Boston University’s Initiative on Forced Displacement: Research, pedagogy, and global engagement

Over 70 million people are forcibly displaced by wars and persecution, more than ever previously recorded. Most of these displaced individuals come from low income countries and are forced to flee to neighboring countries that are ill-equipped to provide for them, leading to massive challenges for displaced and host communities alike. The ongoing crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that our health and wellbeing is connected to that of people around the world, but displaced communities and populations on the move remain the most vulnerable. Universities have been called to respond to this complex, global challenge, and the Initiative on Forced Displacement (IFD) is Boston University’s response to this call.

The conversation engages both founding faculty of the Initiative on Forced Displacement (IFD), Muhammad Zaman (ENG, Biomedical Engineering) and Carrie Preston (CAS, English and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies). They discuss their efforts to establish an integrated, interdisciplinary initiative to address the suffering caused by forced displacement. Their work aligns with the core mission of Boston University: Pathbreaking-research, teaching for a better future, and engagement with global challenges.

Professors Zaman and Preston have developed research and education programs focusing on refugee health at Boston University. They co-founded the university-wide Initiative on Forced Displacement (IFD) in collaboration with academic, public and private sector partners in Lebanon, Uganda, and Colombia.