Our 2016 Human Rights Fellows have been selected from four University of California campuses this year. Since 1994, the Human Rights Center has enabled 295 students to work with human rights organizations worldwide. The fellowships are made possible by Dr. Thomas J. White.
Thanh Mai Bercher
Undergraduate, School of Public Health and Global Poverty and Practice Minor, UC Berkeley
Project Hope (West Bank)
Thanh Mai will be working with the community-based organization Project Hope to standardize mental health activities for young people who attend their center. Students from the temporary settlement and surrounding refugee camp come to the center for arts and skills-based workshops, engaging in community discussions that allow them to address trauma and prepare for the future. She will be incorporating her previous experience as a mentor and researcher to work with staff and determine which activities are the most successful with the children, as well as standardize a program for young people working to seek employment and immigration status through the Israeli political system. Read Thanh Mai’s dispatch from the field.
Shikha Silliman Bhattacharjee, JD
Ph.D. student, Jurisprudence and Social Policy program, School of Law, UC Berkeley
South Asia Women’s Fund (India)
Shikha will partner with South Asia Women’s Fund (SAWF) to develop a litigation guide to equip lawyers and advocates in India with key judicial precedents under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 and Emigration Act, 1983. This guide will address rights of women migrating within India; women migrants to India, particularly from Bangladesh and Nepal; and women migrants from India and will be used by SAWF partners as well as a broad network of women’s organizations.
Tria Blu Wakpa
Ph.D. candidate, Department of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
Wanbli Wiconi Tipi (Eagle Life Center), Youth Wellness and Renewal Juvenile Detention Center (Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota)
Tria will work with Wanbli Wiconi Tipi, the tribal juvenile hall founded in 2005, to assess how the logics of the facility and its forms of Lakota socialization depart from those of former Indian boarding schools. Today Native American educational institutions operate in the shadow of Indian boarding schools, which emerged in the late 19th century to assimilate Native youth and portrayed Native practices as deviant to justify their projects. Tria will analyze the data that she gathers through interviews, questionnaires, and a creative writing class conducted with incarcerated youth to provide a presentation to the community with recommendations for curriculum.
Ph.D. student, Department of Political Science, UC Berkeley
Melissa will work with Prolepsis, an institute that conducts public health and medical research and supports health education, to evaluate whether receiving varying information about rights and service access for Syrian refugees and other vulnerable migrants, impacts their willingness to exercise those rights and access those services and their perceptions of the host state. The findings of this research project will provide insight into how vulnerable migration influences state-society relations.
B.A. ’16, Peace and Conflict Studies program, UC Berkeley
Promundo (São Paulo, Brazil)
Suzanne will be working with a human rights organization in Brazil to examine factors of vulnerability that cause women and children to become involved in human trafficking, including geographic location, age, race, and income. She will be researching the influence of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games on rates of human trafficking in tourist destination cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Learn about Suzanne’s work in her blog.
M.A. student, Social Documentation program, UC Santa Cruz
Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability (San Joaquin Valley, CA)
Samuel will partner with the non-profit Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability to produce a documentary focusing on the lack of access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water for disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley as part of his thesis for a master’s degree in Social Documentation at UC Santa Cruz.
J.D. student (1L), School of Law, UC Berkeley
Human Rights Watch (New York)
Mary will be working with the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch in New York to research human rights abuses in the region. This research will contribute to Human Rights Watch’s annual world report.
Ellen Darius, RDH, MSDH
M.P.H. student, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley
San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership (San Francisco, CA)
Ellen is working with the San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership that unites the city’s Department of Public Health, UC San Francisco, the University of the Pacific and several community organizations in an effort to address children’s oral health disparities in San Francisco. Oral health is essential to overall health and wellbeing. However, it is generally neglected both locally and globally. This qualitative study will assess barriers to care for low-income children in San Francisco Chinatown.
Margaret Mary Downey
M.S.W./Ph.D. student, School of Social Welfare, UC Berkeley
Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA)
Margaret Mary will partner with Homeless Prenatal Program (HPP), a San Francisco-based agency that seeks to provide area families with housing, substance use/abuse, and mental health and wellness services, focusing on supporting the transformative time created by pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. Margaret Mary will work with HPP’s Wellness Center, which provides health and wellness services to pregnant and newly parenting families, to conduct a needs assessment and program redevelopment of its doula program.
J.D. student (2L), School of Law, UCLA
Center for Constitutional Rights (New York)
To propel the United States into compliance with its international legal obligations, international human rights law (IHRL) campaigns must collaborate closely with social justice movements. The goal of Cristian’s project will be to study how CCR does this through its IHRL litigation. Currently, CCR’s human rights docket includes a challenge to abuse by private military contractors at Abu Ghraib; an Alien Tort Statute case in support of LGBTI Ugandan organizers; challenges to repression of people for speech criticizing Israeli government policy against Palestine; and advocacy in support of accountability and reparations for the Iraq War. While at CCR, Cristian will study how the organization measures the impact its cases are having on the social movements to which they are related.
Ph.D. student, School of Social Welfare, UC Berkeley
Nari Gunjan (Women’s Voice) (India)
The mission of the Nari Gunjan in Bihar State in India is to socio-politically, economically, and physically empower the Scheduled caste girls and women, particularly the Musahar, through the medium of education. Founded in 1987 by Sudha Varghese, the organization is providing elementary education as well as vocational and life skills training to over 3,000 girls at alternative educational centers in 40 villages. Woojin will assist Nari Gunjan in creating a rights-based monitoring and evaluation framework to access the developmental and human rights impact of the program. Read Woojin’s dispatch from the field.
M.A. student, College of Environmental Design Department of City and Regional Planning, UC Berkeley
All Pakistan Alliance for Katchi Abadis (Islamabad, Pakistan)
Zahra will spend the summer in Islamabad, Pakistan, working with the All Pakistan Alliance for Katchi Abadis, a body of informal settlement dwellers resisting arbitrary evictions and homelessness. The Alliance’s mission is to raise rights awareness, provide social, political and legal education, foster peaceful mobilization for housing and land reform, and encourage greater public participation in the government’s decision-making. As part of the Alliance, Zahra will participate in a survey of all katchi abadis in Islamabad, and support the communications team liaise with the media and other allies across Pakistan.
Master’s ’16, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley
Investigative Reporting Program, UC Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
Laura will work with the Investigative Reporting Program this summer, focusing on the impact of charging juveniles as adults in California. She will produce audio stories about the harm caused by this policy, the wide variation in the numbers by location, and the disproportionate impact that sentencing young people as adults has on black and Latino communities. She is a 2016 graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, where she focused on audio storytelling.
Ph.D. student, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Berkeley
Megan will be working with Resonate, an organization based in Rwanda that conducts storytelling for leadership workshops with women. She will be helping Resonate improve monitoring and evaluation and data collection. Ultimately, she will help Resonate move towards a full randomized control trial to rigorously assess the impact of their workshops on women’s ability to participate equally in household and community decision-making processes.
Ph.D. student, Department of Political Science, UC Berkeley
Refugee Law Project, Makerere University (Uganda)
Adam will document episodes of violence and forced population displacement during the country’s civil wars. The findings will be memorialized in the National Memory and Peace Documentation Centre, which uses information to support national reconciliation in Uganda through the preservation of national records and memory. Adam’s research will contribute to RLP’s efforts to promote dialogue and coexistence among communities while benefitting posterity through history education.
Ph.D. student, Department of Geography, UC Berkeley
UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (Dakar, Senegal)
Brittany’s research explores security interventions in the West African Sahel and traces the interconnections between postcolonial governance, contemporary counterterrorism efforts, and histories of ecological vulnerability. Her summer research will evaluate the expansion and efficacy of transnational policing and law enforcement regimes in countries throughout the Sahel.
M.P.P. student, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley
FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
Marko will be working with the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights to support their Roma Rights projects. The FXB Center’s Romani projects aim to address human rights violations, increase community participation in policy change and research, provide evidence of prejudice and injustice, and raise overall awareness. Marko will use his skills in community-based participatory methods, mixed methods research, policy analysis, and personal connection to the Roma Rights projects to translate the community participatory research into strategic policy action.
J.D. student (2L), School of Law, UC Berkeley
American Civil Liberties Union (Texas)
Natalie will work on impact litigation, legislative advocacy, and public education that furthers civil rights. While the ACLU of Texas works on a wide range of issue areas relating to civil liberties, the organization is currently litigating several cases regarding law enforcement misconduct near the border. Natalie will also research how rights education and competency relate to the protection of persons from arbitrary arrest and detention in border communities.
Ph.D. student, Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley
Native American Land Conservancy (Indio, CA)
Julia will work with the Native American Land Conservancy, an intertribal organization that is dedicated to preserving and protecting Native American sacred lands in Southeastern California. Julia will be reviewing and revising the curriculum for Learning Landscapes, a cultural heritage program for Native American youth; evaluating ethnobotanical and historical resources in the Old Woman Mountains Preserve in the Eastern Mojave Desert; and coordinating with local landowners regarding the NALC’s acquisition of a cultural landscape near Twenty-Nine Palms, CA.
M.A. student, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego
American Bar Association (ABA)—Rule of Law Initiative (Singapore)
With the support of American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, Dickson will undertake a study on public attitudes toward the repeal of Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual conduct between men. Using the results of a random national survey conducted recently, Dickson will engage in quantitative research and analysis to identify patterns among the Singaporean public in support of/against the de-criminalization of gay men. The findings of the survey will in turn be used to inform local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups for their work in advancing equality for the community in Singapore.