Department of Culture and Learning


New project launched: "Educating newcomers to the welfare state. Organizational responses to migration 1960s-2010s and their influence on Danish central policy"

Head of Centre for Education Policy Research, professor Mette Buchardt, leads a new 3 1/2 year project alongside Politics and Society's associate professor Karen N. Breidahl on frontline organizations' impact on Danish policy.

Last modified: 16.09.2022

new project launched: Educating newcomers to the welfare state. Organizational responses to migration 1960s-2010s and their influence on Danish central policy

A new project situated in Centre for Education Policy research was launched on August 1, 2022. It is headed by Head of CfU, professor Mette Buchardt, and her colleague from Department for Politics and Society, associate professor Karen N. Breidahl. The project is interdisciplinary as it draws on education science, welfare state history and political science and explores how frontline organizations from the late 1960s to the 2010s have practiced the task of educating immigrants for their lives in Denmark, and how these practices have influenced and possibly changed central policy.

The workpackages utilize archival studies and oral history interviews to uncover how frontline organizations have practiced the task of education immigrants for their lives in Denmark and it's influence on central policy. When people from outside of Denmark seek asylum in Denmark, they are received by frontline organized tasked by the state with mediating the national policies. Newcomers thus experience the welfare state and it's practices and values through encounters with these organizations and while they are therefore crucial in integration policy, research on these organizations' practices and influences is minimal. Buchardt, Breidahl, Bergenheim and Hansen set out to change that with a comprehensive project spanning 50 years of practice and policy.

four participants

The project consists of four workpackages, where postdoc Sophy Bergenheim will study how language instruction was organized by Danish Refugee Council over a 50-year period from the 1960s to the 2010s. Professor Mette Buchardt will study the cooperative housing association AAB's "Ishøj-planen" from it's establishment in 1970 and until the 2010s when the Government introduced "ghetto lists". The thirs workpackage is a PhD project by Siv Holm Hansen who will study Red Cross Denmark that was a key operator for asylum reception from 1984 and onwards, where she will focus on one of the oldest Danish asylum centers that has operated for over 30 years. Lastly, drawing e.g. on the findings from the three previous workpackages, associate professor Karen N. Breidahl will explore the possible changes of the frontline organizations' asylum reception to central policy and welfare state dynamics. 

advisory boards

The project team is advised by two advisory boards, a stakeholder advisory board and an international advisory board. The stakeholder advisory board consist of representatives from the organizations studied: Mette Blauenfeldt, Deputy Director, DRC Integration, Christian Høgsbro, CEO, AAB, and Anne la Cour Vågen, Head, the Asylum Department, RCD. The international advisory boardconsists of excellent scholars from the fields represented: Prof. Pauli Kettunen, Uni. of Helsinki, Assoc.Prof. Evelyn Brodkin, Uni. of Chicago, and Leo Lucassen, Prof., Leiden Uni., Director of International Centre for Social History, Amsterdam.

The research team (and affiliate member, PhD Fellow Nanna Ramsing Enemark) met up a few weeks ago in Copenhagen to visit Danish Refugee Council and have the first scientific discussions in the project.