Karen Jacobsen

Karen JacobsenActing Director,the Feinstein International Center and Associate Professor of Research at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University

Karen Jacobsen PhD is Acting Director at the Feinstein International Center where she also leads the Refugees and Forced Migration Program.

Karen Jacobsen is Associate Professor of Research at The Fletcher School and the Acting Director of the Feinstein International Center (Friedman School of Nutrition) where she also directs the Refugees and Forced Migration Program. She has taught and conducted research in the field of forced migration for twenty years, and consults and writes widely on this topic. She is particularly interested in the livelihoods of refugees and other displaced people and the ways in which they regain their dignity and financial independence, and her book addresses this issue. From 2013-14 she headed the Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS) in Geneva, on leave of absence from Tufts. From 2000-2005, she directed the Alchemy Project, which explored the use of microfinance as a way to support people in refugee camps and other displacement settings. Her current research focuses on urban displacement and information gathering in conflict-affected settings. She is South African by birth and travels there frequently. She received her B.A. from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and her PhD in Political Science from MIT. She lives in Brookline with her son and dogs.

FIC Publications

Cash Transfer Programming for Syrian Refugees Lessons Learned on Vulnerability, Targeting, and Protection from the Danish Refugee Council's E-Voucher Intervention in Southern Turkey
Cash Transfer Programming for Syrian Refugees
By Paula Armstrong, Karen Jacobsen | February 2016

This report provides lessons for the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), other humanitarian organizations, and funders striving to optimize cash transfer programs (CTP) in humanitarian contexts. Through an examination of the…

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Guidance For Profiling Urban Displacement Situations: Challenges And Solutions
By Karen Jacobsen, Ivan Cardona, JIPS | June 2014

Over the past two years, the Feinstein International Center has supported the Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS) to develop a Guidance for Profiling Urban Displacement Situations. The Guidance highlights the…

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Ransom, Collaborators, Corruption Sinai Trafficking and Transnational Networks

Each month thousands of men, women, and children flee Eritrea as a result of grave violations of human rights committed by the Eritrean government. Traveling via Sudan and Egypt, 36,000…

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Developing a Profiling Methodology for Displaced People in Urban Areas Final Report

Increasing numbers of the world’s rural population are moving to urban areas, and refugees, internally displaced people and humanitarian populations are amongst the recently urbanized. UNHCR estimates that almost half…

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African Migration to Israel Debt, Employment and Remittances

This report details the migration experience and livelihood choices of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers and migrants in Tel Aviv. The research is based on a scoping study conducted by…

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Increasing the Financial Resilience of Disaster-affected Populations

Increasing the Financial Resilience of Disaster-affected Populations is a desk review paper commissioned and supported by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, USAID. One of the most significant problems facing…

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Livelihoods, Migration and Conflict Discussion of Findings from Two Studies in West and North Darfur, 2006 - 2007

This briefing paper discusses findings from a study conducted in Darfur from 2006-8 that explored the changing role of migration and remittances in the livelihoods of conflict-affected people. We conducted…

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Internal Displacement to Urban Areas: the Tufts-IDMC Profiling Study Case 3: Santa Marta, Colombia
By Karen Jacobsen, Kimberly Howe | September 2008

The report was done in collaboration with the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Geneva. For more than 40 years, Colombians have been subject to chronic violence perpetrated by left-wing guerillas, paramilitaries,…

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Internal Displacement to Urban Areas: the Tufts-IDMC Profiling Study Case 2: Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire
By Karen Jacobsen | September 2008

This report was done in collaboration with Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Geneva. After a series of political crises, Côte d’Ivoire’s armed conflict erupted in 2002, leading to the division of…

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Internal Displacement to Urban Areas: the Tufts-IDMC Profiling Study Case 1: Khartoum, Sudan
By Karen Jacobsen | September 2008

This report was done in collaboration with the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Geneva. In recent decades Sudan’s North-South civil war and the conflict in Darfur have generated one of the…

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The Alchemy Project: Final Report, 2001-2004
By Karen Jacobsen | November 2004

The Alchemy Project began in 2001 as a pilot program to explore whether income generating interventions do support the livelihoods of forcibly displaced people. Our long-term goals were to work…

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Remittances to Conflict Zones, Phase 2: Sudanese Refugees in Cairo
By Karen Jacobsen, Helen Young | September 2013

Refugees and migrants in transit countries like Egypt are linked into wider diaspora networks that help support them, and in turn enable the migrants to support their families and communities back home.

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Advancing Financial Resilience
By Karen Jacobsen, Kim Wilson | September 2013

The Financial Resilience program seeks to promote understanding of financial resilience – the ability of a household or community to prevent, sustain, or recover from financial shocks – in marginalized populations in high-risk/high-stress environments.

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Developing a Conflict-Sensitive Microfinance Model for Darfur
By Karen Jacobsen | September 2013

Tufts/FIC commissioned a microfinance assessment undertaken as part of the joint UNDP-IOM-Tufts project earlier this year. That document, “Championing the Coping Economy: An Assessment of the Microfinance Market in Darfur: Gaps and Opportunities,” reviews the financial sector of Sudan and Darfur, and assesses the potential for microfinance as a tool for economic recovery in Darfur.

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Livelihood Programming for Disaster Risk Reduction Kenya, Nepal, and Haiti

This FIC study is designed to improve our knowledge of livelihoods in the context of a disaster (before, after, and during), evaluate the impact of specific interventions intended to reduce risks, help articulate livelihoods approaches to DRR programming, and aid policy makers, donors and agencies in designing and implementing better and more effective DRR programming.

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News Items

Karen Jacobsen and Paula Armstrong share insights from recent report with the Cash Learning Partnership community
April 5, 2016

Karen Jacobsen and Paula Armstrong discuss three main lessons from their report, “Cash Transfer Programming for Syrian Refugees” on the Cash Learning Partnership website. The three lessons they review are:…

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Karen Jacobsen discusses refugees in urban settings at the Friedman Seminar
March 23, 2016

The humanitarian community uses approaches and tools to support refugees that were designed to be delivered in camp and rural settings. However, today more than half of the world’s refugees…

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Karen Jacobsen presents at the Myron Weiner Series on International Migration
March 15, 2016

Feinstein’s Acting Director Karen Jacobsen  held a guest lecture for students and the public at MIT on Tuesday, March 15. Her presentation was titled “Understanding the Impact of War and…

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Karen Jacobsen chaired a Migration Policy Forum panel on March 4th
March 2, 2016

The Migration Policy Forum Presents: Perilous Journeys: Human and Policy Challenges of Transit Migration through Mexico Friday, March 4th from 12:30 to 2:30 at the Fletcher School (Cabot 206) Chairs:…

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Feinstein International Center faculty course offerings – Spring 2016
January 20, 2016

The spring semester has begun at The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and Feinstein International Center Faculty…

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Karen Jacobsen comments on the refugee crisis in international media
November 19, 2015

In light of recent events in Paris and the international response to the refugee crisis, FIC’s Acting Director Karen Jacobsen has commented on the experiences, needs, and challenges of refugees…

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NPR interviews Karen Jacobsen on migrant crises
September 10, 2015

On September 10, 2015, Karen Jacobsen spoke to the NPR program Here and Now about the perils of migration out of Africa. Jacobsen discussed the experiences of migrants and refugees from the…

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Karen Jacobsen discusses refugee crisis on CCTV
August 17, 2015

Karen Jacobsen, the Acting Director of the Feinstein International Center, was featured on CCTV to discuss the plight of refugees and the refugee crisis in Europe. You can watch the…

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Faculty host workshop on ethics and practicalities of field work
May 14, 2015

On May 12, 2015, Professors Karen Jacobsen (Acting Director, Feinstein International Center), Dyan Mazurana (Research Director on Gender, Youth and Community), and Kim Wilson (Visiting Fellow) co-hosted a day-long workshop…

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FIC faculty and researchers participate in ‘Lean Research’ initiative
April 16, 2015

On April 15, 2015, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, MIT D-Lab, and Feinstein International Center co-hosted Lean Lab, a day-long convening to reflect on the Lean Research initiative…

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Fletcher-ICRC Joint Lab Holds Workshop on Sahel
March 12, 2015

The Fletcher School and the International Committee of the Red Cross held a one-day workshop on March 12, 2015 as part of their planned three-year ‘Joint Laboratory’. The first year…

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