Faculty and Researchers
Karen JacobsenLeir Chair in Global Migration, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
Research Director, Feinstein International Center
Karen Jacobsen directs Feinstein’s Refugees and Forced Migration Research Program. At Fletcher and Friedman, she teaches courses on forced migration and field research methods, and advises Ph.D. and master’s degree students.
Karen is a recognized expert in the field of forced migration, and she consults and writes widely on this topic. From 2013–2014 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.
Karen received her B.A. from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, her M.A. from Northeastern University, and her PhD in Political Science from MIT.
A South African by birth, Karen travels there frequently. She lives in Brookline with her son and dogs.
- Urban displacement
- Refugee and IDP rights and livelihoods
- Migration and refugee policy
- Sub-Saharan Africa
- Middle East
- Forced Migration (DHP D239), Spring Term
- Introduction to Research Methods (DHP D235), Spring Term
- Karen Jacobsen. 2005. The Economic Life of Refugees. Kumarian Press.
- Dyan Mazurana, Karen Jacobsen and Lacey Gale, eds. 2013. A View from Below: Conducting Research in Conflict Zones. Cambridge University Press.
- Karen Jacobsen. 2014. “Livelihoods and Forced Migration.” The Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. Oxford University Press.
- Karen Jacobsen and Loren B. Landau. 2003. “The Dual Imperative in Refugee Research: Some Methodological and Ethical Considerations in Social Science Research on Forced Migration.” Disasters 27(3).
- Karen Jacobsen. 2002. “Can refugees benefit the state? Refugee resources and African state building.” Journal of Modern African Studies 40 (4): 577-596.
This report outlines the types of livelihood efforts that aid agencies have undertaken in countries of first asylum and explores the challenges they face in realizing the full promise of these approaches. The authors offer recommendations to improve effectiveness.Read More
This book is a joint effort from JIPS and the Feinstein International Center that calls for an update to the existing international guidance for profiling.Read More
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
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…Read More
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…Read More
According to the Hyogo Framework for Action, disasters affect over 200 million people annually, causing significant loss of lives, forced migration, and disruption of livelihoods and institutions. The trend over…Read More
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…Read More
Refugee Livelihoods in Urban Areas: Identifying Program Opportunities Recommendations for programming and advocacy
In 2010-11 we partnered with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration to develop a profiling methodology for urban migrants and refugees. The purpose of the methodology…Read More
Examining Linkages between Disaster Risk Reduction and Livelihoods Literature Review
In the disaster context emphasis has been generally placed on the initial humanitarian and emergency response. However, recently there has been an increasing recognition of the importance and value of…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
Internal Displacement to Urban Areas: Colombia Case Case 3: Santa Marta, Colombia
For more than 40 years, Colombians have been subject to chronic violence perpetrated by left-wing guerillas, paramilitaries, government forces, and drug cartels. In the past 20 years, an estimated four…Read More
Internal Displacement to Urban Areas: Côte d’Ivoire Case Case 2: Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire
After a series of political crises, Côte d’Ivoire’s armed conflict erupted in 2002, leading to the division of the country into government and rebel-controlled areas. Both sides committed grave human…Read More
Internal Displacement to Urban Areas: Sudan Case Case 1: Khartoum, Sudan
Sudan’s North-South civil war and the conflict in Darfur generated one of the largest internally displaced populations in the world. A large proportion of these IDPs is found in and…Read More
Feinstein Research Projects
This project collects and commissions case studies of urban settings (towns, cities or sub-areas of cities) in which refugees or internally displaced people have been living for more than two years.Read More
Our research on and methodology for profiling will help aid agencies better understand the livelihood issues confronting displaced people and non-displaced locals in urban settings.Read More
For refugees in urban areas, there is little evidence about which humanitarian programs work, what livelihoods initiatives refugees undertake themselves, and where opportunities for programming interventions lie. Our research seeks to address this knowledge gap.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
Karen Jacobsen and Dan Maxwell recently shared their expertise on cash transfers and food aid with Tufts Now. The article begins: As the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis continues to…Read More
On February 16, 2017, Karen Jacobsen joined a panel of Tufts faculty with expertise in areas related to President Trump’s executive order on immigration. The panel, “The Changing Political Climate:…Read More
On January 30, 2017 Karen Jacobsen described what refugees go through to resettle in the U.S. in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner. She writes: How difficult is it to…Read More
Feinstein faculty are teaching a variety of courses on humanitarian issues during the upcoming Spring 2017 Semester. We encourage students to check them out: Karen Jacobsen: Forced Migration (DHP D239)…Read More
Karen Jacobsen and Dyan Mazurana anticipate outcomes for refugees if the U.S. decreases foreign aid funding
On December 9, 2016 Karen Jacobsen and Dyan Mazurana published an opinion piece in Tufts Now. They write: War, persecution and natural disasters are wreaking havoc on communities across the…Read More
In the past weeks, Tufts hosted two faculty panels to discuss what foreign policy may look like in the new U.S. administration. Faculty offered a wide range of expertise on subjects…Read More
Leading academics and influencers from across the world released an open letter through the Huffington Post asking world leaders to do more to ensure refugees an education. Among the 20 signatories is…Read More
On September 2, the independent digital media project Refugees Deeply posted an article titled “Six Vital Voices on the Economics of Migration” as part of their “Experts to Watch” series. Included…Read More
On August 31, JIPS hosted a launch event to share two new projects. Presented first was the second version of the Dynamic Analysis and Reporting Tool (DART). DART is an online easy-to-use system built…Read More
The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy’s Dean Mozaffarian announced the appointment of Daniel Maxwell, Professor of Nutrition, as the acting director of the Feinstein International Center. Over his…Read More
Karen Jacobsen worked with a range of government representatives, civil society stakeholders, and development and humanitarian partners at the Center for Mediterranean Integration‘s Peer-To-Peer Learning Workshop for Communities Hosting Refugees…Read More
Karen Jacobsen and Paula Armstrong share insights from recent report with the Cash Learning Partnership community
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:…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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:…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More