If you want innovation, if you want creativity, you want migrants, says Ellen Percy Kraly, the newly-appointed guest professor with the Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare (MIM) research centre.

Kraly, visiting from Colgate University, New York, is a demographer and a population scientist who specialises in international migration and refugee migration studies. At Malmö University, she is the current Guest Professorship in Memory of Willy Brandt.

She is presently concentrating her time in trying to promote the study of international migration among population scientists. Alongside this, she is involved in trying to engage migrants in generating information which helps provide and distribute resources which support their transition into communities and also benefits their communities of origin.

“I am trying to engage population scientists in the implementation of the global compact (a UN initiative to foster corporate commitment to implement universal sustainability principles and to support UN goals) for safe, orderly and regulated migration.

“We need to ask ourselves how we can make our work relevant to global governance concerning refugees and migrants.

“How do we identify those people over time, in places of origin as well as places of destination, and how do we make sure that scientific information can really be engaged by policy makers and, ideally, be filtered down into the lived experiences of migrants?

Engaging migrants, their energies, their creativity and their experiences in pathways to development is seen as critical.

“We are trying to extend the evidence base; more data — more disaggregated data — to identify migrants within administrative data censuses, surveys, and then analyse that data in ways which help the formation of programmes to support migrants, to allow them to access their human rights.

“Engaging migrants, their energies, their creativity and their experiences in pathways to development is seen as critical. We’ve got to be better at really listening to and partnering with the people that we are studying to make our work more relevant.

The world population is aging and there are different paces of shifting proportions of the population. As Kraly describes, this means the demand for labour through migration is going to increase. This will be of increasing relevance to national programmes for economic and social growth and sustainability.

“Plus,” she adds, “if you want innovation, if you want creativity, you want migrants. If society wants creativity and innovation then a good way of leveraging that is through migration and through active support for cultural diversity.”

Kraly will spend her time at Malmö holding guest lectures and continuing with her research projects and commitments.

“The benefits are being immersed in a community of migration scholars, that’s very, very special. To be here at MIM is a real resource for me, to be able to work with excellent graduate students and postdocs, it makes a very vibrant, intellectual and social personal experience. This is a great gift,” she adds.

Text: Adrian Grist