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Roehampton academic investigates responses to migration

Dr Susanna Snyder from the University of Roehampton has been awarded a grant to carry out a study into what motivates people in their responses to contemporary migration.

Posted: 10 October 2016

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One of the artworks which Dr Snyder will be exploring as part of the project. This boat was used by migrants to reach Lesbos in Greece, and was hung in St James Piccadilly. Photo: Flight by Arabella Dorman.

Why people act ethically and morally has long been a topic of debate in society, and the recent European migration crisis has brought the question of compassionate action and social justice to the fore once again. Dr Snyder’s project, entitled Immigration, spirituality and the arts, will investigate what role spirituality and the arts play in the actions of those who have a desire for social justice.

Dr Snyder, said, “In exploring the connections between responses to migration, arts-based projects and spirituality, this project hopes to shed light on what motivates people to start engaging in and stay committed to the struggle for social justice.”   

It has previously been observed by theologians that spirituality and the arts have the potential to motivate and sustain people in their ethical practices, encouraging empathy and an increased awareness of others, but there has been little investigation of how this is expressed in practice.

Dr Snyder will be conducting ethnographic, interview-based research among migrants from faith-based and community arts organisations, as well as artists and volunteers with third-sector groups who are supporting migrants and refugees.

As well as teaching the short course ‘Migration Matters’ at Catherine of Siena College, where she is assistant director, Dr Snyder has published and lectured widely on immigration and theology, in addition to volunteering as a befriender and mentor with refugees and immigration detainees.

The grant of £2459 was made by Southlands Methodist Trust (SMT), established by Southlands College. The Trust focuses on enabling the Methodist community and wider public in Britain, and internationally, to benefit from the expertise within the College and at the University, which has a strong tradition in theology and a variety of courses available.

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