward this goal in the last six months. As elaborated in this newsletter, Leir continued to host the following four projects: Building Resilience in Immigrant Communities (BRIC): a joint initiative with Tisch College and a local organization assisting African refugees and immigrants (ACEDONE) to co-create a program for women’s empowerment in the Boston area.Corruption, Justice and Legitimacy (CJL): a research-to-practice initiative committed to improving the effectiveness of anti-corruption programming in contexts of endemic corruption.Journeys Project: a cross-regional collection of migrant stories to better understand the costs and strategies involved in their journeys as well as the economic approaches they use when putting down roots in new surroundings.Program in Human Security and Inner Development (PHUSID): a skills-building initiative to better prepare students to work effectively and practice self-care in violent or fragile contexts. We also welcomed two new projects to the Leir Institute: Digital Portfolios of the Poor (DPP): a multi-year, multi-country project aimed at creating better digital financial products for the poor by understanding how emerging technologies are viewed, used, understood, and perceived in low income settings, particularly among women.Refugees in Towns (RIT): a multi-sited initiative to understand the migrant/refugee experience by drawing on the knowledge and perspectives of refugees themselves as well as local hosts. In addition, we organized a series of seminars, workshops, and conferences that explored diverse aspects of human security and provided funding to support human security-related research by Fletcher doctoral and master’s students.  Last but not least, we completed the strategic positioning process mentioned in our Fall newsletter. Drawing on extended conversations with Leir faculty and students, Fletcher alums, practitioners, and donors, we determined that Leir’s niche is at the intersection of human security and migration. People around the world are fleeing human insecurity in the form of war, economic collapse, non-state violence, and climate change. Meanwhile, displacement creates its own human security challenges by jeopardizing livelihoods and safety, particularly in the context of militarized responses by states. Not surprisingly, a growing number of Fletcher students are interested in exploring these intersections. And where better to do so than at the Leir Institute, which has deep expertise across these different but integrally connected issues.Based on this determination, we are planning some exciting changes at the Leir Institute. We have crafted a new mission statement and will change our name to the Henry J. Leir Institute for Migration and Human Security. We have also articulated three main areas of work moving forward: Connecting and creating synergies between experts on migration and experts on drivers of displacement such as conflict, violence, social exclusion, governance failures, and climate change;Training current and future policymakers and practitioners to bring human security expertise and adaptive leadership skills to government, international organizations, humanitarian assistance, and civic advocacy; and,Partnering with local NGOs and government agencies to build local capacity and produce applied research that uses innovative methodologies informed by the human security approach. Over the next several months, we will be launching our rebrand along with a redesigned website that will be easier to navigate and more visually appealing. To help with this endeavor, we have hired Jacob Ewing, a freshly minted Fletcher graduate, as the new Leir Project Manager. Jacob will be managing the Leir team, coordinating Leir events and outreach, and working closely with me to strengthen Leir’s institutional and financial foundation. To celebrate our new direction, our Alumni Spotlight features two alums working at the intersection of migration and human security: Emily Butera (F04) and Will Clements (F20). Stay tuned, and do not hesitate to reach out if you have ideas, concerns, or questions. As always, we welcome your ideas, feedback, and financial support as we continue with this important work. Wishing you health and safety, Katrina BurgessDirector, Henry J. Leir Institute Read More