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Ian Fishback Human Rights Fellowship


The Ian Fishback Human Rights Fellowship is awarded to outstanding undergraduate students majoring in the Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). This fellowship is administered by the Donia Human Rights Center (DHRC) and provides up to $1,250 for recipients to fund intellectual experiences related to the roles and responsibilities of people in public life regarding the advancement of human rights. 

Within this broad mandate, many projects are possible. Some examples of ways the money might be used are:

  • a trip to Washington D.C. to attend Congressional hearings on a human rights issue;
  •  attendance at a UN-sponsored event on multinational corporations and human rights;
  • travel to a presidential library or archives to examine documents related to a historical human rights issue;
  •  a visit to a think tank to discuss the impact of global economic policy on the gender gap in poverty;
  • an overnight trip to Lansing to interview state legislators and members of the Civil Rights Commission about the human rights issues that most impact the citizens of Michigan.

A committee of faculty affiliated with the DHRC and PPE will make the final selections. Successful applicants will be asked to submit a short (500-600 word) summary report on their experience. This report may be shared with Mr. Donia and Ms. Ritter. 

The Ian Fishback fund honors the memory of Major Ian Fishback, MA Philosophy ’12, PhD Philosophy ’20. Fishback, from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, was a tireless defender of human rights and respect for the law of war. A model public servant, he helped expose abuses of detainees in Iraq by U.S. Army forces with whom he served, leading to important legislation to prevent such abuses.

This fellowship is possible thanks to a generous gift from Robert J. Donia and Jane Ritter.

Application deadline: March 31, 2024

Notification: Generally, students will learn whether their proposals are accepted or rejected within six weeks of submission. It is possible that the award committee will ask to see a more detailed proposal before making its decision.

Eligibility requirements: Recipients must be undergraduate PPE majors with an approved theme and at least four completed PPE courses (beyond the prerequisites for the major). Seniors have priority, but juniors with worthy proposals are eligible as well. 

Application procedure: Applicants should submit a 300-500 word proposal that (i) clearly explains the envisioned intellectual experience, and (ii) details the expected costs of the experience. Proposals will be considered as they arrive.

  • Applications should be submitted by e-mail to
  • Successful applicants will be asked to submit a short (500-600 word) summary report on their experience. This report may be shared with Mr. Donia and Ms. Ritter.
  • If you are thinking of applying, we strongly encourage you to contact Professor David Baker ( as soon as possible.

Contact information:  For questions about the application process contact Professor David Baker at


Donia Human Rights Center (DHRC):

The Donia Human Rights Center is a forum for intellectual exchange on issues around human rights among scholars, practitioners, students, and the broader public. Toward that end, we invite leading practitioners and scholars to share their insights and expertise on human rights gained through their experiences and research. We also offer internship and study-abroad opportunities to students that would enhance their understanding of contemporary human rights issues and equip them with the tools to tackle challenging human rights problems around the world.

Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

The Department of Philosophy, in conjunction with the Department of Economics and the Department of Political Science, offers the Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics as an interdisciplinary major in political economy. The program will stress analytic rigor and critical reasoning, and is unique in combining normative inquiry, empirical methods, and formal tools of analysis. It integrates the study of the relationships of government, political processes, property, production, markets, trade and distribution from the standpoint of assessing these arrangements with respect to the interests and progress of humanity.