James Ron, PhD, is a senior researcher with 30 years experience working in multiple continents, using a variety of research methods. His substantive interests include public opinion surveys, the social impact of business, human rights, non-governmental organizations, armed conflict, and public health. He has extensive expertise designing innovative research, pitching proposals to clients and funders, and presenting complex findings to multiple audiences, including the general public. His survey leadership experience includes training and monitoring teams of face-to-face interviewers in the developing world, and leading online surveys in the developed world.
Ron has done both scholarly and applied research in Albania, Bosnia, Colombia, the Republic of Congo, India, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkey, the United States, and Uzbekistan.
Ron holds a PhD in sociology from U.C. Berkeley (1999) and a BA in political science from Stanford University (1992). From 1999 to 2020, Ron was a tenure track and then tenured university professor at the Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore; at McGill University, in Montreal; at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, in Ottawa; at CIDE, in Mexico City; and at the University of Minnesota. During that time, he held a Tier II Canada Research Chair at McGill, and an endowed research chair at Minnesota.
Ron’s first non-academic job was as a junior reporter with the Associated Press, a media wire service, in Jerusalem, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, when he covered political and economic events, as well as the first Palestinian uprising. In 1992, he began consulting for Human Rights Watch, a global research and advocacy group, and continues to work with them until today. His Human Rights Watch investigations have taken him to multiple countries and continents, and have resulted in three book-length reports for the group on the Israeli-Occupied Palestinian Territories and Turkey, and a fourth report, still in progress, summarizing the results of a survey that Ron and colleagues conducted to learn more about the US public’s attitudes towards human and civil rights.
In the mid 1990s, Ron consulted for the global humanitarian network, CARE, studying their human rights dilemmas while supporting Rwandan refugees immediately after the genocide. During those same years, he did work for the International Committee of the Red Cross, analyzing their cooperation with the United Nations and other international humanitarian agencies seeking to protect civilians during the Yugoslav civil war.
Beginning in 2010, Ron began consulting for Life for a Child, an Australia-based medical charity linked to the International Diabetes Federation. The group supports over 20,000 children with Type 1 diabetes in low and middle income country. Ron began working with them when his son was diagnosed with the disease at age two, and has traveled on their behalf to India, Mexico, Morocco, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, conducting site visits and strengthening partnerships with local health providers and government.
Over the years, Ron has done a variety of applied research projects with support from the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundations (OSF), and the Canadian government, including its foreign and affairs & international cooperation ministry. With support from the University of Minnesota, Ford and the OSF, James helped create the Open Global Rights website in 2013, and served as its editor until 2017.
James currently lives with his two teenaged children and black lab in Minneapolis.