Funding for Faculty

UConn faculty and staff focused on human rights may apply for research funding from the Human Rights Institute through two programs:

Dr. Fiona Vernal speaking at a podium

Seed Grant for Faculty Research in Human Rights

Our seed grant competition is meant to support and promote faculty research projects on human rights and to facilitate the writing of external grant proposals. We offer one award of $10,000 each academic year. Proposed research projects should make a significant contribution to ongoing scholarly and/or policy debates in the field of human rights. They will be evaluated for overall excellence on human rights issues, understood broadly. All proposals will be reviewed by a multidisciplinary committee chaired by the associate director of the Human Rights Institute.

2022 Seed Grant Recipient

Manisha Desai
Professor, Sociology and Asian and Asian American Studies

 

"Women’s Rights, Land Rights, and Climate Justice"
Over a billion women worldwide depend on land for their livelihood and steward eco-systems on which we all rely.* Yet, most women do not have legal rights to these lands, even the communally owned land in many countries. And even where women did have such rights, they have increasingly been deprived of them. Yet, because of their reliance on land, women in rural and indigenous communities also possess local knowledge about natural resources that make them important agents of addressing the adverse impact of climate change. Hence, women’s movements have been advocating for two decades – since the 1992 adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – to make a case for women’s rights to land as a key element of a rights-based approach to climate justice.

 

Hence, in this proposal I seek to study movements that have advocated for women’s right to land as part of climate justice work. In particular, I will (1) develop a data set of examples of how historically marginalized communities in the Global North and South combine women’s rights to land in their climate justice work; (2) select 2 cases, one in the US Northeast and one in India for preliminary field research that will inform the proposal for a longer-term study on women’s land rights as central to climate justice.

 

The research will not only contribute to the interdisciplinary fields of women’s human rights, climate justice, and social movements but also to community efforts for climate justice and policy and planning at the local and global levels. More specifically, in the last decade based on the advocacy of landless peasants and rural workers’ movements, there has been an increasing recognition within the UN system for a stand-alone human right to land (e.g., Kothari 2020) as integrally related to rights to food, livelihood, housing, security of the person and home. My study will contribute to this by highlighting how women’s land rights can also contribute to climate justice.

More about Manisha Desai

Manisha Desai is the Head of Sociology and Professor of Sociology and Asian and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut and a Senior Research Fellow at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in Geneva, Switzerland. Her areas of research and teaching include gender and globalization, transnational feminisms and women’s human rights, and social movements in India. Her most recent book is Subaltern Movements in India: The Gendered Geography of Struggles Against Neoliberal Development (Routledge 2016). In addition, she has 4 other single-authored or edited and co-edited books and numerous articles and book chapters.  Currently she is working on several projects related to decolonizing transnational feminism and social theory as well as contemporary feminist campaigns against Hindu fundamentalism in India.

In recognition of her contribution to feminist scholarship she was awarded the Sociologist for Women in Society’s 2015 Distinguished Feminist Award. She is also the recipient of the 2016 Faculty Mentor Award from the Compact for Faculty Diversity in the United States. She has served in many leadership capacities including as President of Sociologist for Women in Society and as part of the Expert Committee of Every Woman Everywhere’s Global Treaty to End Violence Against Women. 

Former Recipients

2021

Alaina Brenick
Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Science
"A Right to Housing, A Right to Health: How do Connecticut Constituents View the Homeless Community’s Right to Housing During and Beyond COVID-19"

Eligibility Criteria & Requirements

  1. Open to full-time, permanent UConn faculty in any discipline at any UConn campus
  2. Applicant must be affiliated with UConn during the entire award period.
  3. Applicants may apply for both the Seed Grant and the Small Grant, but the recipient of the Seed Grant will be ineligible to receive a Small Grant in the same year.
  4. Disbursement of funds is contingent upon receipt of any required IRB approval.
  5. The grant holder agrees to:
    1. Submit a progress report (2 page maximum) on the research project by July 30, 2022.
    2. Present an HRI Lunchtime Seminar in the year following their grant.
  6. The seed grant may be used to:
    1. Support graduate assistant or undergraduate student labor costs at university-established rates.
    2. Contribute towards course replacement costs, following the model of the Research Excellence Program. This must be approved by your department head.
    3. Pay for direct costs associated with travel for research or research support costs.

How to Apply

Access the application via Microsoft Forms. The application requires the following materials:

  1. Narrative description of the research project (5 pages, double spaced, 12 pt. font);
  2. Brief explanation of plans to apply for outside grants (no more than a half page);
  3. Budget narrative (1 page maximum);
  4. Bibliography for the project (1 page maximum); and
  5. Current CV

Application Deadline for 2023: TBD

Evaluation Criteria

The following criteria will be used in evaluating applications:

  • Significance of the contribution that the project will make to knowledge in the field of human rights
  • Quality of the conception, definition, organization, and description of the project
  • Feasibility of the project, including rationale for the budget
  • Priority will be given to applicants who indicate clearly their plans to apply for external funding.
  • Additional priority may be given to applications from junior faculty and to those faculty who have not received this grant in recent years.
  • Applications that do not follow the guidelines for page length and supporting documents will not be considered.

Questions about the competition? Please email humanrights@uconn.edu or call 860-486-5393.

Small Grants for Faculty & Staff Research in Human Rights

Our research grant competition for the faculty and staff supports and promotes research projects on human rights related questions. Projects should make a significant contribution to ongoing scholarly and/or policy debates in the field of human rights.

Awards will prioritize primary research, including library research, fieldwork, interviewing, historical archival research, pilot studies, data collection, and data set construction. Book preparation requests are permitted and could include copy editing, indexing, and editorial assistance. Requests to provide a subvention for an open access publication or for access to databases for research will be considered.

2022 Small Grant Recipients

David Richards
Associate Professor, Political Science & Human Rights Institute
Jeremy Pressman
Professor, Political Science & Director, Middle East Studies

 

"Evaluating Israel’s Claim of Exceptional Negative Treatment About Human Rights Violations"

The Government of Israel and its allies have long claimed that the international community singles out Israel for criticism about its governmental human rights practices. Israeli actors often utilize a type of deflective strategy known as “exonerative comparison” – the minimization of one’s own actions by comparing them to some other actor’s purportedly worse actions (Osofsky et al 2005). Sometimes, Israel attempts to divert international attention toward Palestinian policies and conduct, Israel’s preferred terrain for global discursive struggles. Exonerative comparison is one example of how governments push back against the international human rights regime in an attempt to stymie rhetorical efforts meant to compel policy change or promote accountability. This project will produce a novel evaluation of the longstanding Israeli claim of exceptional treatment, both in absolute terms and in relation to other countries, with regards to allegations of human rights violations. For the time period of 1993-2021, we also will assess situations where Israel may be singled out for positive treatment, something its government does not highlight, such as with US veto protection at the UN Security Council (UNSC). Gathering the information for this study of Israel’s complaints of bias will serve as a test case about the viability of a larger, more-comprehensive, database-generating effort.

 

Project Team:

Spencer Hayes, PhD student, Political Science
Minju Lee, PhD student, Political Science
Jeremy Pressman, Professor, Political Science & Director, Middle East Studies
David L. Richards, Associate Professor, Political Science & Human Rights Institute

More about David Richards and Jeremy Pressman

David Richards is an Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut, with appointments in both the Department of Political Science and the Human Rights Institute, where he is Director of Graduate Studies.

David’s body of work on human rights includes more than two-dozen studies of: gender-violence law, the measurement of government respect for human rights including torture, US public support for torture, and the effects of globalization on human rights respect, among others. He has also authored reports for governments and international organizations.

Some current projects include studies of: torture in the time of COVID; sexual violence as torture; school infrastructure as a children’s right; the language of torture in narratives; and best-practices in teaching college students about torture.

David Richards is likely best known as the co-founder/director of the now-archived Cingranelli-Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Data Project. Funded multiple times by the National Science Foundation and World Bank, among others, this project provided information on the level of government respect for 16 human rights in 196 countries from 1981 to 2012. The CIRI Project’s data have been used by international organizations such as the United Nations and World Bank, and in 170 countries by governments, media, activists, businesses, scholars, and students.

David’s book (with Jill Haglund, Univ. of Kentucky) Violence Against Women and the Law (Routledge 2015), examines the strength of laws addressing four types of violence against women–rape, marital rape, domestic violence, and sexual harassment–in 196 countries from 2007 to 2010. Of central importance is the question of why these laws exist in some places and not others, and why they are stronger or weaker in places where they do exist. The book’s original data allow the testing of various hypotheses related to whether international law drives the enactment of domestic legal protections. Also examined are the ways in which these legal protections are related to economic, political, and social institutions, and how transnational society affects the presence and strength of these laws.

Jeremy Pressman is a Professor of Political Science and Director of Middle East Studies at UConn. He is the Co-director of the Crowd Counting Consortium and a fellow of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

Jeremy studies international relations, protests, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Middle East politics, and U.S. foreign policy. He co-founded and co-directs the Crowd Counting Consortium, an event counting project that has tallied and made publicly available data on all manner of protests in the United States since 2017. Pressman received his PhD in political science from MIT and previously worked at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has held fellowships at Harvard University, Brandeis University, the University of Sydney, the Humanities Institute at the University of Connecticut, and the Norwegian Nobel Institute where he was a Fulbright fellow.

His most recent book is The sword is not enough: Arabs, Israelis, and the limits of military force (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2020). Pressman questions the over-reliance on military force and highlights the negative military and political consequences such as greater insecurity. Pressman has spoken at length about the book in settings ranging from an academic talk at UCLA (video) to podcasts such as “In the Moment” (Town Hall Seattle) and “Power Problems” (CATO Institute).

Pressman has written two other books:  Warring Friends: Alliance Restraint in International Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008), a part of the Cornell Studies in Security Affairs; and, with Geoffrey Kemp, Point of No Return: The Deadly Struggle for Middle East Peace (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1997). He has published journal articles in Cooperation & ConflictDiplomatic HistoryInternational SecurityPerspectives on PoliticsScience AdvancesSocial Movement Studies, and elsewhere (journal articles). He has also published many articles and letters in the wider press such as the New York TimesWashington Post, the Boston Review, the Washington Quarterly and ForeignAffairs.com (articles and interviews). Pressman has enjoyed speaking to community groups – often about Israel-Palestine – including at public libraries, eldercare facilities, faith communities, schools, a debate camp, and (virtually) to the Tucson (AZ) Great Decisions Association. See E-IR for a 2020 interview with Pressman on his career and publications.

Former Recipients

2021

Gary M. English
Distinguished Professor, Dramatics Arts
“Theatre and Human Rights: The Politics of Dramatic Form”

Sandra L. Sirota
Assistant Professor in Residence, Human Rights Institute
“Shaping an Education System that Works for Us: Youth-led Movements to Disrupt Systemic Racism in Education”

Eligibility Criteria & Requirements

  • Open to UConn faculty, staff, and post-docs in all disciplines at any UConn campus.
  • Applicant must be affiliated with UConn during the entire award period.
  • Disbursement of funds is contingent upon receipt of any required IRB approval.
  • Applicants may apply for both the Seed Grant and the Small Grant, but the recipient of the Seed Grant will be ineligible to receive a Small Grant in the same year.

How to Apply

Access the application via Microsoft Forms. The application requires the following materials:

  • Intellectual rationale for the project, list of expected project outcomes, and methodology (three pages, double spaced, 12 point font);
  • Budget narrative of research-related expenses (typically not to exceed $2000) (no more than a half page)
  • Current CV

Application Deadline for 2023: TBD

Evaluation Criteria

Proposed research projects will be evaluated for overall excellence of the proposed research project on human rights issues, understood broadly. All proposals will be reviewed by a multidisciplinary committee chaired by the Associate Director of the Human Rights Institute with the following three

  1. Significance of the contribution that the project will make to knowledge in the field of human rights
  2. Quality of the conception, definition, organization, and description of the project
  3. Feasibility of the project, including rationale for the budget
  4. Additional priority may be given to applications from junior faculty and those faculty who have not received this grant in recent years.
  5. Applications that do not follow the guidelines for page length and supporting documents will not be considered.

Questions about the competition? Please email humanrights@uconn.edu or call 860-486-5393.