Centre for Refugee Studies in the Asia Pacific approved to open

The University of Auckland has approved the Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies (CAPRS) as a faculty research centre within the Faculty of Education and Social Work. The Centre will be the first of its kind to open in the Asia Pacific region.

Associate Professor Jay Marlowe and Dr Gül İnanç

Co-directed by Associate Professor Jay Marlowe of the Faculty of Education and Social Work and Dr Gül İnanç of Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), the Centre hopes to inform and develop positive solutions to conflict and climate induced displacement. Human rights lawyer, alumna of the University of Auckland, (and former refugee) Rez Gardi, is also involved as one of its founding members.

“From the outset, the centre will be driven by a transformative agenda that places social justice and human rights as core aspects of our work and will empower refugee voices on issues that impact us,” says Rez Gardi.


70.8million people worldwide are displaced annually, with a current rate of 26 people newly displaced every minute.

Over the last decade, more than 24 million people have been displaced by climate related hazards on an annual basis.

Despite these escalating problems, there are only a few well-established academic centres on refugee studies in the world and until now, none focussed primarily on the Asia-Pacific region.

To address this gap, the co-founders received philanthropic seed funding last year to establish CAPRS through Singapore based Potato Productions. Since then, the centre has also received funding from the Vice Chancellor’s Strategic Development Fund to support the work of Pacific scholars focused on forced displacement.

“We are facing unprecedented numbers of forced displacement — now more than ever — we need to work together to come up with practical effective responses to forced displacement through multidimensional, multidisciplinary, and intersectional approaches,” says Rez Gardi.

High impact research

The Centre aims to respond to these challenges through evidence-based scholarship and high-impact research to inform positive approaches to support people forcibly displaced by both climate change and conflict induced displacement.

“Finding the best responses for these complex questions and the likely displacement of millions requires good research and a commitment to translating the findings into impact,” say the co-directors Dr Gül İnanç and Associate Professor Jay Marlowe.

“Displaced people (asylum seekers, refugees, stateless, internally displaced due to conflict and climate change) and their protection via education, health, economic inclusion, integration, resettlement policies will be the focus of our Centre. We are excited to work closely with displaced people in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and many more countries in the region. We aim to create scholarship identified by people currently displaced to respond to current and future challenges associated with forced migration,” adds Dr Gül İnanç.

A site of collaboration

The Centre intends to be highly collaborative in nature, working with refugee communities and scholars across the Asia-Pacific region.

The CAPRS team will be working closely with the following affiliated scholars from the University of Auckland: Anna Hood, Andreas Neef, Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, Louise Humpage, Nicholas Rowe, Ritesh Shah and Yvonne Underhill-Sem.

“My vision is that it will be something that will be done collaboratively, where we bring in forms of research excellence and expertise that then give voice and provide capacity to those who are best placed to develop the potential solutions to these challenging and complex problems,” says Associate Professor Jay Marlowe.

CAPRS will act as a proactive platform for future thinking and planning. We would like to bring the expertise from multi-disciplines to work on the scenarios for future displacement. These platforms will be inclusive for students and will act as participatory learning spaces. We need to think 50-100 years ahead by imagining utopic and dystopic societies of the future now, in order to create alternative road maps for tomorrow. We are going through a major social transformation as humanity because of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Another focus area of CAPRS will be the ethical and effective use of digital technologies for the mass displacements of the future” adds Dr Gül İnanç.

“The centre will bring together actors from academia, government, civil society, government, private sector, and refugee communities to respond to these challenges through evidence-based scholarship with a focus on high impact research that can lead to real results for displaced communities. I am hopeful that the centre will contribute to positive change, inclusion, and social cohesion in New Zealand and the Asia Pacific,” concludes Rez Gardi.