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Human Rights First Fellowship

Internship with the 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 applications for a fellowship to support a summer internship with HRF. The successful applicant is expected to spend up to eight weeks in Washington, D.C., between May and August 2020, working with Melissa Hooper, Director of the Human Rights and Civil Society program at Human Rights First. 

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

Upon return to campus after the internship, fellows are expected to deliver a presentation of their internship projects and experiences, and submit a written reflection to PICS/DHRC.

The goal of the fellowship is to support an accomplished LSA student with demonstrated 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 their promise for the internship position with Human Rights First. Applicants will be notified of the selection process results by late March 2020.

Application Deadline: February 14, 2020

Notification: By late March 2020

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 WN20 or SP/SU20). Students must return to campus for at least one semester after completing this internship.

Position Description

The fellow will conduct research and advocacy on issues of priority to Human Rights First’s Foreign Policy team. This entails researching new laws and policies that contradict human rights in countries of interest, particularly Hungary, Poland, Syria, Yemen, and Ukraine; 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. The fellow will help organize events in support of these objectives.

In 2019, in addition to tracking anti-democratic developments in Hungary and Poland, and urging U.S. government entities to revisit policies in Syria and Yemen, Human Rights First’s objectives include advocacy to increase democracy funding overseas, including reintroducing funding in Central Europe. The fellow may therefore be called on to research appropriations or democracy support issues, and formulate memos for congressional advocacy to increase funding or condition it on meeting rule of law benchmarks.

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 Central Europe, Syria/Yemen, and/or general foreign policy strategy and engagement with authoritarian states. Foreign-languages, and especially applicable foreign-languages skills a plus.

Application procedure

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



Human Rights First

Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. Over its 40-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. Human Rights First 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 Mike Breen. Breen leads a team of talented and committed activists based in four U.S. offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Houston.

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 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. We encourage 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.