Cultivating the Next Generation of Economic and Social Rights Practitioners and Scholars

Artist Credit to Izabela Markova,

For nearly two decades, UConn’s Human Rights Institute has steadily built a Program on Economic & Social Rights that influences global scholarly and policy work on issue of poverty, inequality, environmental justice, and other challenges at the heart of human wellbeing. Upwards of 60 faculty, graduate students, and affiliates from across North America have collaborated steadily over years on research while expanding knowledge and concrete policy action. We meet monthly to share research. Members of our network of Economic and Social Rights Group (ESRG) participants have produced hundreds of articles, books, datasets, and policy tools since our founding, and have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in related grants. Our wider ESRG listserv reaches hundreds of people globally.

Among our greatest contributions has been fostering the growth of the dynamic scholars and policy advocates profiled below. They are some of the most exciting fresh voices in the field of economic and social rights. These colleagues work on aspects of economic rights at large research universities as well as smaller, liberal arts colleges nationwide, or serve in leadership roles in professional associations and policy organizations. Some of them received their doctorates at UConn (indicated by an asterisk*). Others have been involved with ESRG either as graduate student affiliates at peer institutions, or as workshop participants while in the postdoctoral phase, or through mentored research with our ESRG faculty.

The group is highly interdisciplinary and engaged on work on topics ranging from internet access to migration policy to public opinion on climate change. They are political scientists, geographers, economists, and social workers. They use research techniques ranging from statistical analysis to ethnographic interviewing, to geographical information systems analysis and web-crawling. They carry out research on economic rights challenges globally – from water crises in Flint (Michigan), to fair trade coffee cooperatives in Central America, to women’s political empowerment programs in Ghana and Lebanon. They are crafting concrete policy tools, such as databases on constitutional guarantees for environmental rights, that are expanding the possibilities for economic rights protection and fulfillment globally:

These fresh voices in economic rights scholarship and advocacy are a reason for hope in hard times. They reflect the strength of HRI’s Economic & Social Rights Program as a vehicle for cultivating a pipeline of talented professionals.

Learn more about them below:

*Jack Barry–  Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Public Interest Communications, U-Florida

*Kristy Belton– Director of Professional Development, International Studies Association

*Salil Benegal Assistant Professor of Political Science, DePauw University

*Ben Carbonetti – Director, Human Rights Program, Trinity College

*Tina Chiarelli-HelminiakAssociate Professor of Social Work, West Chester University

Chad Clay – Associate Professor and Director, Center for the Study of Global Issues, U-Georgia

*C. Patrick Heidkamp – Chair, Environment, Geography & Marine Sciences, Southern Connecticut State University

*Chris Jeffords -Associate Professor of Economics, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and incoming at Villanova

*Liz Kaletski -Associate Professor of Economics, Ithaca College

Brendan Mark -Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Rhode Island

Leslie Marshall – Associate Director, Center for Sustainable Business, U-Pittsburgh

Ana Maria Sanchez Rodriguez -CAROLINE Fellow, Maynooth University Dept of Psychology

*Corinne Tagliarina -Director, Human Rights Advocacy Program, Utica College

Rachel Wahl -Associate Professor Curry School of Education, University of Virginia


For additional information on the Program on Economic and Social Rights, please contact Shareen Hertel ( or Prakash Kashwan ( or visit: