Karen Jacobsen

Karen JacobsenAssociate Professor and Academic Director; Research Director for Refugees and Forced Migration Program

Karen Jacobsen, Ph.D. is Associate Professor and Academic Director at Feinstein International Center, Tufts University, and teaches at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy (Tufts).

Karen is also the director of the Refugees and Forced Migration Program at the Feinstein Center. Jacobsen’s current research focuses on urban refugees and IDPs, and on livelihood interventions in conflict-affected areas. She works with the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center and UNHCR on surveys of urban IDPs. Her most recent book, The Economic Life of Refugees was published in 2005. She directed the Alchemy Project from 2001-2005, which provided grants and conducted research and impact evaluations on micro-enterprise initiatives in displaced communities in Africa. She teaches courses on Field Research Methods and on Forced Migration. Her earlier research investigated security and protection issues in refugee camps, a study for UNHCR on self-settled refugees and local integration; research on security problems in refugee camps, on the environmental impact of refugees in asylum countries, and on the policy responses of host governments in Africa and Southeast Asia to refugees. She holds a B.A. from University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

FIC Publications

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…

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
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…

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

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: 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,…

Read More
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…

Read More
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…

Read More
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…

Read More


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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More