The Leir Institute’s research is rooted in our mission: to help policymakers and practitioners develop more equitable and sustainable responses to migration and its root causes by employing a human security approach. True to this approach, our programs combine practice, education, and research that employs multi-disciplinary frames of analysis, drawing on principles of governance, human rights, gender, conflict resolution, livelihoods, nutrition and public health, and humanitarian assistance.  

Our current programs include: 

Digital Portfolios of the Poor (DPP) is 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. The project is a joint initiative with Decodis, a social research company founded and led by Leir Senior Fellow Dr. Daryl Collins. 

Disrupted Mobilities is a multimedia project inspired by the Leir-sponsored 2019 documentary, Waylaid in Tijuana, that explores the intersecting effects of blocked asylum, deportation, and restricted cross-border movement in communities along the US-Mexico border. 

Hopes, Fears, and Illusion (HFI) examines how U.S.-bound migrants assess risk and process information along their journeys to the U.S.-Mexico border. This program is led by Professor Katrina Burgess and Dr. Kimberly Howe.

The Journeys Project (JP) examines 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 Leadership in Migration Initiative (LMI) its primary goal is to establish a comprehensive understanding of migration leadership through global best practices and real-world experiences, fostering constructive dialogues on effective leadership in this domain.

The Refugees in Towns project (RIT)  promotes understanding of the migrant/refugee integration experience by drawing on the knowledge and perspectives of refugees themselves as well as local hosts.  

Learn more about Leir’s past programs here.  

Latest Updates

  • How the Inter-American Court Could Advance Protection for Climate-Displaced Individuals By Felipe Navarro, Policy & Advocacy Manager at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS) and Fletcher School, MALD ’15. In a piece published in Just Security, Felipe Navarro discusses protection for climate-displaced individuals in the context of cross-border displacement. The piece draws from an amicus brief that the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS) filed in collaboration with partner organizations and academics to inform the Court’s upcoming advisory opinion on the “Climate Emergency and Human Rights.” It includes insights from Navarro’s preparation for his participation in the April public hearings in Barbados, held as part of the process of the advisory opinion by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR). Read more of Felipe Navarro’s article here:

  • To our alumni and friends, I am pleased to announce a new practice of publishing our spring newsletter on World Refugee Day to celebrate the strength and courage of people who have been displaced from their homes. In this spirit, I am dedicating my letter to the millions of ordinary people who are making a meaningful difference against overwhelming odds. Their efforts are allowing a few rays of sunshine to break through the storm clouds of violence and oppression. 

  • City Governments as Humanitarian Actors: Learning from the Global Cities Fund for Migrants and Refugees By Samer Saliba, Director of City Practice at the Mayors Migration Council and Senior Fellow at the Henry J. Leir Institute In this piece, Samer Saliba uses the urban theory lens to illustrate how cities can help offer displaced people access to citizenship. He states that “the increasing number of forcibly displaced seeking safety and opportunity in cities creates an opportunity for citizenship and agency; not national citizenship, but urban citizenship.” He views “city governments [as] capable humanitarian actors who view refugees not as a problem to be solved, but citizens of their cities, entitled to the same rights and privileges as any other resident.” Read more of Samer Saliba’s article here:

  • Mediterranean Corridors – Tracing the Footsteps of Organized Crime Groups (OCGs) in Migrant Smuggling Article for the April, web edition of Praxis The Fletcher Journal of Human Security, By Aristedis Bouras In his article for Praxis, Aristedis Bouras analyzes migrant movements on the Mediterranean Sea. “The Mediterranean, known for its historical significance, now witnesses the plight of thousands seeking safer shores, only to encounter dangerous journeys.” After describing the dangers awaiting migrants during their journey across, Bouras writes: “As the Mediterranean continues to bear witness to one of the most significant movements of people in modern history, the stories of those who traverse its waters are a testament to both human desperation and resilience. The need for informed, compassionate, and effective policies has never been more critical.” Read more of Aristedis Bouras article here: