A proposal for a value sensitive design approach to modelling the refugee chain

C.G. Boshuijzen-van Burken

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


The world currently faces high levels of refugees. By the end of 2016 there were 22.5 million refugees (http://www.unhcr.org/5943e8a34.pdf) across the globe. Amongst the main countries of asylum for refugees were Germany, Italy, Turkey and Islamic Republic of Iran (http://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2016/). Hosting countries experience several challenges in terms of logistics for refugees. The main reason is because the influx of refugees is not nicely distributed over time, capacity to host refugees at fixed places is limited, and procedures to either grant them a status or send them back have unknown length (Jensen & Hertz, 2016). Creating an efficient logistics procedure is very difficult since a high amount of flexibility (being able to cope with varying sizes of refugee streams, changing places, length of stay) is needed, as well as robustness (when refugee camps are closed or other means of support are suddenly unavailable). Note that there are different levels of efficiency. Daily processes have to be done efficiently (food, sleep, bathing, etc.), but also setting up language classes, sports activities and education facilities for children. Although many countries do their utmost to facilitate this process, there remains a risk of ‘protraction’, which means that a refugee is getting trapped for decades in the refugee migration and asylum process (Frydenlund & Padilla, 2017; Vernon-Bido, Frydenlund, Padilla, & Earnest, 2017) and another risk is that hosting countries lose societal support for supporting refugees (Oltermann, 2016).We approach the problem through an ethically oriented agent-based approach in which agents represent the different stakeholders and support organizations in the refugee process (Hiel, Aldewereld, & Dignum, 2011). This approach of modelling should give right to the different perspectives, rights, ethical concerns and values of each stakeholder. Simulations serve as a means of communication between the stakeholders showing them the concerns and potential clashes between values of other stakeholders and what are possible solutions involving the cooperation of several parties. An adapted version of the Value Sensitive Design method will be used to integrate issues of ethical importance in a systematic way into the logistical model. VSD is a tripartite design methodology, which implies conceptual, empirical and technical investigations, employed iteratively (Friedman, Kahn, & Borning, 2006). Many classifications of values have been proposed by several authors, see for example the Handbook of Ethics, Values, and Technological Design (van den Hoven, Vermaas, & van de Poel, 2015). Examples of values are privacy, responsibility, safety, freedom, sustainability, equality. We propose a different, more holistic approach to values, by using Dooyeweerd’s theory of modal aspects (Dooyeweerd, 1969) as a means to systematically map different values of the stakeholders. It distinguishes for example economic value, juridical value, social value, psychological value, religious value, moral value and aesthetic value. This project aims to contribute theoretically to Value Sensitive Design research in two ways: (i) by using Dooyeweerd’s theory of modal aspects to create a novel and systematic overview of different values and (ii) to apply Value Sensitive Design to the case of Agent Based Modelling and social simulations, which is novel. This project aims to contribute to society at large, by creating a tool for policy makers which should inform decision concerning humanitarian logistics in an ethically informed manner.ReferencesDooyeweerd, H. (1969). A New Critique of Theoretical Thought,The General Theory of the Modal Spheres (2nd ed., Vol. 2). The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.Friedman, B., Kahn, P., & Borning, A. (2006). Value sensitive design and information systems. In P. Zhang & D. Galletta (Eds.), Human-Computer Interaction in Management Information Systems: Foundations (pp. 348–372). Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.Frydenlund, E., & Padilla, J. J. (2017). Modeling the Impact of Protraction on Refugee Identity. In D. Lee, Y.-R. Lin, N. Osgood, & R. Thomson (Eds.), Social, Cultural, and Behavioral Modeling: 10th International Conference, SBP-BRiMS 2017, Washington, DC, USA, July 5-8, 2017, Proceedings (pp. 214–222). Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-60240-0_25Hiel, M., Aldewereld, H., & Dignum, F. (2011). Modeling Warehouse Logistics Using Agent Organizations. In C. Guttmann, F. Dignum, & M. Georgeff (Eds.), Collaborative Agents - Research and Development: International Workshops, CARE@AI09 2009 / CARE@IAT10 2010, Melbourne Australia, December 1, 2009 and Toronto Canada, August 31, 2010, Revised Selected Papers (pp. 14–30). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-22427-0_2Jensen, L.-M., & Hertz, S. (2016). The coordination roles of relief organisations in humanitarian logistics. International Journal of Logistics Research and Applications, 19(5), 465–485. https://doi.org/10.1080/13675567.2015.1124845Oltermann, P. (2016, March 14). Merkel refuses to abandon refugee policy despite election setbacks. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/14/angela-merkel-refuses-to-abandon-refugee-policy-despite-election-setbacksvan den Hoven, J., Vermaas, P. E., & van de Poel, I. (2015). Handbook of ethics, values, and technological design. Springer Netherlands: Imprint: Springer,.Vernon-Bido, D., Frydenlund, E., Padilla, J. J., & Earnest, D. C. (2017). Durable Solutions and Potential Protraction: The Syrian Refugee Case. In Proceedings of the 50th Annual Simulation Symposium (p. 19:1–19:9). San Diego, CA, USA: Society for Computer Simulation International. Retrieved from http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3106388.3106407
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2017
EventInternational Congress on Ethics in Science and Technology: Ethics for All, Science for Development - Convention Center of the National Library , Teheran, Iran, Islamic Republic of
Duration: 4 Dec 20177 Dec 2017
Conference number: 1


ConferenceInternational Congress on Ethics in Science and Technology
Abbreviated titleICEST
CountryIran, Islamic Republic of
Internet address

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    Boshuijzen-van Burken, C. G. (2017). A proposal for a value sensitive design approach to modelling the refugee chain. 501-502. Abstract from International Congress on Ethics in Science and Technology, Teheran, Iran, Islamic Republic of.