Global Shifts: Urbanization, Migration, and Demography

Whether through migration or culture, choice or necessity, the adaptation of populations to changing environmental, social, political, and security contexts has always been critical to human existence.

Today’s global reality calls for no less. Political unrest, protracted conflict, climate change, population ageing, and economic hardship are just some of the complex issues contributing to dramatic population shifts.

These issues demand sophisticated and coordinated global attention that acknowledges how “global shifts” can have tremendous consequences for social order, human rights, governance, and cultural practices, among others. At a moment when the world is seeing the greatest level of displacement since World War II, unprecedented rates and patterns of urbanization, and new demographic trends, better understanding these complex and intersecting global phenomena is critical to identifying more salient policy responses.

This research theme identifies and advances evidence-based policies that - to borrow from the late Executive Director of the U.N. Population Fund, Babatunde Osotimehin - promote “people-centered, sensitive, humane, dignified, gender-responsive, and prompt” attention to people experiencing these global shifts.

Workshop: Memory, Movement, Materiality - Journeys of Forced and Undocumented Migration

On February 21, 2020, this workshop was hosted in partnership with the Penn Cultural Heritage Center of the Penn Museum. It explored issues around migration journeys, and how they are documented by material culture, archaeology, museums, and more. 

Workshop: Immigration - Research Frontiers and Policy Challenges

This two-day workshop from October 4 to 5, 2019, was convened by Nicholas Sambanis of the Penn Identity and Conflict Lab. It explored key challenges facing migrants worldwide - from anti-immigrant bias, to issues with integration - and the implications for policymakers. 

Workshop: Global Family Change

This two-day workshop from September 16 to 17, 2019, convened by Hans-Peter Kohler and Frank Furstenberg of the University of Pennsylvania with support from Perry World House, brought participants together to look at the role of families in global, economic, and demographic shifts. Topics explored included the intersections between gender, technology, and family; and how policy and legal changes can affect families. 

Workshop: Cities, Geopolitics and the International Legal Order

On September 6, 2019, this workshop launched the Great Powers and Urbanization Project (GPUP) a joint initiative of Perry World House, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the University of Melbourne's Connected Cities Lab, and the Argentine Council for International Relations. GPUP will look at the evolving role of cities on the world stage.

Sanctuary Cities Explained

This report explains the controversial national debate around sanctuary cities. In an age of contested border policies, rising nationalism, and a global pandemic, sanctuary cities - cities that limit their cooperation with federal authorities to protect some immigrants from deportation - are a major issue in the United States. It looks at how exactly we define a sanctuary city; the common policies and practices do they share; and where the debate surrounding them stands now. 

Vicious Cycles Workshop Report

Made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, this workshop explored the issue of refugee return and the repeated displacement of people, at a time when there are more than 25 million refugees throughout the world. The Vicious Cycles Workshop Report synthesizes the conversations that took place over the workshop. It expands on the issues and insights highlighted in these discussions, and identifies new priorities for research in this area. 

Vicious Cycles Workshop Thought Pieces

In these thought pieces, experts from around the world examine crucial difficulties facing refugees. They look at how research can be reoriented and improved to support better policy outcomes for vulnerable people. 

Spring 2019 Global Shifts Colloquium Report

This report synthesizes the conversations that took place over the two days of our 2019 Global Shifts Colloquium: A Changing Climate, A Changing World. It expands on the issues and insights highlighted in these discussions, and raises open questions for researchers and policymakers to pursue in order to meet the complex challenges and policy demands of climate change. 

Spring 2019 Global Shifts Colloquium Thought Pieces

Experts from across the world have written thought pieces for our 2019 Global Shifts Colloquium, based on the ideas they exchanged at this two-day event. They examine how climate change is affecting how people migrate; how cities can adapt to an altered environment; and how cities and communities are leading action on climate change and sustainable development. 

Borders and Boundaries Project

Do international political borders matter in the modern world, and, if so, in what ways? The Borders and Boundaries Project at Perry World House is researching how political life both affects and is affected by international borders and border security policies. This interdisciplinary, multi-method effort is directed by Professor Beth Simmons and is composed of research teams studying border politics across a variety of different research areas. 

Learn more about the Borders and Boundaries Project here. 

Great Powers and Urbanization Project

Over the course of the early twenty-first century, cities have increasingly moved into the international arena, taking on a growing role in global issues. Great power politics and urbanization are not separate phenomena. Peace, power, and prosperity in the twenty-first century will require urban expertise, as will solving global problems around climate change, migration, and equitable development.  The Great Powers and Urbanization Project, or GPUP, is a collaboration of global leaders in international and urban affairs: the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House, the University of Melbourne’s Connected Cities Lab, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and the Argentine Council for International Relations (Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales).

Learn more about GPUP here.