Over 12 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes due to the Syrian civil war and 4.5 million are refugees seeking asylum in other countries (Pew Research Center). The unprecedented number of these refugees who are being resettled throughout the United States, Europe, and Canada are facing integration into new societies in a great variety of settings and contexts.
Political Science Professor Narayani Lasala-Blanco is leading a group of researchers who are seeking to understand how different policies and local contexts affect the integration process. She is particularly interested in development of attitudes and beliefs that lead to harmonic political and economic integration among first generation immigrants.
The research team includes:
- Narayani Lasala-Blanco (Principal Investigator, UCSB, Political Science)
- Elizabeth Belding (Co-Investigator, UCSB, Computer Science)
- Shahana Chattaraj (Co-Investigator, University of Sheffield, Geography)
- Laura Morales (Co-Investigator, University of Leicester, Political Science)
- Heather Stoll (Co-Investigator, UCSB, Political Science)
- Shannon Schumacher (Graduate Student Researcher and Field Supervisor, UCSB, Political Science)
- Sarah Al-Noure (Syrian Interviewer and Field Supervisor, UCSB, Religious Studies)
- Sleman Shwaish (Field Supervisor and Interviewer, Red Cross UK)
- Over 60 students of both native and immigrant backgrounds from various universities throughout the US, the UK, Italy, and Germany (helped with data gathering, interviews, coding, and more)
The study combines Lasala-Blanco’s experience conducting scientific survey research among hard-to-reach populations with cellular technology developed by the Computer Science Department at UCSB. Cellular technology allows researchers to stay in contact with Syrian refugees who are on the move.
The researchers have recruited 139 randomly selected Syrian families residing around the United Kingdom and Germany to participate. A multi-wave panel survey will take multiple measurements of their political and social attitudes. The researchers also interviewed almost 1,000 native residents of the cities and neighborhoods in which the refugees are being resettled. The groundbreaking research will provide policymakers and scholars a better understanding of the conditions that shape immigrants attitudes, knowledge, and practices as they settle into their host country.
The team recently received a National Science Foundation Rapid Response Research Grant (RAPID) of $125,000 for the project. RAPID grants are given to projects that have a great sense of urgency and respond to an immediate need. The new grant will allow Lasala-Blanco and her team to expand their research to other Western European Countries. Syrian refugees are unfortunately not alone. Currently 1 in 100 people worldwide are displaced from their homes, which makes this study relevant globally.