Graduate Student Research Grant Competition

2017-2018 Human Rights Research Grant Competition

The Human Rights Institute announces the Human Rights Research Grant Competition for graduate students at the University of Connecticut. The objective of the competition is to support and promote research projects on human rights related questions.

Graduate Student Research Grant Competition Criteria

The funding competition is open to all JD, LLM, master's and doctoral students in all disciplines from Storrs and the regional campuses.

Evaluation Criteria for Graduate Student Human Rights Research Grant Applications

1. Overall excellence of the proposed research project on human rights issues, understood broadly. Projects should make a significant contribution to ongoing scholarly and policy debates in the field of human rights.

2. Awards will prioritize primary research, including library research, fieldwork, interviewing, historical archival research, pilot studies, data collection and data set construction, etc. In exceptional cases we will consider summer fellowship requests, which would allow PhD students the time to make significant progress or complete their dissertations. Requests for funding for conference travel and seminar/course tuition (including language or methods training) will also be considered.

All proposals will be reviewed and ranked by a multidisciplinary review committee chaired by the Co- Director of the Human Rights Institute and comprised of members of the Gladstein Committee. The number of grants will depend on the number of applications ranked 'excellent' by the review panel.

Application format

Each application should include a project proposal which should be a maximum of three pages, an anticipated budget, CV, and letter of recommendation. All written materials should be double spaced and printed in 12-point, Times New Roman font with 1 inch standard margins.

The 3 page project proposal should include the following:

  • Intellectual Rationale: Please describe your reasoning for undertaking this research project and the impact you think believe your project will have on understandings of, and/or policies affecting, human rights.
  • Expected Project Outcomes: Describe what the expected outcome of your research project is should you receive these funds. That is, what will be produced with these funds?
  • Methodology: Explain how you will conduct your research. Be explicit in describing the types of methods employed and the advantage of using these particular methods.
  • Budget Narrative: The purpose of the budget narrative is to supplement the information provided in the anticipated budget document to demonstrate you have considered the costs associated with your research. The narrative is different from the spreadsheet in that rather than listing expected costs in dollars, the narrative explains the rationales for these expected costs.

You should submit your application via our online portal at:

Graduate student applications are also required to include a separate statement from their supervisor on how the funding will advance the applicant's research, and a copy of the latest version of their CV. Please forward this link to your recommender for them to submit your letter electronically:

Application Deadline: November 10, 2017
If you have any questions please call 860-486-5393 or email


2015-2016 Human Rights Research Grant Recipients

Melanie Meinzer, PhD Candidate in Political Science
"Contested Consciousness: Foreign Aid and NGOs in Education"

Michael Rosino, PhD Student in Sociology
"Human Rights Discourse and Practice in U.S. Third Party Political Organizations"

My project focuses on third party political organizations in the United States that include support for human rights and the inclusion of marginalized social groups into the political process within their platforms. In particular, I want to understand how these political organizations in the United States talk about and understand human rights in their daily operations, documents, and deliberations and how the idea of political rights, that is, the rights to participation and inclusion in the political process and political life of a society, is actualized in their everyday social practices. I hope to illuminate the potential barriers and boundaries to full inclusion and participation in these contexts and methods of overcoming them. More broadly, this project will advance the overall engagement of political sociology with the topic of human rights and bring to light the specific political and social dynamics of human rights in the context of American political organizations. I will be performing archival research on third parties along with participant observation and semi-structured interviews with a third party political organization in the Northeastern United States.

Michelle San Pedro, PhD Student in Anthropology
"Clinical Encounters between Midwives and First-Time Expectant Mothers in Esteli, Nicaragua"

The 1979 United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women determined that countries have a human-rights obligation to guarantee access to timely, nondiscriminatory, and appropriate maternal health services. Nicaragua is a country that prioritizes healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth despite limited resources. Maternity homes, where rural women reside near urban hospitals in their final three weeks of pregnancy, are a primary way of providing poor women with equal access to trained birth attendants. My research uses life histories, participant observation, and semi-structured interviews to examine how this system affects pregnant women and their families. I will also explore the role of the state in the production of ideal citizens—competent healthcare workers, women as subjects, and supportive male partners—as well as the differences in expectations and goals between midwives and pregnant women. For this project, I will work with Centro Nicaraguense de los Derechos Humanos, a human-rights organization in Esteli that is a member of the International Federation of Human Rights. I will also coordinate prenatal care with a non-governmental organization, Juntos Adelante (Together Forward), to promote women’s reproductive rights. Five midwives will assist me with mapping residential villages.

Chriss Sneed, Sociology PhD Program, Feminist Studies Certificate
"Intersections of discourse regarding community, identity and activism"

As a Sociologist, I am interested in examining the intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in relation to inequality in everyday life and on institutional levels. Additionally, I am concerned with the reproduction and legitimating process of knowledge-making and sharing, respectability, and power relations. My current research is a heavily qualitative approach to understanding the ways individual activists conceptualize their identity, and thus, social justice initiatives. Not only am I interested in their disruption of identity-based categories, but how they use these constructions to support rights-based claims on local, community, and on national levels.

Zareen Thomas, PhD Candidate in Anthropology
"Human Rights Mediation in Copenhagen, Denmark"

This anthropological investigation examines the ways in which non-profit organizations instrumentalize “culture” to mediate human rights and social justice discourses. By conducting ethnographic research with a youth organization in Copenhagen, Denmark that uses hip-hop, both locally and internationally, for democratic awareness-raising and youth empowerment, I seek to analyze the translation and dissemination of internationally-circulating ideologies about youth, human rights and citizenship. This project compliments research I have done with hip-hop artists and associations in Bolivia, and sheds lights on how states, organizations, and young people (re)configure and reproduce the rights, responsibilities and roles of youth.

You can find information about previous award winners here.