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The Networking Unit "Paradigm Shift" (NUPS) at the Institute for Urban and Regional Planning (ISR)


The Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) launched the Network on Interdisciplinary Social Policy Research in 2016. Its aim is to strengthen independent research in the field of social policies and to support scientists in establishing new research in the field. In addition, it points to a more comprehensive integration of universities into this field of knowledge. The FIS-networking project is part of this initiative. The networking project “Paradigm Shift” contributes to the international networking of researchers in the field of social policy-related migration research and supports Germany's paradigm shift towards an immigration society. It concentrates on five tasks:

Firstly, the team is responsible for shaping the thematic focus "Impacts of technological and climatic changes on migration" and preparing the contributions during the International Metropolis Conference, IMCB22, in Berlin in September 2022 (www.imcb22.com). It advises the task force of the conference on content through the formation of two respective working groups.

As part of this network, the networking project "Paradigm Shift in the Migration Society", based at the Technical University, connects scientists in the knowledge field of migration in an interdisciplinary approach on two central topics. These are:

  • "Impact of climate change on migration"
  • "Technological developments, migration and the future of work".

Secondly, it contributes to Germany's international visibility in the field of future-oriented interdisciplinary social policy research by making use of the contacts that are to be established in the pre-conference process and the reflections that will be developed within that process.

Thirdly, the results of the cooperation will be integrated into the further establishment of FIS and DIFIS, becoming a point of reference for the entire social policy community. The networking project also aims to address colleagues who are already working on social policy issues as it enhances new connections between different strands of knowledge. It provides “food for thought” for relevant future research questions.

Fourthly, the networking project links the international research community and broadens its perspective towards interdisciplinary research.

Finally, the networking project introduces participatory and well-regarded formats of knowledge transfer into the ICMB22 process by focusing on teaching events and the promotion of young researchers, as well as formats of life-long learning.

Working groups

Currently, two working groups are supervised:

Working group Technological developments and the future of work


Technological developments and the future of work

Partners (alphabetical): Maurizio Ambrosini (University of Milan, Milan), Howard Duncan (Carlton University, Ontario), Mariella Falkenhain (IAB, Nuremberg), Martin Bak Jörgensen (Aalborg University), Hong Thù Khuan (Hanoi), Tesseltje de Lange (Radboud University, Nijmegen), Valentina Mazzucato (Maastricht University), Chin Lin Pang (KU Leuven, University of Antwerp), Nicola Piper (Queen Mary University, London), Hannes Schamman (University of Hildesheim), Thorsten Schlee (University of Duisburg-Essen), Riem Spielhaus (GEI, University of Göttingen), Margaret Walton Roberts (Laurier University, Waterloo), Astrid Ziebarth (German Marshall Fund, Berlin).

 Download Research Brief: “Technological developments, migration and the future of work”




Working group: Climate Change - Impact on Migration


Working group: Climate Change - Impact on Migration

Partners (alphabetic): Wiwandari Handayani (Universitas Diponegoro, Semarang), Johannes Herbeck (ArTEC Universität Bremen), Lori Mae Hunter (University of Colorado, Boulder) Robert McLeman (Laurier University, Waterloo), Harald Sterly (Universität Wien), Joseph Teye (University of Ghana, Accra), Steven Vertovec (Max-Planck-Institute, Göttingen), Caroline Zickgraf (Hugo-Observatory, Liège).


Research Brief: "Climate change – impact on migration”

The working group on climate change and migration published it first research brief on salient issues and approaches concerning the nexus between climate change and migration. Here you find information on upcoming webinars, a mini-state of the art, hints on pivotal literature and thoughts about what could be next steps for research and policy. The research brief delineates the main ambivalences of the debate. Please find the PDF for download here:


Download Research Brief: "Climate change – impact on migration”


Call for Papers

Call for papers and announcement of our NUPS-conference:

Re-emerging Topics in Interdisciplinary Migration Research: The impact of the big challenges “climate change” and “new technologies” on migratory patterns and their links with social policies 

Date: Berlin, 2023, 2nd and 3rd march, TU Berlin, Institute of Urban and Regional Planning

Starting from the existing nups-network at TU Berlin, the conference will bring together scholars already conducting research or planning to do so in three research-fields/fields of knowledge: 

  • Field Nr. 1, Climate Change and Migration
  • Field Nr. 2, New Technologies, Migration and the Future of Work
  • Field Nr. 3, Transnational Social Policies

Call for Papers 


We invite colleagues from academia and NGOs as well as early-career scholars to present their works in progress. We encourage the presentation of empirical research findings.  

The aim of the conference is to bring together international scholars with an interest in the social policy dimension of migration research and to develop a research agenda that is forward-thinking and innovative.



  • Expression of interest/Abstracts (250 – 400 words) due: 10.12.2022
  • Information about acceptance: 20.12.2022
  • Draft of the papers due (2.500 words): 25.02.2023



Prof. Dr. Felicitas Hillmann, Sophie Sommerfeld, M.A. & Helen Nyama Boahen, B.A.


Contact information:

Please send your expression of interest/abstracts to: boahenhe@hu-berlin.de

Please contact us in case you need more information: hillmann@tu-berlin.de, Sommerfeld.1@tuberlin.de 

The NUPS Reality Flashs on Youtube


The NUPS Reality Flashes are focusing on the topics of climate change and migration as well as technological change, migration and the future of work. The videos in interview format provide insights into the lives of various people around the globe and how their realities are affected by these issues.

Episodes and Links:

Webinar Series 2022

Nurturing future industries: issuing visa for digital nomads and cheering reverse remittances


13.00 – 14.00 MESZ 

A large spectrum of online resources provide an emerging global cast of mobile workers with digital resources – everything from finding the right visa for their purposes to booking accommodation and coworking spaces. This way, mostly western professionals, such as IT-workers, writers and marketing specialists work remotely in countries that allow for better living conditions, provide leisure time events, and facilitate connection with peer workers, all at a fraction of the cost they might pay in their home countries. To accommodate this fraction of “digital nomads”, which has increased during the pandemic despite lockdowns and travel bans, many countries have scrambled to build (legal) infrastructure which will attract their movement. At the same time, closely related questions of social policies for these foreigners remain ambiguous: for example health protection, taxation, worker protection. In theory, these nomads will spend their comparatively high-spending-power salaries in the local economy, thereby compensating economic losses suffered due to lack of regular tourism flows – a theory which is supported by groups such as the OECD and the Islands Economic Cooperation Forum. However, these attempts to harvest “reverse remittances” as foreigners spend money in the local economy go along with issues such as transnational gentrification, rising expenses for locals, and elite spaces which exclude the local population.


Prof. Dr. Beverly Yuen Thompson (Siena University, New York) presents her book Digital Nomads Living on the Margins: Remote-Working Laptop Entrepreneurs in the Gig Economy.

Prof. Dr. Daniel Cockayne (University of Waterloo) speaks on the economic function and discursive practice of sharing in the digital ‘on demand’ economy



Prof. Dr Margaret Walton-Roberts (Wilfried Laurier University, Toronto)


Prof. Dr. Felicitas Hillmann (NUPS)


Meeting ID: 635 4293 2669, Passcode: 703814


Refugee entrepreneurship - voices of migration-led regeneration

15.00 – 16.00 Berlin time

Integration has two essential pillars – education and employment. However, for many years the existence of migrant economies has been played down both in public and in social policies. Neglecting the self-governing economies of migrant entrepreneurs as an important element of our economies undercuts the potential innovations that come along with them. Especially with the many refugees coming from the Ukraine, it is time to rethink the opportunities that self-employment offers for fully-fledged labour market integration.

In our webinar we shed light on the role of migrant entrepreneurship not only for migrants, but also for the labour market and society as a whole.


Natalie Schtefunyk, project "Bab Maria Helps" (Bremen), initiated by a Ukrainian businesswoman.

Kim Pöckler, "nouranour" project (Witten) enabling social and economic participation

Q Network, Migrant Economies Unit (Nürnberg) (tbc)



Libuse Cerna (Bremen) will comment on the two projects.


Prof. Dr. Felicitas Hillmann (NUPS)


Meeting ID: 615 6913 1482, Passcode: 966468


Remote work and return migration: Can ICTs motivate return migration?

15:00 - 16:00 MESZ

Many western societies face population decline and, as a result, will face workforce shortages in various sectors of their labour markets. Pro-natality policies normally fail and cannot reverse the trend of shrinking. The solution must be found in migration, that is, in persuading people to migrate to the country with a declining population, whether these people are members of the national diaspora who have previously emigrated or citizens of other countries. Our webinar points to such changes and discusses related strategies of remote work and ICT.


Agnese Lace, Providus – Centre for Public Policy, Riga, Latvia

Dr. Dejan Valentinčič, State Secretary, State Secretary for Slovenian Abroad & Research Institute of American Slovenian Education Foundation ASEF

Dr. Caroline Hornstein-Tomic, Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, Zagreb


Prof. Dr. Howard Duncan, Carleton University


Chair: Prof. Dr. Felicitas Hillmann (NUPS, TU Berlin


Meeting ID: 612 0553 6352, Passcode: 484697


Technology, Food & Migration

18.07.2022                                                                                                                                           16.00 - 17.00 MESZ

In the 1970ties, Moroccan women were recruited as temporary migrant workers to come to the Netherlands to peal shrimps. Since, the women stay home in Morocco; the shrimps are shipped to them for processing and shipped back for consumption in western Europe or for export to elsewhere. In the 2020ties a machine is developed to peal the shrimps. This technological change has a price tag, thus the industries preferred practice remains to transport the shrimps to Morocco for processing. For now. With costs of fuel for transportation on the rise, this preference may shift. We foresee similar shifts: for glass houses it is no longer profitable to heat up and produce strawberries in January, in fisheries one cannot reach deeper waters. These are but some example of the interaction between three drivers of change towards more sustainable economies: migration, technology, and (the costs of) globalized food production practices. The purpose of this webinar is mapping: we bring forward exemplary cases that illustrate future societal dilemmas at the intersection of technology, food, and migration.


Dr. Karin Astrid Siegmann, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Rene Oostewechel, University of Wageningen

Dr. Giorgio Pirina, Ca’ Foscari UNiversity of Venice



Prof. Dr. Tesseltje de Lange, Nijmegen University



Prof. Dr. Felicitas Hillmann (NUPS)


Meeting ID: 629 6609 4550, Passcode: 208260


Download full program here


Platform technologies in the care sector: benefit or downside for international workers?

03.08.2022                                                                                                           13.00 – 14.00 MESZ

Increasingly we see that platform economies structure the interactions in the care economy: be it in terms of recruitment or as part of the service in place. Our webinar presents the case of a digital tool that aims at establishing fair conditions for international care-workers, it captures the experiences of international workers. The webinar also points to eventual downsides of platformization in this highly sensitive sector and discusses the sociopolitical consequences of digitalization.


Prof. Anke Strüver, (University of Graz)

Laura Esnaola (CarewithCare, Brussels)

Jay Fernando (Labour mobility partnerships)   


Prof. Dr. Felicitas Hillmann (NUPS)    


Link: tu-berlin.zoom.us/j/62845712862 Meeting ID: 628 4571 2862, Passcode: 183484  


The melting of the iceberg: a glocal approach of micro-interventions


Time: 16:00 MESZ/CEST

Research on climate change and migration tends to focus on local responses to rapid-onset events. In contrast, the aim of our webinar is to shed light on more complex situations of slow onset changes, and where we consider, through the metaphor of "the iceberg is melting", how these are embedded into an extractive economic logic. The focus will be on migration as an adaptation strategy in situ and as part of micro-interventions in reaction of environmental degradation. Regional examples are migration as livelihood strategy in Mexico (Hunter), the exploitation and destruction of natural resources (Kniveton), and remittances and risk reduction (Veronis). We argue that there are nested political economies at work and that a glocal perspective will be key for a better understanding and concrete actions in terms of environmental change and migration.


Prof. Dr. Lori Hunter, University of Colorado Boulder

Prof. Dr. Luisa Veronis, University of Ottawa

Prof. Dr.  Dominic Kniveton, University of Sussex



Prof. Dr. Felicitas Hillmann (NUPS)


Link:  https://tu-berlin.zoom.us/j/61680090828?pwd=WDREMExpS3dSM0FoeXRia1VlY0lrQT09                Meeting ID: 616 8009 0828, Passcode: 208261


The FIS networking project is based at TU Berlin as part of the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning.

It’s team-members are:

Prof. Dr. Felicitas Hillmann


Prof. Dr. Felicitas Hillmann

Position: Chair


The project leader is an internationally renowned researcher in the field of migration and urban research. In the years 2015 - 2020, she established the current research focus at the Institute for Urban and Regional Planning. She is now continuing this within the framework of the acquired networking project. In the Corona Year 2021, she was a guest at the Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Research at Humboldt University. There and at the BTU Cottbus she worked as a lecturer. Her academic positions include professorships at the University of Bremen (2006 - 2012), FU Berlin (2012/2013), University of Cologne (2013/2014), and also a visiting professorship at the Sapienza in Rome (2019). She is member of the editorial board of the journals "Cosmopolitan Civil Societies", "Geographical Review" and "Glocalism" and member of the Council for Migration as well as senior chair of the AK Geographische Migrationsforschung. Together with Margaret Walton-Roberts and Brenda Yeoh she is working on the project "Global pathways for nurses" on care migration as part of glocal governance (2020 - 2025). In the context of the Berlin University Alliance, she led the project "Cities need what they can't plan fully: cosmopolitan diversity in smaller cities in Germany and the UK" in cooperation with COMPAS, University of Oxford (2019 - 2021).

Recent publications include:

Hillmann, F., M. Walton-Roberts und B. Yeoh (2022): Moving Nurses to Cities: Mobility Infrastructure, Transurban Networks and the Care Industry. For: Urban Studies. Special Issue on Migrant Industries. Hg. von N. Cohen, T. Fogelmann und H. Lebuhn.

Hillmann, F. (2022): Coming of age: migrant economies and social policies in Germany. In: Cosmopolitan Civil Societies – an interdisciplinary Journal.

Hillmann, F. (2021): Die arrangierte Stadt. Neue Segregationen als Ersatz planerischen Handelns in der kosmopolitischen Stadt. In: Jahrbuch für christliche Sozialwissenschaften, Bd. 62 Wohnen - Gutes Leben - Gerechtigkeit, S. 195 - 220, online hier: https://www.uni-muenster.de/Ejournals/index.php/jcsw/article/view/3546

Hillmann, F. (2021): Denn ein Beruf ist ein goldenes Armband. In: Merhaba Berlin. Geschichten vom Ankommen und Hierbleiben.60. Jahrestag des Anwerbeankommens zwischen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und der Türkei. 1961 - 2021, S. 50 - 53. Download hier: https://www.paritaet-berlin.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Dokumente/2021/Oktober/Merhaba_Berlin_Anwerbeabkommen.pdf

Hillmann, F. (2021): Becoming glocal bureaucrats: mayors, institutions and civil society in smaller cities in Brandenburg during the 'migration crisis', 2015 - 2017. In: Territory, Politics, Governance. https://doi.org/10.1080/21622671.2021.1936147 Planning for migrant integration and inclusion in smaller municipalities - lessons from a Berlin/Oxford policy exchange. Policy Brief.

Hillmann, F & M. Samers (2021): TRANSATLANTIC PERSPECTIVES ON URBAN TRANSFORMATION AND THE GOVERNANCE OF MIGRATION: INTRODUCTION TO THE SPECIAL ISSUE, Geographical Review, DOI: 10.1080/00167428.2021.1891835, https://doi.org/10.1080/00167428.2021.1891835

Hillmann, F. & B. Togral Koca (2021): “By women, for women, and with women”: on the integration of highly qualified female refugees into the labour Markets of Berlin and Brandenburg. In: Comparative Migration Studies (2021) 9:3 https://doi.org/10.1186/s40878-020-00211-3



Lisa Sophie Sommerfeld



Lisa Sophie Sommerfeld has been working for many years on the topics of migration and integration, especially on the socio-political dimension of flight and the accompanying local integration processes. In summer 2019, she supported the international research project "Cities need what they can't plan fully" of the TU Berlin/University of Oxford and participated in the preparation of a networking project within the framework of the "Grand Challenge Initiative Social Cohesion" of the Berlin University Alliance". Parallel to her tasks for the networking project, she is working on her dissertation, which deals with the interface of migration and urban development with a focus on empowerment and participation of refugee migrants. Lisa Sophie Sommerfeld was an associate member of the DFG Collaborative Research Center "Re-Figuration of Spaces" (2020 - 2022)


Recent Publications:

Sommerfeld, S., & Hillmann, F. (2019). Blick nach vorne in welche Richtung? Stadtentwicklung für und mit Geflüchteten im Praxistest in Berlin-Marzahn und Berlin-Gropiusstadt. Stadtforschung und Statistik : Zeitschrift des Verbandes Deutscher Städtestatistiker, 32(2), 69-76. https://nbn-resolving.org/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-64114-4

Helen Nyama Boahen

Helen Nyama Boahen

Ms. Boahen works as a student assistant in the networking project. She is studying social sciences and statistics at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Her main areas of study and interest are migration, transnationalism, intersectional inequality research as well as urban and regional research. During her bachelor studies in social sciences at RWTH-Aachen, majoring in political science, she completed a research internship at the Institute for Political Science and the Research Center Jülich. Her work focused on the influence of China on East African states.

Francesca Brecha

Francesca Brecha

Francesca Brecha is a dual master student of urban and regional planning at TU Berlin and Universidad de Buenos Aires and supports the networking project with research and language editing. She has been working on the topic of migration since 2017: she has worked and volunteered on (forced) migration projects from Mexico to Greece to Germany. In addition to the "Paradigm Shift" project, she is a participant in the TU research project "Building Refugee Integration Through Urban Planning and Social Work" (BRICK) in Jordan and Berlin and works as a trainer for the integration initiative Bikeygees e.V. She hopes to keep migration at the center of her urban planning work, research and studies. Francesca Brecha graduated from Northeastern University in Boston, USA, with a bachelor's degree and grew up between the US and Germany.

A synopsis of the IMCB2022

Prof. Dr. Jan Rath, Prof. Dr. Felicitas Hillmann and PhD-Candidate Prinscilla Nkansah.
PhD Forum: Helmia Adita Fitra during her presentation "Understanding the return migration experience during the pandemic with reference to Indonesia, case of Lampung Province".
In front of a large audience: Helmia Adita Fitra and Prinscilla Nkansah gave a short input at the plenary on Climate Change and Migration.
Prof. Dr. Felicitas Hillmann speaks about the connections between migration, climate change and technology in the plenary session.

At the IMCB2022 the world came together. More than 1000 participants from almost all continents and world regions (from 40 countries) as well as from different contexts, such as international science, politics, NGOs and interested people from civil society, used the conference week for interdisciplinary networking and for a common dialogue. Intensive panel discussions, keynote speeches, study tours and contributions of numerous scientists and NGOs in the form of 78 workshops on various topics in the context of migration,  created a significant input.

Prof. Dr. Felicitas Hillmann, Prof. Dr. Robert McLeman, Prof. Dr. Mariama Awumbila and Ovais Sarmad spoke about the connection between migration and climate change in their plenary contribution on Wednesday. 

All ahead: the PhD Forum to launch the conference. On Sunday, 35 selected PhD candidates from around the world gave presentations on their exciting work and research.

(Helen Nyama Boahen)

Förderer und PartnerInnen


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Room B 210

University address:

TU Berlin
Hardenbergstraße 40 a
Sekr. B 4
10623 Berlin

The project office is located in room B227 and can be reached by phone at (+49) 314-21260. 

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