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The core aim of IMIn is to develop long-term perspectives on migration and human mobility as an intrinsic part of global change instead of a ‘problem to be solved’. This idea inspired the establishment and consolidation of the International Migration Institute (IMI) at the University of Oxford from 2006 to 2017.

IMI was originally founded at the University of Oxford in 2006 with an initial grant from the Oxford Martin School, which allowed it to develop a new agenda for migration research. Under the successive directorships of Stephen Castles, Steven Vertovec, Robin Cohen, Hein de Haas, Oliver Bakewell and Mathias Czaika, IMI secured funding for a wide range of innovative research projects, allowing IMI to flourish and to build its working paper series.  In 2017, the decision was taken to transform IMI into an international research network (IMIn) to allow collaboration and interaction to flourish more freely across the many countries and institutions in which former and current IMI collaborators are now based.


In order to develop a new vision on migration, IMIn fosters collaboration between researchers who are committed to develop new thinking about migration and mobility across the world. IMIn activities revolve around the following four core aims: 

1. To develop a long-term looking perspective on migration and human mobility as an intrinsic part of global change instead of a ‘problem to be solved’.

Our ethos is one of challenging the idea that migration represents a problem to be solved. Instead, our starting position is that migration is a fundamental human process that is a constituent part of social transformation and development in societies. Human mobility is likely to bring solutions to some challenges and also create new challenges – and often both may arise from the same migration processes.

2. To explore new ways of understanding and researching migration processes, seeking to challenge conventional theory and look for innovative approaches.

IMIn aims to challenge and refine existing theories, perceptions and debates on migration by increasing diversity of migration research and drawing on migration experiences from around the world.

3. To build capacity by actively stimulating the participation of students and researchers from around the world, particularly from Africa, Asia and Latin America in research, publications and public debates.

IMIn is a hub in network of students and researchers from around the world, and seeks to increase their active participation and influence on the migration debates and migration research agendas. This includes the dissemination of research (primarily through the IMIn working paper series) and stimulating knowledge exchange and training.

4. To create new public narratives on migration that challenge polarized political debates between ‘pro-’ and ‘anti-’ migration voices.

While we start from the view that migration is an intrinsic part of global change, migration brings fundamental challenges to societies around the world and generates intense policy dilemmas. However, across many parts of the world, debates about migration are framed by simplistic narratives that obscure these dilemmas. IMIn is committed to generate counter-narratives that illuminate the complex social, political, economic and moral choices faced by societies as they respond to migration and migrants. Our audience includes policy makers and migration scholars but also the general public in societies around the world with the aim to change public perceptions and understandings of migration.

Thinking Migration: celebrating imi's legacy

Thinking MigrationThis report features highlights from IMI's ten years developing a long-term and forward-looking perspective on international migration as part of global change.

This 56-page report captures the story of the institute's founding in 2006, tracing its development into a leading global authority on international migration.

Contributions from former IMI staff, and from research collaborators from the Global North and South, celebrate the achievements IMI made over its decade of existing, and look towards ongoing and new areas of research.

Download the report