migration and diversity

Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre Governance of Migration and Diversity

Website: Centre Governance of Migration and Diversity

The Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Research Centre Governance of Migration and Diversity (GMD) is a research centre of scholars that share a focus on the governance of migration and diversity through the following activities:

  • Research: Develop joint research initiatives and share knowledge on funding schemes in areas where there are clear complementarities in migration and diversity research.
  • Education: Strengthen collaboration in teaching activities related to migration and diversity, such as the LDE Master specialisation Governance of Migration and Diversity.
  • Societal Impact: Combine research with interventions and increasingly collaborate with societal stakeholders operating in the field of migration and diversity.


While migration refers to all forms of international mobility (asylum migration, return migration, family migration, labour migration), diversity refers to migration related intersections between class, gender, ethnicity and religion. With the focus on governance the LDE Centre GMD not only provides a platform to create a better understanding of migration and diversity, but also of how actors, both government and non-governmental, respond to and deal with issues that are related to migration and diversity. 

The LDE Centre GMD combines the strengths of eight different departments at the three universities of Leiden-Delft-Erasmus:

  1. Leiden University Institute for History  - Leiden University
  2. Leiden Law School - Leiden University
  3. Governance and Global Affairs - Leiden University
  4. Architecture and the Built Environment - Delft University of Technology
  5. Technology, Policy and Management - Delft University of Technology
  6. Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences - Erasmus University Rotterdam
  7. International Institute of Social Studies - Erasmus University Rotterdam
  8. Erasmus School of Law - Erasmus University Rotterdam

Together, and based on the substantial and critical mass of researchers involved, the LDE Centre GMD is one of the biggest research communities and therefore a world-class research centre with a governance perspective on migration and migration-related diversity. With its multi- and interdisciplinary knowledge infrastructure, the mission of the LDE Centre GMD is to generate robust knowledge for and have impact on the governance of migration and diversity at various levels to achieve resilient and inclusive societies. Read more about the LDE Centre GMD.


demonstratieThe LDE Centre GMD is a research platform that connects scholars from the tree universities in Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam. We combine research from TU Delft Faculty of Architecture and Built Environment, the Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminars (LIMS), the Leiden initiative on Migration and Citizenship, PRIMUS and the Erasmus Migration and Diversity Institute (EMDI).

We will organize working conferences that provide the opportunity to invite additional research groups from Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam to participate. Furthermore, the LDE Centre GMD will invite visiting scholars with a prominent position in the field of migration research which will not only contribute to the international position of the LDE Centre GMD, but also acquire expertise and inspiration for the LDE-GMD community.

A core activity of the LDE Centre will be coordinating joint action of the three universities in relation to the rapid developments in EU and other funding schemes on migration and diversity. This means for instance coordinating joint efforts in direction of future EU Framework Programs (Horizon Europe), ERA and in relation to the Dutch Science Foundation. The research network of IMISCOE and its Migration Research Hub serves as a platform for this lobby. A strong voice from the three universities combined will make a real difference.

The LDE Centre GMD will develop joint research initiatives under the two research pillars of Migration and Diversity with a focus on Governance. The topics bring existing knowledge and expertise from the three universities together which fosters synergies and complementarity and enhances the potential for research funding and societal impact.

bootMore general, the field of migration studies has expanded in an important manner over the past decades, and migration and diversity are playing a key role in fields such as History, Law, Sociology, Public Administration, Governance studies, Development Studies and Urban Studies. Migration and diversity trigger a broad range of questions about fundamental rights, state obligations and the effects of dealing with diversity on participation, citizenship and integration. Migration and diversity invoke policy reactions at intersecting levels of governance: global, European, national, and local. Research on migration and diversity requires a focus on the multi-level governance context, by not only involving governments but also NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations), IGOs (intergovernmental Organisations) and citizen-led organisations of migrants and non-migrants. 


Migration is to be understood broadly, including different forms of mobility ranging from forced migration (refugees), to labour, family and student migration. Migration related research focuses on the following topics:

  • Governance: This research focuses on the governance of migration from a multi-level perspective (global, European, national, local). It seeks to contribute to a better understanding of how and why governance strategies at various levels and in different types of organisations respond to mobility and how they interact in multi-level settings.
  • Protection: This topic looks at the protection needs of refugees and migrants, what kind of protection is offered, where and by whom. Despite the safeguards of the international refugee regime and fundamental rights instruments, access to protection is difficult. If legal pathways for migration are absent, mobility becomes a risk for refugees and other migrants. NGOs have been active in the field of protection for decades, alongside IGOs such as the EU, UNHCR and IOM. Protection is found in countries of origin or in neighbouring countries, increasingly in cities. Western countries continue to externalise their policies in cooperation with countries of origin and transit. New protection needs require innovative solutions, cooperation at different levels of government and between the public and private sector.
  • Legacies: Repeatedly politicians, policy makers and journalists claim that current migration (including refugee migration) cannot be compared to those of the past. Also NGOs tend to stress the uniqueness of current migrations. Historical research has proven that there are many more similarities than assumed. Furthermore, policies are strongly characterized by path dependencies: new policies always build on and derive ideas from previous policies.
  • Security: The recent refugee crisis and the threat of terrorist violence have reinforced this linkage of migration and security. Securitisation, risk and crimmigation are different conceptual tools that have been developed to better understand different aspects of that phenomenon. The term crimmigration was introduced into academic debates to describe the blurring between criminal law and immigration law as a result of the criminalization of (aspects of) migration, and the use of immigration law to deal with crime and public safety issues.


teamThe focus on diversity is on the intersection between categories of power and identity such as gender, class, religion, ethnicity, legal status, citizenship and many others.

Diversity related research focuses on the following topics:

  • Governance: Societies have always been diverse. The question is how societies deal (and dealt) with difference. Which differences make a difference, to whom, when and why? Policy makers and claim makers (such as NGOs) find it difficult to design or advocate for policies that take the intersection between multiple diversities into account.
  • Cities: In societal and academic debates, the transformation of European cities is connected to both migration and growing social inequality - see the EU Urban Agenda but also the ‘gilets jaunes’. This includes a focus on socioeconomic and ethnic segregation.
  • Citizenship: Governments seek to create social cohesion notwithstanding increasing diversity. This challenges the meaning and implications of citizenship as a legal category and of citizenship as the basis for (equal) participation, identity and belonging. This leads to questions about equal and special rights, and how this enables societies to deal with diversity.
  • Welfare states: The concept ‘welfare chauvinism’ was introduced in academic literature to describe calls for the restriction of immigration or immigrant rights. It has since been used in a broad sense and a variety of meanings, mostly to describe the claim – especially in highly developed welfare states - that the native population should get preferential rights over foreigners when it comes to social security arrangements. The claim is based on a cost-benefit argument: the welfare state can only be maintained if some people are excluded. This clashes with fundamental ideas about equality which formed the basis of the welfare state.


The LDE Centre GMD builds on the existing LDE Master specialisation Governance of Migration and Diversity. The LDE Master specialisation GMD offers four different tracks (Public Administration, Sociology, History and Development Studies) with courses at five different faculties (History at Leiden University, Architecture and the Built Environment at Delft University of Technology and Sociology, Public Administration and the International Institute of Social Studies at Erasmus University Rotterdam).

After the completion of this specialisation, students will be able to identify and analyse social issues related to migration and diversity. Furthermore, students can provide advice on these problems. During this master programme students will:

  • Develop a multidisciplinary understanding of migration and diversity from various perspectives, including history, development studies, sociology, public administration and urbanism;
  • Acquire a methodological understanding in order to study migration and diversity;
  • Learn to better understand the governance implications of migration and diversity at the local (urban), regional, national as well as European and international level;
  • Obtain professional skills in terms of designing strategies for the management of migration and diversity at the policy level.  

Graduates of this specialisation are suitable candidates for positions in governmental organisations (policymakers, policy advisors, lobbyists) and organisations in civil society (e.g. unions, political parties, research institutes) on the local, national or international level. 

The LDE Master specialisation GMD and the cooperation between scholars from all three universities and across disciplines also feeds into research collaborations within the LDE Centre GMD. Hence, the research centre will support exchanges amongst teaching staff from the three universities, aimed at gaining efficient use of teaching expertise, and contribute to training the future generation of professionals that will work in the context of today’s highly diverse societies.


The LDE Centre GMD will combine ‘rigour’ with ‘relevance.’ Rather than seeing ‘impact’ as a separate activity, the research centre seeks to develop impact as an integral aspect of the activities in the spheres of research and education. This will be done within the context of the lively societal debate on migration and diversity, as well as in the context of the great demand for robust scientific knowledge that can be contextualised in a range of localities and governance settings.

Migration and migration-related diversity are at the heart of societal and political debates since migration is a contested concept. The importance of migration and diversity will probably increase in the future.

Also, the cities of Delft, Leiden and Rotterdam all have increasingly mobile and diverse populations. For instance, in Delft and Rotterdam more than half of the population has a migration background. Research and education that is related to migration and diversity is not only academically relevant but also has the potential to contribute to active social and public issues which demands research that has societal relevance.

The network on which the LDE Centre is built, will combine research with interventions, to generate applied knowledge that can be used by various organizations in practice, while simultaneously being valuable for further academic research. This co-design of interventions and innovative approaches will involve a structural engagement with stakeholders operating in the field of migration and diversity. This includes NGOs working on issues as integration, inclusion, and anti-discrimination, as well as organizations for or by migrants and by local residents.


All three universities are strong in migration research but in this joint LDE Centre we are even stronger. Leiden University has strong expertise in Migration History, in Law and in Governance, Delft University of Technology in Urban Studies and Urban Design, and Erasmus University Rotterdam in Sociology, Public Administration and Human Rights, while the International Institute for Social Studies in The Hague (part of Erasmus University) contributes with key expertise on migration and development. Together, the LDE Centre Governance of Migration and Diversity (GMD) is one of the biggest research communities and world’s leading places for the study of migration and migration-related diversity, especially from a governance perspective.

The LDE Center GMD is an open and flexible network of scholars that are closely linked on their fields of expertise. It is composed by a research team of scholars from all three universities, without fixed ‘borders’ but transcend disciplinary, institutional and imaginative borders.


Steering Group


Executive Office

Dr. Mark van Ostaijen – senior executive manager
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Room T17-37
Burg. Oudlaan 50
3062 PA Rotterdam

Lhamo Meyer – junior executive manager
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Room T17-54
Burg. Oudlaan 50
3062 PA Rotterdam

Website: Centre Governance of Migration and Diversity