Author: Akaslan, Imge

Human Rights Graduate Research Forum

February 8, March 8, & April 12, 2023
2:00pm - 3:30pm
The Dodd Center for Human Rights Lounge

About the Forum:

The Human Rights Graduate Research Forum provides an opportunity for graduate students in any discipline or school doing human rights-related work to receive feedback from peers and faculty in an informal and supportive environment. These forums occur once per month during the academic year. Each session is split between the student researcher's presentation and time reserved for questions and feedback.

We welcome graduate students and faculty from any discipline or school to attend. UConn graduate students doing human rights-related work are encouraged to sign up to discuss their work in a future forum.


Join us!

This series will be hosted in-person. We kindly ask that you register to attend.

All sessions will take place in the lounge of The Dodd Center for Human Rights.


Global Labor Rights Enforcement in Small and Medium-Sized Textile Firms
Wednesday, February 8, 2023 | 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Imge Akaslan

SMEs, enterprises that have 10 to 250 employees, account for two-thirds of all jobs worldwide, yet this significant segment of the global supply chain is heavily under-researched in contemporary scholarship on labor rights and policy approaches to labor rights protection often overlook their unique challenges. Through the in-depth study of SMEs in the Turkish textile industry, this project both advances our understanding of how small enterprises function, and also identifies new actors which influence variation in the enforcement of labor rights standards. Omitting SMEs as an entity leads to underestimation of some subset of actors’ role on enforcement of labor rights. Therefore, one of the main goals of this dissertation is to understand how intermediary actors influence the translation of labor rights norms into labor rights standards. By understanding the incentives of possible translators, we can then shape those incentives to influence the behavior of those translators and potentially improve labor standards in global supply chains. Ultimately, my findings will inform policy dialogues and advocacy efforts aimed at enhancing the human dignity of workers in global supply chains, no matter the size of the firm in which they work.

About Imge Akaslan

Imge AkaslanImge Akaslan is a PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut, Political Science Department. Her dissertation research examines the variation in the enforcement of labor standards in small and medium-sized enterprises and identifies new actors which influence the enforcement of labor standards in global supply chains.  Imge holds a BS in global and international affairs from Middle East Technical University (Turkey) and an MA in political science from Binghamton University (SUNY).

The Electric Vehicle Revolution: From a Human Rights Angle
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 | 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Francesco Rouhana

Electric vehicles (EVs) have evolved rapidly owing to technological advancements and a growing interest in renewable energy to eliminate transportation’s dependency on fossil fuels and mitigate the effects of climate change. While EVs could revolutionize the transportation industry, they could jeopardize social equity and environmental stewardship efforts. Current studies on transportation electrification often fail to evaluate the EV revolution implications in human rights terms. International human rights law provides universally accepted norms, standards, baseline indicators, and modes of inquiry and reporting that could significantly advance and sharpen impact analysis. In this study, we explored the potential human rights implications that EVs pose for individuals and societies throughout their life cycle. Using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights-based treaties as our baseline, we analyzed the existing and likely EVs’ impacts on human rights. We identified potential measures to address human rights violations. Stakeholders (governments, private sectors, civil society) need to work closely together to make the transition to low-carbon transportation more equitable and sustainable.


About Francesco Rouhana

Francesco Rouhana is a Ph.D. student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Connecticut. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and a master’s degree in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Transportation and Urban Planning from Notre Dame University – Louaize, Beirut, Lebanon. His research interests include the resilience of civil infrastructure systems, disaster risk reduction, response, and recovery.


Exclusion and Embrace: Secondary Refugee Students and A Pedagogy of Belonging 
Wednesday, April 12, 2023 | 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Sara Harvel

America has an identity problem. People in America experience degrees of political, social, and economic rights that affect the extent to which they feel included or excluded from the nation. Social and racial hierarchies exist in part because of our settler colonial history, immigration policies, and our narrow perception of who can be American. The problem of exclusion in America is highlighted in how people perceive refugees. Historically, policies and practices communicate a hierarchy of acceptance to refugees that complicates the degree to which they experience membership and belonging. This is especially true for refugee secondary students in public schools.
To refugee secondary students, schools are sites of socialization where they learn cultural norms while establishing a sense of personal identity in a new environment. To refugee secondary students, schools are structures, composed of individual people, that either extend membership or not. These schools can either reproduce social injustices and maintain status quo or push against structural inequities and promote belonging. Research has shown that peer acceptance is one of the most important factors contributing to refugee student sense of belonging. However, many students do not know how to interact with people who are different from themselves. Society needs students to interact and extend belonging to one another across differences, and schools need to teach students how to do it. This study explores the relationship between curriculum, instruction, and community in order to promote a pedagogy of belonging as measured by membership, relationship, and skills. Ultimately, this study may contribute to an analysis of school communities and the varying purposes of education. I also hope to contribute to conversations about migration and education.

About Sara Harvel

Sara HarvelSara Harvel is a doctoral candidate in the School of Education. Her focus is on Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on social studies education and human rights. She taught internationally in Qingdao, China for several years and also did NGO work on the Thai-Myanmar border, focusing on child advocacy and social entrepreneurship. Sara is a graduate assistant with the Neag School of Education and with Dodd Impact. She is interested in human rights education, refugee and immigrant school experiences, teacher education, and school communities.

A Source of Escalation or a Source of Restraint? Whether and How Civil Society Affects Mass Killings

Tuesday, February 7, 2023
2:00pm - 3:30pm
Hybrid Event
Dodd Center for Human Rights - Room 162 & Zoom

About This Event

In this Human Rights Research and Data Hub Workshop, Dr. Evan Perkoski will present his research on state-led mass killings. Why do some state-led mass killings end quickly while others endure for over a decade? And why do some states murder millions of constituents during the course of mass killings, whereas other states seem to retreat from the brink after killing hundreds? A large body of work has focused on the important role played by civil society and non-governmental actors in initiating different forms of rescue, evasion, and assistance in the midst of different cases of mass killings, as well as the political pressure they have applied in bringing about the ends of civil conflicts. Despite many inspiring and hopeful cases of collective action under systems of intense repression, other research finds civil society can accelerate or exacerbate mass killings. In this paper, we test some basic mechanisms that emerge from the literature on the connection between civil society and mass killings, and we find that a complex albeit meaningful relationship exists. We find that, in general, a relatively participatory and autonomous civil society is correlated with shorter mass killings. However, we also find that active civil societies are associated with higher rates of lethality, particularly when those civil society sectors exist in highly unequal polities. Because most mass killings are relatively short, our findings suggest that civil societies in states with uneven access to power are more commonly correlated with longer, deadlier spells of government violence. This conclusion seemingly supports the view of civil society skeptics, at least in highly unequal contexts where mass killings have already begun.

Join Us!

This event will take place in-person
in The Dodd Center for Human Rights.

It will likewise be available online
on Zoom. Please register regardless
of the modality you plan to join.


Evan Perkoski
Assistant Professor
University of Connecticut
Department of Political Science

About Evan Perkoski

Evan Perkoski is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut, and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Krulak Center for Innovation and Future Warfare at the Marine Corps University.

He  studies issues relating to terrorism, insurgency, and violent and nonviolent uprisings. In his book project, he explores the fragmentation of militant organizations (like Al Qaeda) and the conduct and survivability of breakaway splinter groups (like the Islamic State). Some of his other work looks at the onset of mass killings in popular uprisings, the logic of covert and clandestine cyber operations, and how cooperation and competition influence the behavior of militant groups. His research generally leverages new data and quantitative methods to understand political violence.

This event is sponsored by the Human Rights Research and Data Hub (HuRRD) at the Human Rights Institute. The Hub seeks to advance human rights research at UConn by supporting faculty and student projects and providing students the opportunity to develop research and data analysis skills that will advance their careers after graduation.

Human Rights Close to Home Youth Summit

January 11, 2023
8:30 AM - 4:00 PM
In Person - UConn Storrs

About the Youth Summit

We're pleased to announce the second annual Human Rights Close to Home Youth Summit! This one-day summit is designed by youth for youth and convenes young activists and allies from around Connecticut to learn and mobilize as a community. It will take place on January 11, 2023 at the University of Connecticut Storrs Campus.

The Youth Summit is part of Human Rights Close to Home (HRCH), which is an innovative three-year pilot program that aims to promote rights-based civic engagement by youth through human rights education.

We are offering Connecticut students an opportunity to participate in the Youth Summit, a major event within the Human Rights Close to Home initiative. This Youth Summit is created and led by the Human Rights Close to Home Youth Advisory team. This is a one-day educational space for young activists and allies from around CT to come together as a community.

In May 2022, we succeeded in gathering students from a diverse range of Connecticut high schools for an engaging day of hands-on workshops and guest speakers. Our goal was to provide powerful learning experiences that would enable and encourage attendees to take action for human rights back in their school communities. 

Throughout the Youth Summit, students and educators will participate in workshops designed by youth and will interact with a wide range of speakers, from fellow youth activists to professional human rights advocates.

At this time, the Youth Summit is open only to Connecticut high school students and teachers. Please direct any questions to the HRCH Youth Advisory Team coordinators Chris Buckley, Sian Charles-Harris, and Jake Skrzypiec.

Students & Teachers – Register Now!

Interested in attending the HRCH Youth Summit? Register here by Monday, December 5, 2022.

If you are an educator and are in need of transportation assistance we are happy to help.
Please contact our Youth Advisory Team Coordinators for assistance: Chris Buckley, Sian Charles-Harris, and Jake Skrzypiec.

Call for Student Proposals

Students who would like to present should visit the Call for Presentation Proposals form and view the  Youth Summit Presentation Proposal Guide.

Students creating demonstration signs & art in a hands-on workshop

Students creating demonstration signs & art in a hands-on workshop

Denise Merrill (Fm. CT Secretary of State), Terra Volpe (CT Against Gun Violence), Leila Affini (Manchester youth leader), speaking on female empowerment panel

Denise Merrill (Fm. CT Secretary of State), Terra Volpe (CT Against Gun Violence), Leila Affini (Manchester youth leader), speaking on female empowerment panel

Students from across Connecticut gathering together for keynote speaker

Students from across Connecticut gathering together for the keynote speaker

HRCH Youth Advisory Team

Lilly Coleman, Manchester High School
Kevin Maysonet, Manchester High School
Quinn Hope, E.O. Smith High School
Lysa-Raye Mccaw, Bloomfield High School
Skylar Mattice, Brookfield High School
Mac Rodriguez, Brookfield High School
Shirin Unvala-Brien McMahon, Center for Global Studies High School

HRCH Youth Advisory Team Coordinators

Chris Buckley, Brookfield High School
Sian Charles-Harris, UCONN Neag School of Education 
Jake Skrzypiec, Manchester High School

Human Rights Close to Home (HRCH) engages educators and youth in the development and implementation of human rights education for civic action. We empower teachers with the knowledge, skills, values, and relationships to become expert human rights and civics educators. We foster youth leadership through experiential learning opportunities that have a direct impact on our youth and their communities. 

Human Rights Close to Home is a program of Dodd Impact, a part of the Human Rights Institute at UConn.

Understanding the Effectiveness of State and Worker-Led Efforts to Combat Forced Labour in Supply Chains

Tuesday, November 1, 2022
12:30 pm - 1:45 pm
Virtual Event

About This Workshop:

The Business and Human Rights Workshop is dedicated to the development and discussion of works-in-progress and other non-published academic research. 

Multi-national corporations’ (MNCs) responsibility for human rights abuse within global supply chains, including forced labour, human trafficking and modern slavery is increasingly recognised in international standards including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, United Nations Global Compact, and the Sustainable Development Goals. However, there is mounting evidence that voluntary corporate social responsibility (CSR) mechanisms—such as supplier codes of conduct, ethical certification, and social auditing—widely relied upon to uphold human rights in supply chains are failing. In light of these failures, governments and worker organizations are pioneering alternatives, including home state legislation—through which the home states of MNCs introduce top-down requirements for more meaningful changes in corporate behaviour— and new legally binding transnational supply chain agreements called worker-driven social responsibility (WSR) initiatives, which exert bottom-up pressure to change commercial practices. There is considerable optimism that these twin developments are creating a new wave of regulation to address forced labour and overlapping abuses in global supply chains. How can we best study the effectiveness of these mechanisms and their interactions?


Genevieve LeBaron
School of Public Policy
Simon Fraser University


Rachel Chambers
School of Business
University of Connecticut

This workshop will take place on Zoom and will not be recorded. Please register to attend.

This event is hosted by the Business & Human Rights Initiative, a partnership between Dodd Human Rights Impact, the UConn School of Business, and the Human Rights Institute. It is co-sponsored by the Research Program on Economic & Social Rights in the Human Rights Institute.