Munk One

Conversations on Migration: Munk One Alumnus Begins a Discussion-Based Student Group

The Munk One program creates a space in which students are challenged to engage with complicated realities around the world. Jon Angell, a current student at the University of Toronto and alumni of the Munk One program, is part of the Migration and Displacement Student Group which will give students the opportunity to build a deeper understanding of migration issues and how they fit into our current global system.

Jon first encountered the realities of migration issues while working at a camp for internally displaced people in Bosnia. Through his work there and dialogue with his Bosnian colleagues, he began to understand both the complexity of migration and the hope that permeated the community. While the movement of people is crucial to facilitate, it is simultaneously a difficult reality that can mean living in financial and social precarity, often for an unknown period of time. He followed this interest while in the Munk One program and later in pursuing a double specialist in Human Geography and Peace, Conflict, and Justice.

While Jon found fantastic professors working on migration issues within the Munk School and broader university community, he also saw a need for informed and student-led discussions outside the classroom. The objective of this group is to encourage students to engage with migration issues in a low-stakes and discussion-oriented environment, particularly built for those who might not otherwise get involved.

Despite having studied migration issues throughout his degree, Jon stresses that there is always more he can explore. “I want to hear from other students and understand their perspectives… there’s always something else you can learn,” Jon explains. “I’d like to continue that learning, and that’s part of the reason why I’d like to create this group.”

The group will be largely collaborative and democratic, giving students the space to bring forward topics of interest and what shape the space will take. Because the program will be housed in the Asian Institute at the Munk School, it will have a particular but not explicit focus on migration and displacement related to the Asia Pacific region. The future of the group could also include discussions with graduate students, dialogue with experts and practitioners in the field, or even international partnerships with students at the National University of Singapore.

Jon explains that migration issues never have a direct answer, and are often embedded in grey areas of social change and politics. Some students might be intimidated by this complexity, as it can be difficult to fully understand migration issues, or further, take a stance on issues at all.

“Our hope is that people will be inclined to participate because this is an opportunity to develop their understanding,” Jon says. As migration is such an interdisciplinary field, this open dialogue is crucial to moving forward with migration issues.

For interested students, sign-up at the link here. Students are encouraged to attend the initial meeting on October 30th, and subsequent meeting times will be decided on as a group.