The Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees (CESSMIR) is an interdisciplinary consortium aimed at societal impact at Ghent University. CESSMIR includes about 100 researchers from seven different faculties. Three elements form the key thread in CESSMIR’s activities: interdisciplinarity, societal impact, and participation. Hence we stimulate interdisciplinary research projects and university-wide courses, organize practical trainings for practitioners and policy-makers, and we maximize the involvement of stakeholders through the research process.

Every two years, CESSMIR organises some activities on a particular focus theme. In 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 our theme is ‘Language, migration and refugees’. Stay tuned on our website, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for more information on upcoming study days, trainings, lectures and other activities!

Mission and Vision

CESSMIR was established at Ghent University as an interdisciplinary centre focusing on the social impact of migration and fleeing.

Migration and fleeing may largely impact people's lives, the lives of the migrants themselves as well as the lives of the people in the societies in which the migrants temporarily or permanently reside, from which they leave or return to. As an interfacultary consortium, CESSMIR focuses on these 'social aspects' of migration. We understand 'migration' as any possible form of mobility, such as asylum, resettlement, transit migration, return migration, re-/expatriation, labour migration, family reunion, temporary migration,... .

Because migration processes and the social groups that form part of these processes involve many different aspects, they touch several diverse scientific disciplines, such as economics, sociology, pedagogy, psychology, history, linguistics, criminology, political science, law, (migration) policy, social work and medical sciences. Therefore, an interdisciplinary approaches are crucial to achieve a better understanding of these processes and to support the societal debate on these topics. Researchers from no less than seven different faculties at the University of Ghent are involved in CESSMIR.


CESSMIR is coordinated by prof. dr. Ilse Derluyn (director), dr. Floor Verhaeghe (coordinator), prof. dr. Sorana Toma (lecturer in migration and refugee studies) and prof. dr. Robin Vandevoordt (lecturer in migration and refugee studies). They are supported by a steering board with representatives from each of the involved departments and by many non-academic partners. 


CESSMIR develops activities in the areas of research, education and service to society. Moreover, the activities within these three pillars are linked to each other. Research, for example, is translated to education and in the service to society, and special efforts are made to bring research in and to practice. For example, education can have a specific focus on practitioners and other stakeholders (e.g., the organisation of a training course) or we can take practice-based experiences along in academic teaching (e.g. practic-oriented theses). 


More concretely, we organize these regular activities for the broader public:

  • Migration Research in Practice. Annual workshop in March in which CESSMIR researchers present their work in dialogue with practitioners.
  • Trainings for practitioners, volunteers and policy-makers. These trainings are thaught by speakers from different academic disciplines, and by practitioners (e.g. lawyers, pedagogues, social workers,…). The trainings ‘Children in a migration context’ and ‘Future-oriented work with/for migrants without legal residence documents’ are organised every two years, in an alternating way. 
  • CESSMIR Public Seminars: public lectures by internationally reputed researchers.


For researchers we also organize several specialist, interdisciplinary courses and activities:

  • Doctoral schools.  Specialized, interdisciplinary courses for PhD researchers.  For example, in april 2023 we organise   In 2021 we organize a doctoral school on 'Critical Reflections on Migration Studies, Racism and Discrimination' in collaboration with BIRMM (VUB), MIGLOBA (UA) and CEDEM (ULiège).
  • PhD Meetings. Regular meetings in which our PhD researchers discuss specific themes (e.g. positionality, working with translaters/interpreters, decolonizing migration studies,…).
  • CESSMIR Public Seminars. Public lectures by internationally reputed researchers.


For students:

  • Migration and Society. In this university-wide optional course, we offer an interdisciplinary introduction to migration studies, to all 3rd bachelor and master students at Ghent University. This course is thaught since 2021-2022 by a team of about 20 lecturers and coaches from different disciplines and is coordinated by prof. dr. Sorana Toma, prof. dr. Robin Vandevoordt and prof. dr. Ilse Derluyn.