Vacancy for two student assistants within the Teaching Immigration in European Schools (TIES) project

The Teaching Immigration in European Schools (TIES) project, affiliated to the International Migration Institute (IMI) Amsterdam, aims to bring migration research to schools across Europe. With more and more students coming from different nationalities and cultures, European classrooms have become prime spaces where migration plays out. Yet, in contrast to public debates where migration is omnipresent, migration is often dealt with as a side-topic in school curricula. TIES brings academic knowledge on migration to European classrooms to foster students’ critical thinking about the drivers and dynamics of migration and its consequences for migrants and the societies they come from and live in.

The project has two specific objectives:

  • to develop guidelines for teaching migration in school in a participatory way through focus group discussions with migration scholars, teachers and students from European countries, migrants, and storytellers;
  • to design ten 45-min teaching modules covering central aspects of migration across the world, oriented towards students of middle and high schools and centres of lifelong learning. These modules will be made openly accessible, in five different languages, through a website.

The project is funded by a National Geographic Explorer Grant and will run from September 2020 to August 2022. It is led by Lea Müller-Funk based at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies, together with Katharina Natter and Simona Vezzoli from the University of Leiden, and Kerstin Brinnich, a German language and geography teacher at an Austrian high school.

We are looking for two enthusiastic student assistants who will support the TIES project both organisationally, as well as through substantial research. One position has a focus on organisational tasks as well as the creation and maintenance of a network of educational stakeholders and teachers across Europe, while the second position has a research component contributing mostly to the development of the teaching modules. The exact length and weekly working hours are negotiable but we are looking for two students who can each commit to work between 8-15 hours per week, preferably throughout the length of the project.

Your responsibilities

  • Conduct desk research on how migration is dealt within European school curricula
  • Set up a database and network of educational stakeholders and teachers across Europe
  • Plan and support the organization of two focus group discussions in Amsterdam
  • Contribute to the drafting of the teaching modules and their pedagogic approach
  • Contribute to the translation of the teaching modules in different languages
  • Manage the project’s digital presence including updating the website, sending regular newsletters, and maintaining a social media presence

Required qualifications

  • Inspiring ideas about and enthusiasm for innovative teaching
  • Enrolment in MA programme related to teaching youth and school-aged children or another relevant discipline and practical experience in teaching youth and school-aged children
  • Fluency in both English and Dutch, other language skills (German, Italian, French, Polish) are a plus  
  • Very good organisational skills and attention to detail
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a team, but also to work independently when necessary
  • Affinity to social media (Twitter, Facebook)
  • Basic website management skills

What are we offering?

  • We offer an exciting, multi-faceted, responsible and time-flexible position in a dynamic team. The two assistants will join a team consisting of three migration researchers, a high-school teacher and a graphic and web designer.
  • We value diversity and welcome all applications – regardless of gender, nationality, ethnicity, social origin, religion/belief, disability, age and sexual orientation and identity. Applicants with a migration background are strongly encouraged.
  • Based on the specific budget guidelines of National Geographic Society, we can offer a series of service contracts for defined tasks running throughout the length of the project (September 2020-August 2022). The remuneration amounts to € 15/h.


  • For applications, please send the following information, in one PDF file, to Dr Lea Müller-Funk ( by 20 August 2020: A short CV and motivation letter (2 pages max.) specifying which position you are interested in and explaining why you are applying and how you can contribute to the project, especially highlighting your experience and motivation. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in Amsterdam (or online) after the deadline has passed. Please contact Lea Müller-Funk for any further questions.

About the International Migration Institute

The International Migration Institute (IM), which hosts the TIES project, is based at the University of Amsterdam and regroups a network of research fellows from around the world. IMI activities are driven by the desire to advance the boundaries of migration research, advancing migration theory and promote evidence–based debates on migration and encourage greater engagement beyond the academy with the following objectives: (1) Developing a long-term perspective on migration and human mobility as an intrinsic part of global change; (2) Exploring new conceptual and methodological horizons for understanding and researching migration processes; (3) Sharing data and research through the IMI working paper series and other ‘open access’ platforms; (4) Disseminating evidence-based insights on migration to the broadest possible audiences using accessible language; (5) Creating new narratives on migration that challenge polarized debates between ‘pro-’ and ‘anti-’ migration voices.

Why I think that youth should learn about migration at school

graffiti, Southbank
Graffiti Southbank London 2014

Here I am trying to write the first blog post of my life. I recently won a National Geographic Explorer grant entitled TIES: Teaching Immigration in European Schools. This means that I will dedicate some of my time in the next two years to developing learning modules covering the main aspects of global migration – together with three great colleagues –  two migration scholars, Katharina Natter and Simona Vezzoli, and a high school teacher with a background in journalism, Kerstin Brinnich, –  as well as other teachers, students, storytellers and migrants. As with all successful project proposals, there is always this exciting but slightly frightening moment when an idea becomes reality: Developing ideas on paper is not the same as travelling to a suburb in a different country to do research, convincing someone to participate in a study, and living through the many difficult phases of data collection and analysis before results can be discussed, read and shared.

It would not be National Geographic if the grant did not come along with amazing courses about Photography, Video, Public Speaking, Social Media for Science Storytelling, and Writing for Impact, which grant holders are encouraged to take. I was initially hugely enthusiastic about leaving the stiff frame of academic writing behind, writing more creatively and learning how to tell research through strong stories. On a different level, these classes might also help me to deal with my current frustration not to be able to do fieldwork in Niger and Tunisia due to corona, which I had planned for months. But it is also a challenge. A smart person has once told me that the more he learns, the more he realises the extent of his ignorance. Besides wearing my hat as migration scholar, can I wear a different one? Or can I wear two at the same time? For me, the TIES project means to enter unchartered territory and to learn how to transform complex academic knowledge about migration into exciting online formats for school-aged youth and their teachers.

Graffiti Granada 2007

Why am I excited about starting this project in September 2020? Not least because National Geographic was one of the cherished magazines of my youth which made me want to travel and discover the world myself. But on a less personal and more societal level, it is because classrooms in Europe are prime spaces where migration plays out, as students come from different nationalities and cultures. In 2018, 5.4 per cent of the European population under 15 years of age were foreign-born and in many European countries, the percentage of children with a migration background is rising (Eurostat 2018). EU-wide, around one in five of people aged 15-34 have a migrant background, meaning that they are either foreign-born or have at least one foreign-born parent. Thus, European youth deal constantly with cultural, national and ethnic differences in their daily lives. At the same time, many teachers feel ill-prepared to teach diverse classrooms and migration is often dealt with as a side-topic in school curricula.

When writing the proposal, our hope was that TIES will allow to bring research to schools across Europe and contribute to a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding among school students of what drives migration and how it shapes societies across Europe and the world. Migration is a topic which has been at the epicentre of political tensions and heated public debates in European societies for many years. Yet, much of what many people think about migration is actually wrong: For example, it is not the poorest who migrate. Closed borders do not automatically lead to less migration. Migrants do not steal jobs. Refugees are not powerless victims. People can feel connected to different contexts and countries at the same time. We do not live in an era of unprecedented migration. People have always been mobile to lead a nomadic life, to explore the planet, to flee persecution and violence, to find work or to pursue education.

We hope that TIES and its open-access modules will change this gap.

Stay tuned and follow us on our website once it goes online and help us by sharing this post with teachers who might be interested in participating.