This new institution draws attention to the scope and importance of the UDE’s research on integration and migration, encourages collaboration with researchers from other established institutions, and raises the competitiveness of the research at the UDE. The decision to establish the Centre was inspired not least by the belief that science and research can address challenges in society and develop meaningful responses and initiatives for contemporary problems and conflicts.
As the movement of people between regions or between and within states, migration has many causes, often connected with war, hardship and adversity, but often too with expectations of a better life in another society or country. Among individuals and in the source and destination countries, migration processes can lead to significant changes, not infrequently to conflict and longer-term social and political upheaval, but also to new possibilities for cultural and economic development. Immigration is a challenge for social and political development; it forces us to identify opportunities and resources and to assess possible effects and risks. What are the causes and consequences of migration and the opportunities of and barriers to integration with regard to labour, education, health, culture, politics, law, religion and language, and how can they be defined and understood theoretically and empirically? Answers to these questions help us to find and discuss new possibilities for social and political development and explore their consequences.
Over 70 scientists from different disciplines and faculties at the University of Duisburg- Essen research and teach integration and migration. InZentIM intends to support and network this special scientific resource, which also provides expertise relevant to public discourses and decisions, and deepen it through exchange. The work of InZentIM centres on key issues that are organised into clusters (Language and Communication; Culture and Religion; Education, Labour and Social Participation; Health and Wellbeing; Political Governance and Development; Transnational and Global Processes). The work in the clusters is further deepened by research on externally funded projects. Examples of these include the research group of Prof. Andreas Blätte and Prof. Andreas Niederberger within the “Mercator Forum Migration and Democracy” project consortium, which analyses the impact of policy instruments on arguments and democratic decision-making processes, and Prof. Achim Görres’s DFG-funded study on voting behaviour among immigrants. Prof. Niederberger were also successful in winning an EU project: “Norms and Values in the European Migration and Refugee Crisis”. The project is coordinated at the UDE.
 InZentIM encourages multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research collaboration and long-term development of work on that basis. It is also concerned with the ethical, political and professional dimensions and ultimately also with the value and impact of knowledge transfer and consultation in political and social transformation processes.
The UDE’s location is not insignificant for this research field. It is located in a region with a long history of migration. The many people who have arrived and continue to arrive here have made and are still making this a diverse society, where similarities and differences in experience, learning and work are part of everyday life; at the same time, it repeatedly faces the challenge of not simply letting transformation happen, but actively shaping it. It therefore made sense that the first university centre for integration and migration in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) should be located here.
Three new (foundation) professorships established in 2017/2018 will help to extend the UDE’s research profile to date in the fields of integration and migration. The scope of research at InZentIM also takes on new dimensions as a result. The new appointments will cover Migration and Participation, Intercultural Psychology, and Entrepreneurship and Migration. From 2018, five new professorships under the federal and state government programme to promote young scientists and researchers (“Wisna” professorships) will again strengthen InZentIM’s research potential. They will focus on the following thematic areas: Transnational Cooperation and Migration Research; Multilingualism and Social Participation; Language Integration; Global Mobility from the 18th to the 20th Century; Labour Market, Migration, Integration. The new professorships extend the research and teaching potential of their respective faculties, promote integration and migration research at the University, and contribute to the direction and profile of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Integration and Migration Research.

 InZentIM has used its start-up phase to engage in diverse initiatives and activities. After its presentation as part of an internal university workshop in October 2016, InZentIM was officially opened on 8 February 2017. The ceremony was held at the University and attended by many UDE scholars in the presence of the Economics Minister of the State of NRW, the mayors of the Cities of Essen and Duisburg, and many guests from business and politics. The speeches were held by the former president of the German Bundestag Prof. Dr. Rita Süssmuth and by Prof. Dr. Naika Foroutan, Vice-Director of the Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research (BIM). InZentIM’s business premises were also inaugurated and staff appointments made. The first elected board of directors to follow the founding board has now also been constituted and laid out its operating priorities. Internally, they include developing InZentIM’s collaborative function and establishing formats and projects, and externally, positioning the research institution in science and research and at regional, state and federal level, especially through contact with social institutions and policy-makers.

In June 2017 InZentIM had the opportunity to present itself to a broader public at its first major congress, “Key elements of model communities for refugees and immigrants”. The congress was very well attended and attracted widespread media attention. Its concept was to bring together science and practice. The success of its concept was apparent from the numbers of attendees, many of them young, from citizens’ initiatives, community centres and nationwide institutions, who took part alongside the many participants from the academic community. In the summer of 2018, InZentIM is hosting another major international congress on “Migration, Social Transformation, and Education for Democratic Citizenship”.

InZentIM’s initiatives in its start-up and development phase also included setting up two visiting professorships, developing its website and finalising the target and performance agreements up to the end of 2018. With these agreements in place, InZentIM now also has access to focused financial support for its members’ research projects. InZentIM has a very clear focus on cooperation with initiatives in the field – it is precisely in this practical relevance that the social significance of the Centre is most manifest.

Another highlight of InZentIM’s activities is undoubtedly its involvement, led by Prof. Abs and Prof. Blätte, since autumn 2016 in setting up a new research alliance on integration and migration at federal level. InZentIM is one of the founding members of the DeZIM-Gemeinschaft (DeZIM community), a network of seven leading German research institutions that together with a central institute in Berlin make up the collaborative alliance of the new German Centre for Integration and Migration Research. The agenda of the DeZIM alliance is developed in close collaboration with partners in government and politics. As the current phase of work begins, projects are already planned that will be conducted in the participating institutes. In the same context InZentIM has also developed proposals that have been approved and will help to define and shape the Institute’s national and international profile.