Utrecht University

Utrecht University (UU) Utrecht University is an internationally renowned research university, known for its innovative cross-disciplinary research and high quality education. The team is composed of researchers working at the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning and the Utrecht University School of Governance (USG) studies.


Annelies Zoomers (programme director Welcoming Spaces) is Professor of International Development Studies (IDS) at Utrecht University and chair of the IS-academy on land governance (LANDac); she is involved in various research projects assessing the implications of migration/investment deals for local development in the context of the global south. She has published extensively about sustainable livelihoods; land policies and the impact of privatisation, tourism and international migration. She is the founding director of Shared Value Foundation and the chair of WOTRO Science for Global Development. Email: E.B.Zoomers@uu.nl.

Maggi Leung is Associate Professor at the Department of Human Geography and Planning at Utrecht University. Her research focuses on the geography and impact of migration and other forms of mobility (esp. academic and professional mobility), internationalisation of education and related outcomes in knowledge mobilty and capacity development. She has extensive fieldwork research experience in China, Hong Kong, Germany, the Netherlands, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Zambia. She is
experienced in supervising PhDs and post-doc researchers, and in leading international, interdisciplinary research projects. Email: W.H.M.Leung@uu.nl.

Karin Geuijen is Assistant Professor at the department of Governance of Utrecht University (The Netherlands) and research affiliate at the University of Oxford (United Kingdom), Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS). Her main research interests focus on the role which hybrid (multilevel and multisector) networks have in creating public value, especially in the domains of justice and security. She does monitoring and evaluation research in order to establish whether public value is actually being created. Email: k.geuijen@uu.nl

Sara Miellet is a postdoctoral researcher in the Welcoming Spaces Programme based at Utrecht University School of Governance. Within Welcoming Spaces, Sara’s research focuses on migrant agency and civic initiatives in marginalised regions in the Netherlands, Germany and Poland. Sara obtained her PhD at Utrecht University within the Cities of Refuge Research project. Her PhD focused on Dutch and German municipalities of varying size and scale. It examined why and how municipal actors engage with human rights in the context of forced migration, and through what political contestations, encounters and spaces human rights-based approaches to forced migration develop. Before that, she conducted research on how recognised refugees experience and navigate uncertainties arising from the Dutch dispersal and housing policy. Email: s.e.miellet@uu.nl

Jofelle Tesorio has worked on other research projects on irregular migrants and South-South migration. Within the Welcoming Spaces project, she is doing research about Ukrainian refugees in the Netherlands particularly those who have receded in rural communities and their peripheries. Her research hopes to contribute to the growing literature on the effects and contribution of migrants outside the cities, as well as lessons learned from the arrival of Ukrainians in their host countries in the longstanding debate on refugee integration. Also trained as a journalist, she has been investigating media representations of different groups of migrants and reporting about issues of Asian migrants in Europe. She also did various research on transnational land deals of Gulf countries in Asia, labor unions, and sustainable cities. She is also the coordinator of Shared Value Foundation (SVF), a research NGO that focuses on the social impact of development projects. Email: j.p.tesorio@uu.nl

Marlies Meijer is Assistant Professor of Human Geography and Spatial Planning at Utrecht University. She has a background in spatial planning and  rural development studies and holds a PhD in Human Geography and Spatial Planning from the Radboud University Nijmegen (2018). This PhD Research focused on community-led and informal planning practices in depopulating regions across Europe. For this research project she worked as a visiting researcher at Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (Spain) and Linköping University (the Netherlands). Her current research focusses successes and failures of citizen initiatives in rural and urban depopulating contexts. Email: m.meijer1@uu.nl.

Bianca Szytniewski is Assistant Professor of Human Geography and Spatial Planning at Utrecht University. She obtained her PhD in Human Geography at Radboud University Nijmegen  in 2018. In her PhD research, she examined cross-border mobility in European borderlands, both at the inner EU borders between The Netherlands, Germany and Poland and at the outer EU border between Poland and Ukraine. Since 2017, she has been involved in academic and policy research on European labour migration, and specifically labour migrants living in small Dutch municipalities across the Netherlands. Email: b.b.szytniewski@uu.nl.  

Ester Driel is an affiliated researcher in the Welcoming Spaces project, a lecturer of Interdisciplinary Social Science at Utrecht University and a PhD researcher at The European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations. Her ethnographic research focuses on innovative solutions that combine refugee reception with sustainable community development, with the main focus on Riace and other declining towns. She studies how such communities can be an example for refugee settlement in Europe by identifying the critical social, relational and policy aspects that affect the people involved. Her research is interdisciplinary, participatory and international, and she has worked amongst others at Collegio Carlo Alberto, IMISCOE and for Indian NGO’s. As a lecturer, she coordinates interdisciplinary courses and supervises theses on migration, ethnic relations, sexuality, gender, and the reception of refugees in European Welcoming Spaces. Email: e.y.driel@uu.nl 

Alberto Alonso-Fradejas, PhD in Development Studies/Political Ecology. International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), is Postdoctoral researcher in the Welcoming Spaces project, International Development Studies group of the Human Geography and Planning Department, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University. He is an associate researcher at the Transnational Institute (TNI) in Amsterdam, a fellow of the Guatemalan Institute of Rural Studies (IDEAR), and Reviews Section editor for the Journal of Peasant Studies (JPS). His work is available in  Google Scholar, ResearchGate and TNI. Email: alberto.alonso-fradejas@wur.nl.

Jana Finke is the PhD researcher in the Welcoming Spaces project and is based at the department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning at Utrecht University. As an interdisciplinary social scientist and educator, she has researched and taught in the areas of migration & social cohesion, gender & sexuality, and educational equality. She holds a Bachelor in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Amsterdam University College and a Master on International Migration and Social Cohesion (University of Amsterdam, University College Dublin, and University of Deusto). For her Master thesis, she conducted research on shared housing of “locals” and “refugees” in Cologne, Germany. Before starting her PhD, she was a junior lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, teaching and designing a variety of courses in the Bachelor programme in political science and in the minor on gender and sexuality studies. Email: j.c.finke@uu.nl.