Swedish post includes bike

Nov 13, 2003, vol. 28, no. 6
By Julie Ovenell-Carter

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SFU economics professor Don DeVoretz (above) is set to take Sweden by storm. Or by bicycle, at least.

This January, DeVoretz, head of SFU's centre for research on immigration and integration in the metropolis, will become the first immigration economist to hold the Willy Brandt guest professorship in the school of international migration and ethnic relations (IMER) at Sweden's Malmo University.

The prestigious eight-month research appointment includes a small apartment and a bicycle - the preferred method of urban transport in this seaside community of 300,000.

SFU recently partnered with Malmo University to advance research in three areas: education, interactive arts and industrial design, and immigration studies. It was while visiting SFU earlier this fall that the dean of IMER met DeVoretz and invited him to visit the former industrial centre on Sweden's south coast.

In a city where more than 40 per cent of the population is foreign-born, it is not coincidental that Malmo is home to the world's only university faculty devoted to immigration studies.

“Since Sweden joined the European Union (EU) in 1995, there has been much controversy and apprehension over the influx of immigrants into the country,” observes DeVoretz.

“Malmo's industrial base suffered after 1995, and the municipal leaders looked to the new university to resuscitate the economy. Their idea was to create a school that would study immigration and models of conflict resolution, and in 1998, they funded a chair named for Willy Brandt, a man renowned for his global citizenship.”

(Brandt, the former chancellor of West Germany, fled his native country during the Second World War and lived in Sweden as a refugee.)

DeVoretz will deliver several public lectures on his research, which will include an examination of how EU expansion has affected immigration and migration patterns in Europe.

He will also extend his current research into the effect of citizenship on immigrant performance.

“I am looking forward to exploring that question in a European context,” he says, “and what better place to study it than in a European school that specializes in the area.”

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