Applied Policy Research with Human Rights NGOs

Each year, Prof. James Ron works with teams of University of Minnesota graduate students to produce social science-based applied policy research for human rights groups on a wide variety of themes. This work is sponsored by the Humphrey School for Public Affairs and the university’s Master’s in Human Rights, and is available as a three-credit practicum for graduate students throughout the University of Minnesota system, including members of the Humphrey Fellows program. Humphrey School students may also count this as their final capstone project, should they take this class in their second year.

Academic Year 2017-18

Graduate students will work with the US program of Human Rights Watch (HRW) to analyze survey data on the attitudes of the U.S. population towards human rights. The goal is to better better understand public attitudes towards human rights issues, policies, and organizations; to help HRW’s US program develop better, more publicly-aware advocacy and messaging strategies; and to integrate new human rights data into Prof. Ron’s ongoing Human Rights Perceptions Polls. 

Academic Year 2016-17 

This year, 14 graduate students are working on three projects for Human Rights Watch’s program office. They will present their findings to HRW in New York on May 18-19, 2017. The projects are:

  • Evaluating the impact of two HRW reports on police violence : One on police interrogation practices in India, and another on police killings in Brazil. Research questions:
    • What impact have these reports had on police practices?
    • What impact have these reports had on media coverage?
    • How should HRW best use scarce resources when evaluating these kinds of projects?
  • Evaluating  HRW’s recommendations for international commissions of inquiry. Research question:
    • under what conditions are such recommendations likely to yield positive impacts?
  • Survey of evaluation practices in peer organizations. Research questions:
    • What evaluation methods do HRW’s peers currently use to assess the impact of their advocacy projects?
    • How do these peers gather, record, and process their evaluation data?
    • How do peers disseminate, and learn from, their evaluations?
    • What can HRW learn from its peers?

Academic Year 2015-16

Academic Year 2014-15