The Institute for the Study of Human Rights welcomes scholars wishing to engage in research in the area of human rights. The Visiting Scholars Program is designed to link the visiting scholars with the Columbia community by providing connections to faculty members and encouraging participation in conferences and seminars.
Read the selected biographies of some of our recent scholars below. (Note: Bios may not be up to date.) Click here for a list of additional visiting scholars.
To learn more about the Visiting Scholars Program and how to apply, click here.
Rachel Wahl is a Ph.D. Candidate at New York University in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences program in International Education. Her research investigates the ways in which law enforcement officers in India respond to human rights advocacy and education related to state violence. This research was based on her twelve months of fieldwork in India. She was awarded the David L. Boren National Security Education Fellowship for fieldwork and intensive Hindi study. Rachel has also served as a consultant to USAID and the Norwegian Organization for International Development (NORAD) under the supervision of Dr. Dana Burde. Prior to beginning her Ph.D., she designed education programs for NGOs in New York, China and Peru.
Wen Yunchao, known more commonly by his online alias “Bei Feng”, launched a series of online campaigns in support of human rights and against Internet censorship. He was awarded the French Republic’s Human Rights Prize 2010 by the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, in recognition of his efforts and contribution in promoting China's human rights movements through social media.
Ze Hua, a director of documentary films from China, is a human rights activist. With a master degree in law, she has devoted herself deeply in freedom of speech and human rights issues in China, making documentaries of China's civil rights movement. Her research plan at Columbia is "A Case Study of Three Chinese Human Rights Lawyers (Xu ZhiYong, Pu ZhiJiang and Teng Biao.)
Zarizana Abdul Aziz, a Malaysian lawyer, was President of the Women’s Crisis Centre in Malaysia where she provided legal and emotional support to victims of violence against women. Abdul Aziz was subsequently involved in legal reform in the area of violence against women, gender equality, family law and religious laws in Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and East Timor, as well as training of lawyers, civil society advocates, religious scholars and government officials in the said areas. She served as an expert in the Expert Group Meeting on Good Practices pursuant to the United Nations Secretary-General in-depth study on all forms of violence against women (General Assembly resolution 58/185), as well as for various other international organizations, including UNIFEM (now part of UN Women), the UN Division for the Advancement of Women (now part of UN Women), the OHCHR and the International Commission of Jurists.
Bart De Sutter holds from Ghent University (Belgium) an M.A. in history and an M.A. in political science. In July 2009 he started as a PhD student at the Department of History of Antwerp University (Belgium) with a Dehousse scholarship. Since October 2010 he is a PhD fellow of the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) at the same institution. In 2008 he won the yearly André Schaepdrijver award for best master thesis in history at Ghent University. He contributed articles to a number of academic journals, among which is the History Workshop Journal.
Rosario Figari Layús has a researcher position in social sciences at the University of Konstanz (project sponsord by the European Research Council) and is PhD Candidate in Political Sciences at the University of Marburg (Germany). Her current thesis research focuses on the role of national criminal trials in Argentina. She holds a degree in sociology from the University of Buenos Aires and a MA in Social Sciences from the Humbodlt University of Berlin. She worked as research assistant at the Department of Poltical Sciences of the Free University of Berlin (2008-2009). Her research areas are human rights policies, Transitional Justice in Latin American, national and international prosecutions for human rights crimes. She is also a member of the Argentine Human Rights organization Permanent Assembly for Human Rights.
Mark Mattner is a PhD Candidate in Political Science and Trudeau Scholar at McGill University. His current research focuses on local governance and international political economy aspects of oil production in Africa. Prior to starting his PhD, Mark worked on a number of peace-building and development issues with the World Bank and UNHCR. He holds an M.Phil. in Development Studies from the University of Oxford.
Dr. Cecelia Walsh-Russo is currently Assistant Professor of Sociology at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York where she teaches courses on human rights and social movements. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia University’s Department of Sociology in 2008. While at Columbia, she was a Cordier Fellow at the School of International and Public Affairs. Her research has centered on the spread of tactics within human rights campaigns, beginning with the Anglo-American abolitionist movements of the early 19th century. She is currently conducting research on the dynamics of tactical diffusion within global human rights-based movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, including the Pan-African movement and the current international women’s movement.