For the full interview, please visit the EuropeNow journal here.
“In this interview, Michael “Mike” Niconchuk reflects on some of the intimate lessons he has learned on healing and coping from refugees he has developed friendships with over the last five years working in post-conflict and displaced communities in Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. He has a particular focus on young people at risk of violence and conflict with the law. For three years, after the start of the conflict in Syria, Mike worked as an Emergency Response Coordinator in Za’atri Refugee Camp in Jordan, leading various projects for violence reduction, youth leadership, and alternative education. Since then, Mike has worked with refugees across various stages of their migration journey—from Greece, to Germany, to Canada, and the United States—conducting research on the links between forced displacement, stress, social cognition, and social behavior.
He also shares insights he has gained from his empirical social cognition and neuroendocrinology research into the biological impacts of subjective belonging and violent extremism, while studying as a recent US-UK Fulbright scholar at University College London.
Mike continues to pursue innovative research that combines methods from neuroscience, peace building, and conflict reduction. Currently, he works as a consultant for various organizations in the US, Europe, and the Middle East, using a behavioral science lens to design and evaluate programs for violence prevention and psychosocial wellbeing. In 2016, Mike was named an Innovation Fellow at Beyond Conflict, where he continues to develop his research on the psychology and neurobiology of displacement, violence, and marginalization.
I recently accompanied Mike, an alumnus of our Institute, to the Island of Lesvos, Greece, to participate in a Tällberg Foundation workshop on the underlying cause and potential long-term consequences of Europe’s refugee crisis, “Clash of Civilizations?”
—Sherman Teichman for EuropeNow”