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ARTWORKS: Storytelling that Informs Policy

7 June, 2023 @ 16:00 19:00

Displacement is the product of numerous systems. While often documented at critical junctures; such as familial separation, ports of entry, or moments of distress, the reality for many displaced people is a web of convoluted and prolonged governmental, geopolitical, and legal structures. As issues of displacement are increasingly viewed through the lens of cycle-based media, these experiences often go unseen and neglected, forcing migrants and asylum seekers to develop their own methods of support, visibility, and influence over policy.

ART WORKS Projects, in partnership with the U.S.-based think tank, the Wilson Center’s Refugee and Forced Displacement Initiative (RAFDI), presents Storytelling that Informs Policy: Addressing Refugees and Forced Displacement. This symposium will feature an artist talk by the photographers, a panel discussion, guest speakers from partner organization, and an installation of images. All which explore how visual media and tools can open up dialogue and inform new perspectives on understanding the root causes of forced displacement and where in the ecosystem each of our organizations can play a role in identifying new and creative solutions to addressing a quickly growing global displacement challenge.

4:00 – 6:00pm, Symposium

6:00 – 7:00pm, Closing Reception


  • Bassam Khabieh is an internationally recognized Syrian photojournalist who reported stories of the Syria conflict while working for Reuters. He was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal and was a fellow at the Oak Institute for Human Rights at Colby College. Khabieh has worked with ART WORKS Projects on a number of exhibitions and projects including: “The Children of Syria,” “After Syria – A New Generation’s Pathway to Finding Home,” and his recent project includes the publishing of a book of his work, “Witnesses to War: The Children of Syria.”
  • Liselot van Zantvoort works at Justice & Peace Netherlands, a human rights organization in the Hague. Liselot coordinates a national network called Samen Hier, in which Dutch citizens collaborate with their local government to create a safe pathway to their communities for refugees residing in camps outside of Europe. During her studies, Liselot did research on the ineffectiveness of Dutch migration policy – its inhumane management made her driven to work on its improvement.
  • Per Heggenes is the CEO of IKEA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Stichting INGKA Foundation, the owner of the Swedish home furnishings company IKEA. As CEO, Heggenes sets and drives the Foundation’s funding and innovation strategies and is a tireless advocate for children living in some of the world’s poorest communities. In 2019, Heggenes was appointed by the UN Secretary General to join the High Level Panel on Internal Displacement with the goal of developing durable solutions to protracted internal displacement. Previously, Heggenes held global and regional leadership roles for the shipping and logistics company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller.
  • John Thon Majok (event moderator) is the Director of Refugee and Forced Displacement Initiative (RAFDI) at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars where he is also the Deputy Director of Development and Senior Director of Grants Management. Before the Wilson Center, Majok was a contractor at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State; Program Officer at the Council of American Overseas Research Centers; and Program Coordinator at the Academy for Educational DevelopmentA former refugee from South Sudan, Majok’s perspectives on forced displacement are informed by lived experience and scholarship. He has lived for 13 years in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya before he was resettled in the U.S. in 2001.