Kathryn Libal

Director, Human Rights Institute

Associate Professor, Social Work & Human Rights


Kathryn Libal, Ph.D., is director of the Human Rights Institute and an associate professor of social work and human rights at the University of Connecticut. Since 2007, she has taught at the School of Social Work and Human Rights Institute, specializing in human rights, refugee resettlement, and social welfare. Her scholarship has focused on the Middle East and United States. Libal has published on women’s and children’s rights movements in Turkey and on the advocacy of international non-governmental organizations on behalf of Iraqi refugees. Current scholarship examines: 1) the localization of human rights norms and practices in the United States, with a focus on social mobilization for the right to adequate food and housing; and 2) the politics and practices of voluntarism and refugee resettlement in the United States. The latter project is in collaboration with social work faculty Scott Harding and S. Megan Berthold. The team is examining how voluntarism in an era of xenophobia and backlash creates new forms of civic connection and political participation among volunteers, social service providers, and refugees.

Libal co-edited, with Shareen Hertel, Human Rights in the United States: Beyond Exceptionalism (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and authored, with Scott Harding, Human Rights-Based Approaches to Community Practice in the United States (Springer, 2015). She also co-edited, with S. Megan Berthold, Rebecca Thomas, and Lynne Healy, Advancing Human Rights in Social Work Education (Council on Social Work Education Press, 2014); Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Interdisciplinary and Comparative Perspectives (with S. Megan Berthold, Praeger, 2019) and most recently co-edited, with Molly Land and Jillian Chambers, an open access volume of essays titled Beyond Borders: The Human Rights of Noncitizens at Home and Abroad (Cambridge, 2021).

Libal serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Human Rights and Social Work and is the University of Connecticut’s liaison with the Scholars at Risk Program. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Consortium of Higher Education Centers for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies. She teaches courses on human rights and social work, qualitative research methods, social policy analysis, and approaches to human rights advocacy at the BA, MA, MSW, and PhD levels.

kathy libal
Contact Information
Emailkathryn.libal@uconn.edu
Phone860-486-8739
Office LocationThe Dodd Center for Human Rights, Room 152
CampusHartford & Storrs
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