Students Organize Expert Panel on EU Refugee Crisis

Refugees on the way to Germany gather en masse at the Keleti Railway Station in Budapest, Hungary in September 2015. iStock

The influx of migrants and refugees streaming into Europe from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa has created one of the biggest strains on Europe since the migration wave that occurred during and after World War II. While international agencies, local residents and NGOs work to develop immediate responses to the increased volume of migration to Europe, EU leaders are struggling to generate a long-term plan for collective action.

To spark dialogue about the situation, NYU Abu Dhabi Political Science student Toma Pavlov (Class of 2017) organized a panel discussion with prominent scholars from the fields of migration, sociology and political science. More than 150 people attended to hear about this pressing global issue and evaluate recent events, consider old precedents and explore new answers to what has been called one of the most pressing migration crises in European history.

"My main motivation was to create a space for discussion," said Pavlov, who adds it's important that students have an informed opinion or at least some knowledge beyond the news headlines. "Academics from different universities bring fresh perspectives and encourage students to think critically about the topic and how we can shape the future.”

People gather at NYU Abu Dhabi to hear an expert panel talk about migration challenges facing the European Union.

Leading the panel discussion was Alejandro Portes, a visiting professor from Princeton University and sociologist who has been studying migration and urbanization for 30 years. He was joined by Ronald Rogowski, visiting professor of Political Science who is at NYUAD to teach courses on political institutions and international trade, NYUAD Faculty Fellow of Social Science Michael Harsch, and Assistant Professor of Social Science and Humanities Marc Michael. The panel guest of honor was His Excellency Dr. Eckhard Lübkemeier, Ambassador of Germany to the UAE.

This has to be a shared's not just Europe's problem.

Ronald Rogowski, NYUAD Visiting Professor of Political Science

In response to Germany having the highest asylum claims in the EU, Dr. Lübkemeier, said, “While our hearts are wide open and our compassion is infinite, our capacity to cope is finite”.

All panelists stressed the importance of differentiating between refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants when discussing the crisis.

After almost two hours, Professor Rogowski closed the discussion by saying, "This has to be a shared's not just Europe's problem."