Fulbright Specialist Provides Refugee Crisis Assistance

Fulbright Specialist Provides Refugee Crisis Assistance

Dr. Joseph Bock, a US Fulbright Specialist to Greece, was recently awarded a grant to work with and assist the Municipality of Athens (Mayor's office) on developing a plan to better handle and respond to the influx of irregular migrants and refugees. Dr. Bock is Director, PhD in International Conflict Management Program and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science & International Affairs at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, Georgia.

This is a great example of Fulbright's relevance in sharing knowledge to address immediate challenges facing the world today. Dr. Bock worked with the Municipality of Athens and its Refugee Committee. During Phase I of his time in Athens, Dr. Bock worked as one of a team of three to develop a plan on how the City can respond and prepare for future migrant and refugee arrivals. The plan laid out an overall strategy with which to address the crisis, recommended an organizational structure, and made suggestions about how to maintain security while also addressing humanitarian needs. The plan identified challenges especially related to "irregular migrants" who are neither likely to apply nor be granted political asylum. He also visited the island of Lesvos to witness the challenges facing incoming migrants and refugees.

During Phase II, Dr. Bock researched various options being considered by the Municipality. He investigated how microenterprise development could help alleviate joblessness. He explored ways the City can put to use its vacant buildings. He engaged with people both within Athens and elsewhere in Europe on how to use the digital mapping platform, Crowdmap, to prevent violence against and by migrants and refugees and to optimize the use of humanitarian aid. Moreover, he developed a concept paper on how Athens can use its international visibility due to the migrant/refugee crisis to raise venture capital for economic development.

Dr. Bock also spent time in Port of Piraeus where he spoke with incoming migrants and refugees who just arrived from Greek islands. He involved his students and a fellow faculty member at Kennesaw State University to research how to develop a system using crowdsourcing to enhance early identification of migrants and refugees at sea who are in distress.

About Dr. Bock

Dr. Bock's humanitarian work has included directing Catholic Relief Services' programs in Pakistan and Jerusalem/West Bank/Gaza Strip, and overseeing programs in Bosnia, Croatia, Guinea, Iraq, Kosovo, Liberia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Pakistan, Rwanda, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Thailand, and Uganda while serving as Vice President at American Refugee Committee. Dr. Bock has been a consultant on violence prevention with the World Bank and a consultant with The Asia Foundation on conflict management and democratic governance, providing support in Thailand, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. He has authored or co-authored articles in various peer-reviewed journals including Political Geography, Information Technology for Development, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Information Technology & Politics, and Journal of Refugee Studies. He is the author of three books. His most recent, The Technology of Non-Violence: Social Media and Violence Prevention, was published by MIT Press in 2012.