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Human Rights First Fellowship

Internship with Human Rights First, Washington, D.C.


The Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) and the Donia Human Rights Center (DHRC), in partnership with Human Rights First (HRF) in Washington, D.C., seeks applicants for one fellowship supporting a summer internship with HRF. The awarded fellow is expected to spend up to 8 weeks in Washington, D.C., between May and August 2018, working with Melissa Hooper, Director of the Human Rights and Civil Society unit at Human Rights First.

This fellowship is administered jointly by PICS and DHRC, in collaboration with HRF, and provides a stipend of $5,000 to defray the travel expenses and costs of living in Washington, D.C. for 8 weeks. Applications will be reviewed by a joint review committee from DHRC, PICS, and HRF.

The Fellow is expected to offer a presentation of the internship projects and experiences, as well as a written reflection and statement of gratitude to HRF for submission to PICS/DHRC upon the fellow’s return to campus.

The goal of the fellowship is to support an accomplished LSA student who demonstrates interest in pursuing a career in human rights. Applications will be evaluated on the quality of the statement of purpose, the applicant’s record of achievement, and the promise for the internship position with Human Rights First. Applicants will be notified of the selection process results by late March 2018.

Application Deadline: Friday, February 15, 2019

Notification: by late March 2019

Eligibility Requirements

This fellowship is intended for LSA undergraduates focusing on international human rights. It is not open to graduating seniors (i.e., students graduating in WN18 or SP/SU 18). The Fellow must return to campus for at least one semester after completion of this internship.

Position Description

The Fellow will conduct research and advocacy on issues of priority to Human Rights First’s Foreign Policy team. This will entail researching new laws and policies contradicting human rights in countries of interest, particularly Hungary, Poland, and Russia; and drafting press releases and statements recommending what action the United States Government should take in response to these developments. The Fellow will also help organize and conduct meetings with Congress, the United States Department of State, and other government officials in service of Human Rights First’s advocacy objectives, and will help organize events in support of these objectives.

In 2018, in addition to tracking anti-democratic developments in Hungary and Poland, Human Rights First’s objectives will include advocacy to raise awareness of the human rights situation in Russia with the corporate sponsors of the World Cup, and authoring and presenting a policy paper on Russian disinformation strategies and how to combat them online. The Fellow may therefore be called on to research corporate entities or responses that technology companies have used to combat disinformation online—or to help evaluate strategies legislated by Congress.

Desired Qualifications

  • a sophisticated knowledge of how Congress works and how to engage Congressional offices
  • excellent analytical-writing ability
  • organized thinker, writer, and presenter
  • interest in and knowledge of recent political and legal developments in Poland and/or Hungary, and/or of human rights in Russia
  • Russian disinformation strategies and potential counterstrategies a plus
  • foreign languages, especially applicable foreign-language skills, a plus
  • knowledge of corporate, social-responsibility concepts and application of the Ruggie Report a plus

Application procedure

Applicants must submit: cover letter, CV, statement of purpose, transcript, and at least one letter of recommendation from a U-M instructor. Applicants must submit an application via MCompass.

Contact information:


Human Rights First (HRF):

Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. Over its 35-year history, Human Rights First has earned a reputation for pragmatic, results-oriented advocacy that is politically astute, grounded in facts, and driven by sophisticated legal and policy analysis. HRF is a non-profit, non-partisan organization with a track record of success in delivering change that has made a meaningful difference in people’s lives. The organization is led by President and CEO Elisa Massimino. A lawyer and activist with more than two decades of experience in the field, she has been recognized as one of the top 20 public advocates in the country. Massimino leads a team of almost 100 talented and committed activists based in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Houston, TX.

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, it invites leading practitioners and scholars to share insights and expertise on human rights gained through their experiences and research. DHRC also offers 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 International and Comparative Studies (PICS):

The Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) is a focal point for the interdisciplinary study of issues that transcend borders. PICS encourages students and faculty to broaden their horizons while they deepen their knowledge of the global diversity of cultures and political, economic, and social contexts. PICS administers one of the largest and most dynamic undergraduate programs on campus in the forms of the International Studies major and minor, as well as student fellowship support for international internships, research, and study abroad.