Virtual Panel Discussions: FFVT Policy and Practice Dialogue 2020 - Refugee Research in Conversation

Since the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees in Germany in 2015, public discussions about forced displacement and migration in Germany have intensified. Some policymakers and representatives of the media use figures, facts and scientifically researched contexts very selectively to underpin their respective narratives and arguments. The contextualisation of individual pieces of information often takes a back seat. Instead, the play with attitudes, emotions and prejudices dominates.

With the FFVT Policy and Practice Dialogue 2020, FFVT entered into dialogue with actors from academia, politics, public administration, media and the public to discuss the diverse experiences on the topic of knowledge exchange in the context of forced migration and refugees. The event took place on 10 December 2020 and marked the start of an annual series. The aim was to outline how Forced Migration and Refugee Studies in Germany and Europe can contribute as a "voice of evidence" to the social and political debate around forced displacement, asylum and integration.

For this purpose, the FFVT Policy and Practice Dialogue was split into three panel discussions. Invited guests of the first panel were Professor Dr Annette Treibel-Illian (University of Education Karlsruhe), Dr Danielle Gluns (University of Hildesheim) and Professor Dr Rinus Penninx (University of Amsterdam), who discussed the interplay between science, politics and the public in the context of forced displacement and migration. In the second panel, Dr Axel Kreienbrink (Federal Office for Migration and Refugees), Bärbel Dieckmann (Chairwoman of the federal government's specialist commission on the root causes of displacement), Berivan Aymaz (member of the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia, Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen) and Dr Steffen Angenendt (German Institute for International and Security Affairs, SWP) discussed their experiences with content-related exchange formats between politics/public administration and Forced Migration and Refugee Studies. In the third panel, Andrea Dernbach (newspaper Der Tagesspiegel), Dr Margret Karsch (Expert Council on Integration and Migration—SVR Migration) and Dr Simon Goebel (Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt) exchanged views and experiences on Forced Migration and Refugee Studies in the media and public sphere.

The dialogues in the panel discussions made it clear that the different focus of interests in knowledge production (in science) and knowledge use (in politics and the public) is a central challenge for exchange formats. The panellists emphasised that the interests and intentions of one field often did not match the requirements, needs and language of the other. Accordingly, the cultivation of existing cooperation and its expansion (both on an individual and institutional level) is particularly important for successful dialogue and exchange formats. FFVT would like to build on this by strengthening existing dialogue structures (such as the cooperation with the German Network for Forced Migration Studies [NWFF], the Expert Council on Integration and Migration [SVR Migration] and the Migration Media Service [Mediendienst Integration]), establishing new connections and regular exchange formats with representatives from politics, public administration, the media and the public. The aim is also to address and involve a broader, more diverse audience to increase the reach of the formats for dialogue and knowledge transfer.

Author: Merlin Flaig, Networking coordinator, DIE – Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik / German Development Institute.

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