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About Us

Initiative on Forced Displacement is an independent initiative at Boston University, dedicated to interdisciplinary collaboration and work on issues related to forced displacement. IFD was established by Dr.Muhammad Zaman and Dr. Carrie Preston with a goal to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and engagement between different schools at Boston University, as well as between Boston University and other universities around the globe. 


The signature course of IFD is an interdisciplinary course on forced displacement, taught by Professors Zaman and Preston, which served as a basis for the creation of our flagship program in Lebanon. As part of this program, Boston University students travel to Beirut where they study alongside students from the American University of Beirut and learn directly from academics, researchers, NGOs, and policymakers working on ongoing projects in informal tented settlements of displaced Syrians. The Lebanon program allowed the Initiative to establish other partnerships, expanding its network to include partners and programs at the University de los Andes in Colombia and Makerere University in Uganda. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to pivot our programming but also inspired us to develop new virtual courses that have wider impact and bring our colleagues from around the world together. We have devoted ourselves to local teaching through three Boston University Hub Co-curricular Courses and to developing new research platforms. Our current research projects and interests include an interdisciplinary engagement with border management and externalization and issues emerging in the US-Mexico and EU-Serbia borderlands, as well as a project on climate change on forced displacement. 



global engagement




The Initiative on Forced Displacement (IFD)  provides a platform for research, pedagogy, and global engagement in an innovative and truly interdisciplinary manner by fostering multidisciplinary collaborations amongst faculty, students, and staff from multiple universities across the world. Through a tripartite mission focused on teaching, research, and service, the Initiative trains the next generation of global leaders, supports rigorous research, and develops strong local and international partnerships, establishing Boston University as a leader in interdisciplinary engagement with the crisis of forced displacement. 



IFD serves as a platform for educators, students, researchers, activists, and policymakers to engage in interdisciplinary research, discussion, and education about forced displacement. Through interdisciplinary, international collaboration, we engage in and think about resolving challenges of forced displacement, one of the major moral imperatives of our time. By connecting with local communities in Boston and with our partners in Uganda, Columbia, and Lebanon, IFD learns directly from and with the communities grappling with challenges of forced displacement and creates venues for new ways of thinking, research, and program and project design.  

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