How can science help refugees to successfully make a new home in Europe? In July, Horizon examines what we mean when we talk about integration and how research can help refugees build a better future. We speak to Dr Dominik Hangertner at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, about defining integration in order to measure it, the impact of current asylum policies and how big data can help resettlement decisions. We examine how researchers are looking into specific programmes that schools can establish to support adolescent refugees and how media literacy is one such area that can empower young newcomers. We also look at how longer-term mental health needs are being addressed and we speak to researchers and scientists who came to the EU as asylum seekers about the challenges of starting over in a new country.
Just months after Dr Ahmad Al Ajlan begun a new job as a university lecturer in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, he was forced to flee his country for Europe. When he arrived in Germany in March 2015, after several months of travelling, he was placed in a number of camps before being allocated a cramped apartment with five other refugees.
They are fleeing war, famine and persecution, risking treacherous journeys across deserts and seas in search of safety. But helping refugees and asylum seekers to cope with the psychological scars caused by their experiences could help them adjust to life in their new homes.
For a teenage refugee starting a new life in Europe, going to school and using digital media form a big part of navigating an unfamiliar society. But appropriate interventions at school and online could help them feel more at home in a new country.
In the last few years, the integration of refugees into European societies has become an urgent issue. Since 2015, nearly 4 million people have applied for asylum in the EU and many are now beginning to make new lives here. What does it mean to become integrated into a new society? How can it be achieved? And are current policies helping or hindering? We spoke to Dr Dominik Hangartner from the Immigration Policy Lab at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, about what the evidence tells us about successful integration. Here are five takeaways.
As commutes dropped during coronavirus lockdowns, many of Europe’s city-dwellers breathed cleaner air. In July, Horizon takes a look closer look at our air pollution problem, what it is, how it affects human health and whether now is the time to make the move to greener transport. We spoke to social epidemiologist Dr Basile Chaix about what it will take to capitalise on the post-coronavirus calls for greener cities to really change our urban spaces – and transport habits. We dissect the properties of particulate matter to understand how characteristics such as particle size or number relate to toxicity, and what they do to human cells. With wildfires known to strike particularly in the summer, we look at how scientists are tracking this lesser-known source of air pollution to better understand the impact on human health. And we find out how a soybean-related asthma outbreak in 1980s Spain is influencing air pollution research today.
In June, against a backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, a climate emergency and an uncertain future, Horizon takes a look at anxiety. Are we becoming more anxious? What do we really know about the condition and who suffers from it? And how can we best treat it? We speak to anxiety disorder expert Professor David Baldwin about when anxiety turns from a normal response into a long-term problem and what we know – and don’t – about why this happens. We take a look at one particularly vulnerable group – teenagers – to understand how anxiety affects them and how they can best be treated. We explore the link between anxiety and our awareness of bodily sensations to understand, for example, why breathing can calm the mind, and we also talk to the researchers who believe the key to improving anxiety therapies is to look at how different people respond when under threat.
Building façades and pavements in Dutch and Italian cities are being turned into smart, energy-harvesting surfaces and equipped with sensors to power, heat and cool spaces and even monitor roads.
People in cities experienced cleaner air during lockdowns, but a permanent shift to greener modes of transport and habits is ‘extremely complex to achieve’ given how much space is devoted to cars and the groups resisting change, says Dr Basile Chaix, who studies the health trade-offs we make as we travel.
Everyday urban spaces can help heat and cool our homes.
The red planet may be our best bet for finding out whether we’re alone in the universe.
Dr Basile Chaix says mobility changes are 'extremely complex' to achieve.