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‘You gain a better understanding of why people migrate to certain places’

Migration and diversity are key factors in one of the most fundamental transformations of society today. Students study this phenomenon in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus master’s specialisation in Governance of Migration and Diversity.

‘You can’t fully understand migration and diversity without knowing history,’ says Nathan Levy. He is one of first graduates in the Master’s programme in Governance of Migration and Diversity. What appealed to him about this specialisation? ‘The multidisciplinary nature of the programme. I’m interested in how migration changes cities. I’m from Swansea in Great Britain and although this isn’t a known migration destination, migrants do live there, including African refugees and people from Poland. I think it’s interesting to see how migration gradually changes both our cities and our interactions in the city.

‘To fully understand migration, we need different perspectives. Migration has increased in society and it is being researched more, but more dialogue is needed between different disciplines, such as urban development, history and sociology.’

Urban design: design for interaction

‘If you look from the public administration perspective, you gain a better understanding of why people migrate to certain places. You then learn how the welfare state operates. Sociological aspects are also covered. These relate to migrants and societies, from everyday interactions to how they interact with their home country. In the Urban Design course at Delft University of Technology, we also looked at the design of a neighbourhood and how this can affect the interaction between migrants and their neighbours, for instance.

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‘What I particularly enjoyed was discovering how migration governance takes shape in practice. We visited the Essalam Mosque in Rotterdam and an asylum-seekers centre in ’s-Gravendeel. We also went to Transvaalkwartier in The Hague, which has been rebuilt in the last 20 years. It was interesting to see how municipalities try to address population change.’

Rise in populism

‘A challenge for migration policymakers is how to deal with day-to-day tensions at a city level. In recent years, we have seen a rise in populism and in support for parties that are anti-immigration. We should take these concerns seriously. But we also need to understand that people from other countries live in these cities and use and contribute to them. Migration policymakers need to address these tensions in their decisions.

See the online magazine [in Dutch] for more stories about the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus alliance.

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