SAFE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Kara Dempsey

Dr. Kara Dempsey, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Planning
Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) Fund Recipient: Fall 2022

Project: "Best Practices for Refugee Resettlement: International Field Research Project"

Dr. Dempsey received a Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) grant to travel and conduct extensive field research through New Zealand's refugee camps as part of her off-campus scholarly assignment (OCSA). "I was able to write and publish two edited collections on refugee and international forced migration from this field research," said Dempsey.

The data that Dempsey collected while in New Zealand served as the foundation for her new book, titled "Making and Unmaking Refugees: Geopolitics of Social Ordering and Struggle within the Global Refugee Regime." The book—Dempsey's second—was published by Routledge in March.

"New Zealand has a unique refugee policy that is considered more supportive and 'humane' for refugees, and the U.S. and Canada are considering modeling future refugee framework on this system. The government of New Zealand also works closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), so I was able to collaborate with that agency as well," said Dempsey, whose research foci include nationalism and geopolitics, peacebuilding and social justice, and international forced migration.

Additionally, Dempsey shared how the data she collected during her fieldwork will be included in scholarly publications co-written with undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Geography and Planning, "Students are currently geospatially analyzing international passage routes that could be safer pathways for women and children who are applying for refugee status leaving war-torn countries, such as Syria and Afghanistan, and ethnic cleansing, such as in Myanmar," she explained.


About the SAFE Fund
Initially endowed by Hughlene and Bill Frank, the College of Arts and Sciences Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) Fund provides resources that can be used to support undergraduate, graduate and faculty experiences. The SAFE Fund provides funding for college priorities and opportunities that arise throughout the year. These unrestricted funds support student and faculty travel, publication support for faculty and student research opportunities. Learn more at:

About the Department of Geography and Planning
The Department of Geography and Planning promotes the understanding of the spatial dimensions of human behavior within the physical and cultural systems of the earth, and the role of planning in achieving improvement in those systems. The department offers degrees in geography and in community and regional planning. Learn more at

Written by Lauren Andersen
October 10, 2023

Dr. Kara Dempsey
Published: Oct 10, 2023 7:55am