The University of Edinburgh’s Big Idea podcast series has dedicated its latest episode to the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe.

Three experts from across the University look at the underlying causes for the displacement of millions of people, such as the civil war in Syria and the influence of so-called Islamic State. They discuss how the crisis is challenging the European Union’s foundations, consider the language used when discussing refugees, and ask whether the UK is doing enough to help.


Our speakers

Dr Thomas Pierret

Dr Thomas Pierret

Lecturer in contemporary Islam, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

The current strategy of bombing Islamic State is irrelevant as far as the refugee crisis is concerned.

Dr Steve Kirkwood

Dr Steve Kirkwood

Lecturer in Social Work, expert in asylum seekers

Edinburgh doubles in size during the festival, showing we can take in more people if we need to.

Nina Perkowski

Nina Perkowski

PhD candidate in Politics and International Relations, specialising in EU border management and security

Is this the beginning of the end for freedom of movement across European Union? The member states need to ask whether this is a principle they value.

What’s The
Big Idea?

The Big Idea is a free monthly podcast featuring academics bringing their expertise and research to bear on contemporary issues and breaking news.

Now in its third year, The Big Idea has looked at everything from the Scottish independence debate and Russian nationalism to the ghost stories of the Enlightenment and all-female roller derbies.

Designed for an engaged and interested public, the podcasts are a great way to hear about the University’s work presented in an accessible manner.

To explore previous episodes or subscribe please click here.

Comments on “The refugee crisis”

    Elizabeth Forbes says:
    Author’s gravatar

    Oh dear! Steve certainly seems to be in an ivory tower – and I gather one in the Antipodes, where there’s a lot more room than there is here, and I seem to remember that Australia at least is hardly opening its arms to current refugees let alone offering to help with Syrians. Equating refugees to tourist visitors to the Festival is simplistic- tourists are very short term and self funded, and net contributors to the economy. I guess he’s not volunteered with probationers, mentally ill, illiterate, leaving care etc etc. There is a desperate shortage of support already, and many ‘clients’ are in fact already refugees and illegal immigrants. As you say, public opinion is hugely sympathetic to the plight of those fleeing Syria, but some of us already working at the ‘coal face’ of dealing with deprivation and disadvantage do wonder how on earth we could cope with a significant number of refugees. And it might be more helpful were Nina to compare the number who might come here with the number of unemployed – currently 1.85 million people were unemployed in the March-to-May period, an increase of 15,000 from the previous quarter, with the jobless rate at 5.6% – rather than the population as a whole. Also, although neighbouring countries eg Lebanon are taking huge numbers, would we here accept inflicting on those coming here the kind of conditions refugees in Lebanon, Jordan etc are experiencing? I fear not. And in the longer term, perhaps someone might consider the effect of the birthrate for Muslims currently being twice that of Christians – however those categories have been arrived at. These factors cannot simply be ignored. Society of course evolves, but something more than philanthropy is required if it is to do so peacefully.

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