Date of Graduation

Spring 5-15-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Marco Tavanti

Second Advisor

Lindsay Gifford


With the global trend of massive population displacement only expected to rise in the years to come, it will be more important than ever to understand how to successfully integrate large populations. Using Germany as a case study in the aftermath of the refugee crisis, this paper looks at the unique and important ways in which German grassroots organizations supporting refugees are contributing to successful integration, within that country’s larger aid ecosystem. Participants in this project, which was conducted in Berlin, Germany, included ten refugees, six grassroots organizations, one German volunteer, one social enterprise, one international non-governmental organization (NGO), a PhD candidate studying refugee shelters, two professors at Freie University, and a researcher at the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration. Results suggest these German grassroots organizations supporting refugees bridge a gap left by the government and other support actors, especially in the realm of social interconnection. Embedded in the community and using an egalitarian approach, grassroots organizations supporting refugees act as social connectors, helping refugees integrate into the community, while activating civil society to participate in “the two-way process” of integration. Although the results suggest that grassroots organizations’ support of refugees is not a sufficient substitute for the services and support offered by other aid actors, like the German government and NGOs, they are essential to promoting successful, sustainable integration and are worthy of additional recognition, research, and funding.