Research program 2010 - 2013

Rethinking Development and International Relations: In Search of Alternatives 


Background and
Rationale
The historical process of creating a capitalist world economy is the backdrop to understanding contemporary capitalism on a world scale. Instead of rupture with the logic of capitalism what is taking place can be understood as a continuation of the process by other means. This notwithstanding, the present-day interaction of globalization with development (explicated as structural transformation processes within developing and transitional societies) raises issues, challenges, problems, possibilities and constraints in explaining current world trends. Globalization can thus refer to the processes and consequences arising from the dynamics of world politics, economics, social and cultural trends following the end of the Cold War. Its dominant socioeconomic aspect has been associated with the policies of privatization, commodification, short-term fiscal stabilization and liberalization of economies, polities, societies, and the clawback of public sector activities as well as the simultaneous introduction of market criteria in public institutions. Geo-economically speaking, time and space compression, the high velocity of interactions, networks, flows of information, money, people and social activities, owing to the technological revolution in telecommunications, production and transport systems, microelectronics, biotechnology and new advanced materials, together with the expansion of the private sector and the shrinkage of the public sphere may describe contemporary world capitalism.

The importance of imperialism or geopolitics—finding expression in unequal and uneven development—in the historical expansion of capitalism into a world system has to be recognized. This applies equally in the present-day context. As recognized by former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, globalization could be understood as the Americanization of the world. Consequently, the conflicts over the direction of world politics and economics in the post-Cold War world ought to be seen in this light. 

On the one hand, attempts have been made to capture the temper of the time with finalist discourses and expressions such as ‘the end of history’, ‘the clash of civilizations’, ‘the borderless world’, and ‘the world is flat’. On the other hand, we see the attempt by the core countries to impose unilateral dictate on the world (regime change), the global and timeless war on terror (preemptive wars), the rise of speculative finance since the 1990s (Casino Capitalism), concern over the spread of new and inexplicable diseases like HIV-AIDS, SARS, and other threatening pandemics. At the same time, the morphological implosion such as earthquakes and tsunami phenomena has starkly displayed the social and environmental vulnerability of the poor. Another factor affecting societies in both the core and the periphery is the rise and spread of organized crime and the like (risk society). The mal-functioning of the system has given rise to movements calling for justice-sensitive, fair, equitable and environmentally sustainable globalization. The implementation of neoliberalism, as promoted through the Washington Consensus, has resulted in wealth creation and concentration along with acute poverty increases territorially and socially across the world. This evolution has given rise to protests against increasing polarization and inequalities, asymmetric economic and political power distribution in the world, the pervasive insecurities of individuals and communities, the dissipation of the expected peace dividend into a peace penalty after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the continuation of intractable conflicts in many parts of the developing world, the incomplete transition to full economic, social and political democratic societies, and the further commodification of welfare, nature and the intimate sphere also in core countries. Anti-globalization movements and elements have been vociferous in turning post-Cold War globalization into a contested terrain for political activity. Calls such as ‘Another World is Possible’ have been made in successive meetings of the World Social Forum.

A paradox of the present epoch is related to the fact that the dichotomy between “what is” and “what ought to be” in the establishment of a heuristic research agenda has not yet had a noteworthy impact on either conventional social sciences or political practices in most countries of the world capitalist system. However, given the depth and scope of the unfolding crisis the world is undergoing, it is doubtful that the attitude of "business as usual" can, or will, be maintained in the medium and longer term. The reason for this prognostic is that the systemic crisis the world is experiencing will probably be the most severe in the history of capitalism, certainly since the Great Depression of the 1930s. 

The definition of the crisis invariably delineates the various approaches of social sciences. While mainstream sees the crisis as the result of the breakdown of the financial sector caused by the greed of large financial houses and private actors, the critical approach sees an accumulation of diverse, though, related crises. According to the holistic framework of our Research Center on Development and International Relations, the CRISIS can be conceptualized as an organic conglomerate of interrelated and interdependent crises in the system’s mode of functioning. Seen in this light, the situation can best be understood as not only several crises of capitalism but as “capitalism in crisis” to use a formulation by Samir Amin.

The utopia which humanity was promised after the end of the Cold War, the demise of state socialism, and the victory of neoliberal globalization are turning into a dystopia putting peoples’ survival at risk. The “revolution of rising expectations” which was used to mobilize peoples’ optimism following the Second World War is being replaced by the present pessimism of “unfulfilled expectations.”

Global geo-economic and geopolitical dislocations accompany the generalized angst and frustrations of populations in most of the world. States are finding themselves at the threshold of bankruptcy. Societies face painful rising unemployment, falling wage levels, increasing competition between established national working classes and those of emerging nations, cuts in public provisions, health care and wages, and decreases of public services. Serious food insecurity and hunger are threatening the livelihood of people in both the global South as well as increasingly in the North. The world political order is experiencing the disintegration of the global system of governance as reflected in the failure of COP15 climate summit in Copenhagen, growing Sino-US disagreements, Western wars in the Muslim world as well as regional wars in Africa, danger of conflagration of the conflict between Israel and Iran. The bottom line of this evolution is the relative decrease in the ability of the US hegemon to control the geo-economics and geopolitics of the world (crisis of hegemony). At the same time the “socio-ecological decline” caused by the generalized mode of production and patterns of consumption is growing at an increasing pace.

To a certain extent “capitalism in crisis” includes the financial, economic, ecological, and social crises. Not to be ignored however, it is also an anthropological crisis to the extent that humanity’s values and level of civilization are threatened by the logic of the system which turns human activities (both mental and physical) into commodities that can be purchased and discarded.

Humanity is truly entering uncharted territory opening the way for numerous attempts to resolve or cope with the ongoing systemic crisis. The resolution of the crisis will demand a high degree of “sociological imagination” (C.W. Mills) on the part of critical social sciences and political praxis on the part of social forces at all levels of the world system. We are moving into a dangerous period of human history which also offers openings to new thinking and new politics. It can be foreseen that the future will be characterized by the search for “exit strategies” and sustainable societal models as well as “survival strategies.” 

The Double Movement: Globalization Begets Anti-globalization
Neoliberal globalization has engendered social sensitive protests and the search for alternatives. Generally speaking, governments and transnational companies have stood for the spread of economic globalization while sections of civil society, social movements and activists have mounted anti-capitalist opposition to the implementation of neoliberalism. Both sets of actors share a framework largely propelled by strong ideological convictions. Different trends exist within dissenting movements and groups as in the case for the forces working to spur the mainly economic-led globalization processes to the whole world. Some resistance movements wish to engage with globalization hoping to work with established institutions such as the UN, the World Economic Forum, IMF, World Bank, WTO and the like. Others try to do both: protest and engage at the same time with established institutions. Still others wish to position themselves as dissidents maintaining a commitment of opposition to neoliberal globalization.

There are thus varied manifestations of the different social movements across the world. Some are professionalized and others are spontaneous, grassroots, amateurish and issue-based movements. Some operate locally whilst others have a global reach and networks. Of those with ties to the global civil society, some are conservative. There are those that ally with multinational corporations who are the purveyors of present-day global commodification; others are fundamentalist movements. Some belong to what has been described as “military civil society.” Generally speaking it can be said that progressive global activism has emerged from social movements from within civil society for the cancellation of debt, the demand for fair WTO-trade rules and the struggle for both social and environmental justice. Other social movements, fueled by the loss of livelihood, engage in radical protests and actions to reclaim land and access to natural resources. Armed social movements standing for either progressive change or clerical reaction to modernization have also emerged. Regardless of the form of organization and level of maturity, the progressive activist sections of all the movements raise issues related to redressing the injustices causing the sufferings of social groups and people in different time and space as well as focusing on the protection of nature from degradation or abuse. The conflict between globalization and anti-globalization has become a stimulant for the generation of a creative research agenda in the sphere of international political economy. 

Bringing Nature Back In
A sea-change of historical significance originated in the 1960s. During this decade, the world experienced new social forces promoting an ideological discourse that questioned the legitimacy of the “modus operandi” of conventional economics, politics and sociological structures. The emergence of the environmental along with the global peace movement (anti-Vietnam war), the civil rights movement in the United States, the liberation struggle and decolonization in the Asian-African world, the youth rebellion and the Cultural Revolution in China, the rise of feminism and life-style movements put into question existing ideological hegemonies, social hierarchies and authority systems. Putting these questions on the societal agenda was accompanied by a period of protests and resistance to established forms of politics.

Except for the environmental movement, the stamina and momentum of these dissident movements have not continued at the same level. The movements have shaped different types of activities. Some have evolved into civil society organizations; others have become professional advocacy groups that try to get specific issues such as gender, human rights, environment, education, health, and discrimination into official policy agendas. In some instances governments and transnational corporations that have been targeted by such movements have in turn themselves adopted some of the issues. A case in point is the environment.

The entrance of the environment as a factor in the equation of capitalist production and pattern of consumption represents a radical change in the understanding of development and international relations. The emergence and expansion of historical capitalism to the entire planet was based on the notion of nature as a cost-free resource whose utilization-consequences could be externalized from the costs of production. Now, the environmental question has turned into an arena for a multi-stakeholder engagement with differing and often clashing agendas. The earlier social and political phase has been co-opted through a professionalization and institutionalization phase with the willing participation of governments in alliance with business espousing notions of ‘green capitalism’, ‘natural capitalism’, ‘cleaner technology and production’, industrial ecology, and ecological modernization. Especially in the South, notions like ‘the ecological debt’ have been raised. Ecological modernization, in turn, has been countered by notions of the global ‘risk society’ understood as the need to challenge the consequences of the drive to hyper-modernization through what has been called ‘reflexive modernity’.

Since the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the world environment, governments and business have engaged with the issues raised by social movements. At the 1992 Rio Summit, there was a call by governments, corporations, global civil society and local NGOs for launching an environmentally sensitive globalization that lies somewhere between the poles of economic globalization and anti-globalization. The attempt to color the on-going globalization process “green” can be captured by what has been described as “sustainable globalization.” The UN has spearheaded a summit process where environmental or sustainable globalization for lack of a better term can be coupled with development to make globalization work in the interest of nature and the developing economies by establishing or calling for a fair and equitable multilateral system of economy and politics.

The term “sustainable development” has entered the vocabulary of development studies, suggesting that economic growth cannot in the contemporary world be based on a philosophy of business as usual. UN-led global Summits on environment and development have continued to take place every five years since 1992. These Summits have been sites for the declaration often of good intentions. For example at the 2002 Summit it was declared that it was indispensable to make “fundamental changes in the way societies produce and consume for achieving global sustainable development.” Nevertheless, to date, the aspiration to change the ways societies produce and consume has not been translated into reality. It has been suggested that the area where 20% of the world population live occupies 80% of the world environment and economic space.

The failure of the COP15 conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 serves to show that the socio-economic and political divide of the world between the developed countries (the OECD-countries), the emerging countries (the BRIC-countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the poor countries releases clashes of interest between the different nation-states. The failed attempt by the Western countries under the leadership of the United States to impose a document on the some 190 nations present in Copenhagen serves to show a shift in the balance of forces on the international level with the West being defied by the rest. The victim of course is nature which will also come to affect humanity in the future. 

Justice Still Waiting To Be Redressed
Successive UNDP Human Development Reports since the 1990s continue to direct attention to the stark difference between the poor and the rich worlds. The regions, where four-fifths of the world’s population lives, have the largest number of poor people. According to the 2002 Human Development Report, 1.3 billion people are said to live in absolute poverty. This continued poverty and wealth polarization is worrying, expanding and not narrowing. Ideas to deal with the problem are not in short supply, but there has been a singular failure to tackle the persistence of poverty in the world.

Since the 1990s, global institutions such as the World Bank have re-oriented their development conceptions and strategies to focus on what is known as “poverty reduction.” In 1998 the World Bank produced its Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF) and tried to prioritize poverty reduction over market trickle-down economic conceptions of growth and development. In 1999, the Bretton Woods Institutions tied the production of country-specific poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs) to the provision of conditional lending and debt-relief to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs).

For its part the UN has originated its own initiative for the reduction of world poverty with the launching of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The ambition is to reduce the global population that lives on 1 US dollar a day by half by the year 2015. Concrete goals, sectors, targets and indicators for measuring progress against world poverty have been set. In December 2001 the World Bank produced a report under the title Globalization, Growth and Poverty: Building an Inclusive World Economy. In 2004, the ILO-initiated World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalization produced a report on how to bring about a ‘fair globalization for creating opportunities for all.” There have also been a number of regional (e.g., EU and OECD) and national initiatives (e.g., the Blair Commission for Africa). However, declarations of “education for all” and “health for all” are belied by the attempt to commodify these services through the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

Despite the rhetoric for a fair and inclusive world economy, the North-South divide between rich and poor remains. Wealth concentration in the North continues simultaneously with poverty increases in the South as well as pockets of impoverishment within Northern societies. Dominant discourses and policies of development suffer from serious conceptual shortcomings. The Washington-based international organizations speak of “poverty reduction”—not of “poverty eradication”—or of making “poverty history”. The policy approaches required to reduce or eradicate poverty cannot be based on a “one-size-fits-all” approach. The policy tools for poverty reduction are often feeble and ignore the structural power and distribution of resources whilst poverty eradication requires policies that encourage development of the production base and global redistribution of power and wealth. For poverty eradication, a deeper conceptualization of the reasons why wealth creation and accumulation tend to be accompanied with territorial and social disparity is needed. However, poverty reduction does not require a conceptual interrogation of how wealth is created by uneven spatial and unequal social processes of development. Poverty reduction is easily embraced by (most) sections of policy-makers who dominate contemporary world political and economic landscape. The conceptualization of development in order to make poverty history or eradicate poverty requires a different set of policy measures and political and economic capacities. The measures need to include bringing about structural change morphing into a global redistribution and raising the social capacity to establish and maintain functioning social welfare and security systems. Mainstream approaches have settled for a deficit understanding of development to bring about the goal of poverty reduction rather than embracing a robust goal capable of inspiring a structural change-inducing development paradigm for the eradication of poverty.

There is an acute need to put the goal of poverty eradication on the agenda to redress the historical and prevailing morally and politically unacceptable injustice. Attempts have to be made to mount theoretical and conceptual critiques of the feeble discourses on poverty reduction. The spawning of a whole poverty reduction industry that has staked its case in denying agency to the poor by treating them as patients has to be countered by creating metaphors, heuristics, critiques and emancipatory epistemological practices in order to revitalize development theory geared to bringing about structural change.

Political forces from the left to the right say they would like to see the unacceptable situation of the poor change irreversibly. Serious analyses must be carried out to ferret out the conceptions, theories, strategies, policies and practices that hinder structural changes that would truly make poverty history. What is lacking is a clear perception of how to bring about necessary structural change or the will to steer globalization into becoming a factor of positive transformation. 

Why "Rethinking Development and International Relations: In Search of Alternatives"?
We have chosen a research direction for the triennial period under the generic theme: "Rethinking Development and International Relations: In Search of Alternatives" to capture the dilemma between reality and vision. Why does the gap between the wish and the will, the rhetoric and the practice, the talk and the walk, and the thinking and the doing persist? What are the deeper reasons that continue to upset the best-laid plans inscribed often in international reports and goals from being realized? The Research Center on Development and International Relations programme will dig deeper, excavate and unearth the reasons for the persistence of absolute and relative world poverty and increasing inequality, why "mother nature" continues to be ruptured rather than being nurtured. Our Research Center will relate issues, problems and puzzles beyond globalization and development in search of alternative futures.

The UN-commissioned Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) involved the work of thousands of world’s leading scientists and experts on the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being. The report suggests that the human race cannot take for granted nature, which cannot be conserved without breaking under the current pressures of human numbers and putting an end to the way humans extract their existence, survival and happiness through its continuous torture. The experts call for new ideas and new initiatives at the global level to deal with contemporary complex and pressing problems of nature and justice. Whilst this wish to redress both nature and justice invites no obvious argument, research needs to concentrate on the reasons and mechanisms why current local and global conceptions, governance arrangements, institutions, and the political-economic conflicts that shape them have fallen short of promoting human intellectual capacities to root out such global problems from festering, haunting and afflicting humanity in the 21st century.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that both the crisis of nature and the crisis of social justice sit uneasily in the current dominant discourses and practices of globalization emanating from the Washington-based institutions of the IMF and World Bank. There have been attempts to contest the Washington consensus with a post-Washington consensus from within the development studies profession. We live inside a system of “global governance without global government” where a few institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO along with a few players that include finance, trade and commercial ministries and financial and commercial private interests dominate the world’s economic, political and intellectual life. The link between the crisis of nature and crisis of social justice in the context of the current global governance system and the resistance and dissidence this state of affairs engenders constitutes an important sphere for theoretical activity. From the perspective of the Research Center on Development and International Relations, we deem the time to be ripe for nurturing and promoting basic research capable of engaging the ideas of sustainability and social justice with the more market-led globalization forces and the resistance movements. The intention is to generate and nurture new insights and directions in order to broaden and deepen the frontiers of social scientific scholarship.

The triennial research programme "Rethinking Development and International Relations: In Search of Alternatives" tries to capture both the essence and content of the present international political economy while striving to define an independent alternative conception to “globalization” by engaging with both the existing corpus of conventional international relations and current development scholarship. Critical inquiry must apply to every tradition of scholarship emanating both from the left and the right. When we think of globalization and beyond it, and development and beyond it, and the future and its challenges, the alternatives are linked to our ability and research policy to maintain independence of approach and perspective from both conventional and non-conventional framing and thinking. It is this independence that optimizes the critical thrust of research and also sharpens the critical capacities of researchers. Critical inquiry imbued with an independent spirit thus enjoins research and researchers to engage with reflexivity, including one’s own works, both on the economic-driven globalization and the current alternatives offered by various protagonists engaged in the arena of globalization and development.

There is thus a need for research, at a conceptual and empirical level, of the political, economic, social and cultural forces that express different ideas of the good society whilst in conflict with each other on the basis of various units of analyses. The discursive framework of globalization and development for economic growth and competitiveness stands in opposition to discursive framework of globalization and development aiming to usher a sustainable, equitable, fair and just future, based on the inclusion of the aspirations of the majority of the world’s population that is excluded from enjoying a prosperous existence.

In the 21st century, the former contest between capitalism (with its many variants) and socialism (with its many variants) has now become a struggle between the expansion of commodification and the attempt to establish a counter-movement for the retention or extension of a non-commodified realm. In this dichotomy a space was created especially in Scandinavia where a system promoting private property while preserving social security and welfare was organized and maintained. The modus operandi of this model was based on maintaining a regulated labour market whilst increasing labour productivity, promoting economic growth without breaking social solidarity, nurturing the market whilst keeping the state strong. The resulting compromise between the over-dominance of the "liberal-democratic" preference to privilege the market or the "social-democratic" tendency to favour public steering policy through the use of the powers of the state was the structural framework of the model. However, this social-democratic arrangement typical of Scandinavian society has itself been undergoing adjustments to the pressures of neoliberalism and globalization. Consequently, the state functions more like a ‘business enterprise’ which promotes the ethos of competition and hierarchy within the formerly non-commodified sector. The introduction of the market ideology and market mechanisms into the public sphere has generated the phenomenon of public-private partnership. What we see throughout the world is that the public sphere and what is known as the “commons” have come under the pressures of the all-private, the all-market and the valorising of labouring activities through confrontations with a monetary constraint in every sphere of social activity. From its former position as mediator between market forces and social actors (working classes), the state has in the past thirty years promoted the implementation of neoliberalism and adjustment to the demands of the world market.

Seen in this light, globalization does not only affect the social, economic, and political dimensions of development, but it also influences the intellectual debate to set a counter-discursive agenda. The bottom line is whether or not to expand commodification or de-commodification throughout the real and virtual worlds—i.e., the real and dot.com world social-economy. The discussion has centered on the question of understanding how actually existing politics and economics are organized from the local to the global and vice versa. The inquiry on how politics and economics can be changed in the future is related to the issue of how people, as human beings, can create viable future options that are not predicated on a logic that is built on the double degradations of nature and people’s labour. Research undertaken to elucidate and make sense of the multi-layered contestation of the directions and instrumental theorizing inspired by mainstream with their discursive orientations, on the one hand, and theoretical and practical resistances coming from critical movements and civil society, on the other hand, is of crucial significance for the future. In terms of strategies of social and economic change, the mainly economic-led development strategies are countered with the alternative development trajectories arguing for the de-coupling of production and consumption from the dominating logic of commoditized paths and realms. The old dichotomy in social sciences between studying "what is” rather than “what ought to be" is as topical as ever. The Research Center on Development and International Relations undertakes research in “what is” but not shy away from studying "what ought to be."

The Question of Normative Freedom
It has become now commonsense that research is not value-free. That is to say, research does not take place in a normative vacuum. There will always be a subjective choice whether the normative purpose is explicitly acknowledged or to be discovered by the analyst. Explicitly stated or implicitly left unstated, normative subjectivities are difficult to expunge from any research agenda. That is to say, it is clear that the normative preferences that researchers choose impact on the kind of research that is carried out. Whilst freedom to make normative choices is recognized as legitimate, DIR’s researchers are encouraged to imbue their research with “sociological imagination” based on a commitment to resist the degradation of nature and labour throughout the world. As a research centre, DIR endeavours to create a space conducive for debate on development and international relations where intellectual dissidence and critique are the norm and not the exception. In this manner, DIR offers a space where dissenting trainees and researchers find a voice and build capacity by engagement with, rather than by isolation from, received and dominant ideas. The space is open to doubt and debates, and the hope is that a vibrant intellectual community consisting of targeted PhD trainees, post-graduate students and researchers bearing distinctive scholarship grow within such an open and critical knowledge milieu. The acceptance of a plurality of approaches in the intellectual environment inclusive of all segments and views will optimize the overall critical thrust, culture, research dialogue and the possibilities of creating a community of highly discerning scholars.

 

Values
The Research Center on Development and International Relations (DIR) is inspired by the values of research that engenders critical inquiry and thinking, creativity and open-mindedness. The Research Center recognizes the paramount importance of academic freedom for the generation and dissemination of knowledge in the field of development and international relations. It has an open approach to research and knowledge production and works towards the achievement of a dynamic research culture in order to develop in a nurturing and humane environment.

Scientific Premises and Methodology
The Research Center on Development and International Relations is guided by the objective of generating and producing high quality innovative research using analytically integrative and inter-disciplinary approaches based on the principle of independence. The intention is to contribute to the field of development and international relations by undertaking deep reflection and knowledge creation. 

Tasks and Objectives

  • Research and knowledge production through the use of trans-disciplinary and action-oriented approaches
  • Development of independent, critical and reflexive scholarship by engaging with other traditions of scholarship that have, to varying degrees of influence, dominated mainstream theory-building and policy discourses since World War II in both development studies and international relations


TEACHING PROGRAMMES

Masters Programme in Development and International Relations

The Masters Programme in Development and International Relations is an intensive two-year (four semesters) course. It aims at providing an interdisciplinary insight in studies of development and international relations from a social sciences’ perspective. Students are expected to acquire knowledge about various theoretical approaches to the study of development and international relations, ability to analyze aspects of economic, cultural, political and societal developments from an interdisciplinary perspective, and benefit from the experience of working in an inter-cultural environment derived both from participation in the international degree programme at Aalborg University and from an internship.

The first semester is based on courses and project work. The second semester concentrates on theories and methodologies of Development and International Relations. The third semester consists either of a study period at a foreign university or an internship in an institution or organization having an international relations or development dimension in its activities. The fourth semester is devoted to the writing of a Masters thesis.

Chinese Area Studies
The program in Development and International Relations, Chinese Area Studies (CAS) can be chosen as an integral part of the existing masters programmes, such as Development and International Relations, European Studies, Culture, Communication and Globalization, Tourism, and History. It enables students to focus on “China” as a particular field of specialization within the two degree programmes.

The curriculum of the Chinese Area Studies is designed to provide a broad understanding of Chinese society, history and culture, economic and political development, contemporary issues as well as the scale of China’s current and expected impact on the world economy and international relations.

The curriculum consists of a number of lectures designed to introduce China in an integrated and interdisciplinary manner (history, culture, political science, sociology, international relations and international political economy). Through these interdisciplinary approaches students are expected to be capable of comprehending and analyzing China-related issues and problems in a holistic and coherent combination.


Global Refugee Studies
(Copenhagen Institute of Technology / Aalborg University Copenhagen)

The program in Development and International Relations, Global Refugee Studies is a two-year (four semesters) program under the Study Board for International Affairs. It aims to provide interdisciplinary insight in studies on refugees and forced migration in an international development perspective and from a social sciences’ perspective.

Students are expected to acquire knowledge about different theoretical approaches to the study of refugees, forced migration and international development, ability to analyze aspects of economic, cultural, environmental, political and societal developments regarding forced migration from an interdisciplinary perspective, and benefit from the experience of working in an inter-cultural environment derived both from participation in the international degree program at Copenhagen Institute of Technology (Aalborg University Copenhagen) and from an internship experience.