This module discovers what migration is and enables us to trace our own migration history


"I am a French Catholic with Armenian roots; my wife is a Protestant Swede… I have an Algerian brother in law who is a Muslim and a Jewish nephew. We get along because we do not argue about the religion of the others, but rather respect them." Charles Aznavour (*1924), French actor and singer

People have always been forced to leave their homes to go to new ones. The reasons people set out are very different. The fact is that something fundamental is missing from life at the place where you currently live. Be it money, security, adventure or love.

Whether you are yourself a migrant or have lived in the same place for generations, an understanding of migration counts as part of a general education. The topic has heated up politically in many countries and certain words make emotions run high at every bar table. In many countries in Europe or the United States fears about migration are used in elections. Because of this, it is worth taking a step back and looking at the issue more closely.

Migration has always been a central element of human adaptation to environmental conditions and social challenges. In fact, the history of mankind is a history of migration.

After completing this module, you should see the complexity of the subject a little more clearly, be able to understand the diversity of migration and its transformation. Even though people have been emigrating for millennia, the dynamics and of course the destinations and countries of emigration have changed – as has the way of emigrating.

Over 2000 years ago the Roman philosopher and poet Lucretius dealt with the issue. In his eyes, the world was a place of ever-moving human bodies and mechanical things. In Lucretius' times one could only reach Austria with difficulty by crossing the Alps on foot or by horse, you can now board a plane in Rome and two hours later be in Vienna. The options of travel have grown, as well as the pace with which one can get from one place to another. The sociologist John Urry has found that people in Central Europe today move five times as much as even just 60 years ago.

In retrospect, history shows that important developments are related to migration: the migrations in Europe, the great migrations to escape extreme climate change or the "discovery" of the New World.


  • 17 pages
  • Opening and closing questions

Estimated length of the module: approx. 4 hours

  • Developed by: Michaela Krimmer, Südwind Agentur