Prof. Alexander Betts


Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs
University of Oxford

In media and in public debate, refugees are routinely portrayed as a burden. Alexander Betts explores ways societies might empower refugees rather than pushing them to the margins and provides actionable solutions proven to benefit refugees as well as host countries and businesses. Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs and Fellow of Green-Templeton College at the University of Oxford, Betts is also the director of its Refugee Studies Centre (RSC), the world’s leading refugee research institution.

Betts and his work are garnering international attention. Recently named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, he is an engaging and powerful speaker. His TED talk, titled “Our Refugee System is Failing,” received rave reviews – for provocative content and performance. His new book, “Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System,” (Penguin, April 2017) further explores ways to improve outcomes for refugees and host countries. Betts was also named to the Thinkers50 2017 Radar list of scholars most likely to shape the future.

Oxford’s youngest British professor since World War II, his research is focused on the politics and economics of refugees. He also founded the Humanitarian Innovation Project (HIP) with an initial aim of exploring the role of technology, innovation and the private sector in refugee assistance. The project has undertaken pioneering work on Refugee Economies, developing cutting-edge thinking on how the conceptualize a people-centered approach to humanitarian innovation. The project also led to the creation of the annual Humanitarian Innovation Conference. In addition to many academic publications, Betts has written for Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, and the Guardian, and appeared regularly on the BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN. He has worked for UNHCR and has served as consultant to a range of international organizations, including OCHA, UNICEF, UNDP, and the World Bank.