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Cambridge Emergency and Displacement Group (CEDG)

The Cambridge Emergency and Displacement Group (CEDG)

The interdisciplinary Cambridge Emergency and Displacement Group (CEDG) brings together existing research groups, projects and individuals working on displacement, emergency relief, on refugee camps and holding centres globally, particularly but not only in the Global South.  It aims to draw upon extensive research experience of academics and graduates working with displaced, migrant and refugee communities and individuals and with international humanitarian organisations, public and private sector aid givers and national and local government agencies so as to address the pressing challenges associated with global human movement. 

The group focuses on the need to understand how emergency situations and forms of relief as well as the creation of new sites and spaces affect the aspirations and opportunities of individuals and groups’ livelihoods and their ability to control their own lives.  In that context, the group aims to generate new strategic initiatives which will support displaced communities involving the use of new construction material, new architectural approaches, new digital, audio/visual technologies and or new educational and health programmes. The aim is to support these communities ‘in waiting’ with the power to build viable livelihoods, shelters, functional and sustainable learning environments at the same time as facilitating new modes of civic engagement, belonging and new prospects for leading productive lives.

The focus of research collaborations is to construct, in a holistic integrated way, the needs and values of migrant communities themselves, to contribute to humanitarian efforts internationally and to find innovative solutions to the consequences of every changing global human movements and the new social orders they create.

The first phase of this group involves finding ways to collaborate across disciplines and to identify common themes, regional interests and existing external partnerships. Through a series of meetings, members of the group have identified a variety of important conceptual agendas around the notion of ‘space’, instability, the importance of thinking about ‘tomorrow’, the power of visual and digital literacies, above all the need to establish partnerships with displaced and refugee communities.   

Initial presentations by group members have identified common research interests and the possibility of shared research bids around the architectural conditions for mental health, applying existing educational strategies around critical, creative thinking to migrant contexts, and the uses of digital/visual literacy to explore the notion of ‘waiting’.

 Convenor: Emeritus Professor Madeleine Arnot (Education)

Participants: This is an interdisciplinary group with over 40 participants from different engineering departments, various architectural units, language education, design and technology education, disability and gender education studies, digital technology and educational technology, middle eastern studies, sociology/politics, history, psychology, social anthropology, One Health and public health. Please find the contact details of our members here.


NoPlaceLikeHome 05947 small No Place Like Home? Policy Workshop on refugees and forced displacement. Full report found here

Collaborative architectural summer school for for students at the University of Cambridge and the Technical University in Berlin

News story here

Event here



Learning Passport Collaboration between Cambridge and UNICEF

News story here


CEDG Sub-Groups:

Sustainable Shelter Group (SSG)

The Sustainable Shelter Group (SSG) aims to bring together all those across the University whose research engages with humanitarian shelter, with the aim of:

To share shelter expertise/ knowledge within the University and pursue new interdisciplinary shelter research through grants/ collaborations.

To bring the range of rigorous shelter work being undertaken in the University to an international audience so it can have as wide an impact as possible.

To foster external research and practical collaborations with NGOs and other entities providing humanitarian shelter, so on-the-ground humanitarian shelter work is fully informed by rigorous research and experience, and vice-versa.


SSG is currently gathering resources and feedback on how best to structure its activities, so please contact us if you would like to be involved as a partnering collaborator either in research or practice. 

 It is currently coordinated by:

Mark E Breeze (Founding SSG Chair) is a Harvard-trained architect, an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker, and the Director of Studies in Architecture at St.John's College, Cambridge.  His design research and practice explores the theories and realities of shelter.  He recently completed his post-doctoral research on the Architectures of Displacement at the University of Oxford Refugee Studies Centre.  His feature documentary 'Shelter Without Shelter' will be released in 2020, as will his co-edited book 'Structures of Protection' (Berghahn, New York).  

Jennifer George (SSG Co-Chair) is a researcher in Architectural Engineering.  She researches the processes behind the design of shelter projects in displacement situations, including both natural disasters and conflict scenarios. The primary output of her research is The Shelter Schema - a software-enabled tool providing ease of access to information to help direct shelter projects following disaster situations and enabling information flows between organisations during these shelter projects.



Festival of Ideas 2019 - Finding Shelter, Defining Shelter Event report here