Penn State leads global research on migration

Penn State’s Migration Studies Project has won a research grant from the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) for a study of communication and identity among skilled migrants. WUN is providing major funding, with matching support from participating universities, for a total of nearly $60,000.

Suresh Canagarajah, director of the Migration Studies Project and the Edwin Earle Sparks Professor of Applied Linguistics, English, and Asian Studies, is the principal investigator, with co-PI’s from eight universities in the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, South Africa, and U.S. 

“This project aims to understand the communication strategies and social skills that migrants adopt to resolve their identity conflicts,” said Canagarajah.  “One issue will be the social and communicative dynamics of professional interactions in the transnational workplace. Another question is how do these professionals balance their cultural identities and professional relationships in these settings?”

The researchers will interview skilled migrants from a dominant professional community in their own locations. After eight months of data collection, transcription, and coding, the investigators will meet in Penn State in November 2013 to analyze their findings and plan future publications and grant applications. The multi-sited study will help understand the differences between national groups in different work contexts to develop a comparative perspective.

The research also is expected to explore ways in which skilled migration enables international development. The migration of skilled professionals from less developed countries has attracted the attention of scholars, state-level policy makers, and international organizations (such as the World Bank) for the contributions migrants make for economic development in both rich and poor countries.

With Penn State serving as the hub institution for this research project, the following universities will collaborate in this study: York University, Bristol University, and Leeds University, all United Kingdom; University of Sydney, Australia; University of Cape Town, South Africa; Hong Kong Baptist University and Chinese University of Hong Kong; and University of Wisconsin and University of Rochester, N.Y.

Last Updated February 14, 2013