Proposal submission deadline extended to May 7th! Call for Papers: Submit Your Proposal for Switchboard’s 2023 Research Symposium

Proposal submission deadline extended to May 7th

Switchboard is pleased to announce an exciting opportunity for people contributing to research in resettlement, whether they work in service provision, academia, public policy, or other contexts.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in response to the fall of Kabul in July 2021, the United States government evacuated more than 76,000 nationals from Afghanistan. Evacuees were brought to the U.S. through Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) and offered protection and assistance delivered primarily through the U.S. refugee resettlement system.This emergency response represented a profound disruption to a sector that was adjusted to a relatively prolonged period of low arrival numbers.

The urgency of OAW, complicated by the ongoing public health crisis, compelled a wide range of creative strategies, workarounds, compromises, and innovations at the levels of both policy and practice, highlighting the critical role played by faith-based and other community-led organizations. Whereas the effects of these measures have yet to be fully considered, they are arguably producing an enduring impact on how refugee resettlement and protection is imagined and implemented in the United States.
Re-Imagining Refugee Services in the United States

This inaugural Switchboard Research Symposium, in partnership with Arizona State University and funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), will consider the significance of OAW for refugee resettlement practice in the U.S. We invite proposals for papers and presentations from academics, policy makers, practitioners, social innovators, and community representatives that consider any of the following themes:

  • New Approaches, New Service Models?
  • Reconsidering the Scalability of Resettlement
  • The Future of the Public-Private Model of Resettlement
  • New (and Old) Pathways to Protection

New Approaches, New Service Models?
OAW had a significant impact on resettlement practice at the local level. In many instances, service providers funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) were compelled to adjust established protocols and standards of practice to meet the moment, with limited opportunity for planning. Papers offered under this theme will ask what was gained and lost in terms of quality-of-service delivery. In critical areas of social service support–such as housing, case management, employment, physical health, mental health, psychosocial services, integration, and immigration–how has OAW reshaped refugee resettlement practice at the local level? What are the implications for delivery of ORR-funded programs and services going forward?

Under this theme, we are particularly interested in thoughtful reflections from practitioners who were involved most directly on how the refugee resettlement sector could be better prepared at the local level to face a similar challenge in the future.
Reconsidering the Scalability of Resettlement
Resettlement has long been regarded as a strategically important but numerically insignificant response to the global refugee crisis.

Historically, less than one percent of refugees have found a solution through resettlement. OAW highlighted both the possibilities and challenges associated with a broader effort to expand resettlement to achieve scale. Papers that address this theme are invited to explore the many lessons learned in the wake of a rapid and large-scale refugee resettlement to the U.S., which was unprecedented in recent decades. Possible areas of focus may include institutional resilience and adaptability to support refugees, as well as the social, political, and financial sustainability of resettlement at scale.

The Future of the Public-Private Model of Resettlement
Refugee resettlement in the U.S. was established around the idea of a public-private partnership, configured largely around a relationship between government and officially designated resettlement agencies. The Afghan evacuation arguably shifted the balance of this partnership in ways that promise to have lasting effects for newcomers, communities, and service providers. Vast public interest in the Afghan evacuation energized U.S. civil society, enabling new actors to enter the resettlement space and defining new creative roles and possibilities for support. Papers that focus on these changing dynamics of the public-private partnership may include expansion and innovation in private sponsorship, new opportunities for complementary pathways, innovative private-sector funding for resettlement, and new challenges to ensure accountability in resettlement.

New (and Old) Pathways to Protection
The ongoing imperative to ensure that Afghans who were evacuated to the United States have access to protection has important implications for the broader U.S. response to the global refugee crisis. Beyond OAW, the specter of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profoundly constraining effect on refugee access to protection, particularly at the U.S. Southern Border. In the aftermath of the Afghan evacuation, new policy experiments and technologies are being deployed that are arguably reshaping notions of asylum in ways that appear more like selective evacuation or resettlement. Papers under this theme will interrogate the implications of OAW for refugee access to protection in the U.S. in general, highlighting new instabilities and tensions around an established conceptual distinction between “asylum” and “resettlement” as separate pathways to protection.

Proposal Submission
Paper and presentation proposals should comprise a title and abstract (300 words maximum) and engage directly with one or more of the themes outlined above. The circulation of papers and presentation slides in advance of the conference will be optional.
We welcome submissions from researchers, policy makers, practitioners throughout the network of ORR-funded service providers, and community representatives. While we will consider more reflective policy or theoretically positioned papers, we are particularly interested in papers that are supported by data and evidence and have clearly defined implications for practice. The criteria for selecting papers and presentations will include originality, quality of research, and fit with the symposium themes.

The symposium will take place in person from August 22-24, 2023, Arizona State University in Phoenix, AZ. Use the Learn More button to submit your proposal by April 30, 2023. Presenters will be informed of their acceptance by May 20, 2023.

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May 07 - 08 2023


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