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Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights

"Human rights” has emerged as a prominent concept for justice among scholars, activists, politicians, aid workers, and NGO officials. It has wide use and powerful reach and yet remains contested and fluid. What opportunities does the invocation of "human rights" enable, and what does it constrain? How do we understand the intellectual genealogy of human rights? Is human rights a terrain of resistance, or is it the new orthodoxy? Does the existence of widespread injustice prove that human-rights-based social change efforts are ineffectual, or does it prove that such efforts need to be expanded and empowered? The Gallatin Human Rights Initiative seeks to catalyze critical reflection and engagement with these and related questions.

The Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights is a year-long program that supports selected NYU students with up to $5,000 in funding to focus on these issues while working with human rights organizations. Fellows pursue extended projects and internships (including research and report writing) for the host organization during the summer. The fellowship aims to allow students to contribute to the host organizations’ work while gaining experience in the human rights field in ways that complement their academic trajectory at NYU.

See below for eligibility and application requirements. Also see application FAQs and learn more about past Fellows' summer projects through their blog site and annual symposium presentations.

APPLICATION DEADLINE, 2021-22: November 1, 2021

Attending an info session and viewing past symposia are highly recommended for prospective applicants.

Fall 2021 Information Sessions (RSVP required. Event details will be sent after RSVP.)

Fall 2021 Human Rights Symposium

Program Requirements


Fellows are required to attend and participate actively in two courses:

  • A 75-minute weekly seminar specifically tailored to the work of the fellows. The seminar will include an introduction to and analysis of key debates on human rights, brief assignments, guest lectures, and some exposure to NYC's human rights community. The seminar is graduate-level and carries 2 credits, but a 0-credit Pass/Fail option is available on a case-by-case basis.

Update: The seminar for Spring 2022 is expected to be offered in-person at NYU’s Washington Square campus; fellows must plan to study in NYC during the spring semester.

  • An independent study carrying at least 2 credits, exploring some aspect of the intended summer project under the mentorship of an NYU professor of the student's choice. The independent study should meet at least five times and explore a minimum of five texts.


Fellows commit 10-12 weeks of full-time work on a viable human rights-related project or internship supervised by a host organization of their choice. This can involve research, drafting of reports, community organizing, developing communication material, website development, and any other kind of work that will be of value to the host organization and that is in keeping with the spirit and purpose of the fellowship. Fellows submit at least four blog posts about their experiences.

Update: Fellows should plan to live on location and intern in-person during Summer 2022. Should public health circumstances prevent travel and/or in-person work, it is expected that fellows would move forward with remote internships.


Fellows present their work to the NYU community at the annual Human Rights Symposium. This will involve a substantial panel presentation.

Meet the Fellows

Gallatin has sponsored a cohort of about ten fellows per year. Learn about them below and also see their annual symposium presentations and read their summer blogs.

Meet the Advisory Council

The fellowship is supported and advised by distinguished leaders in the field of international human rights.


The program is open to all undergraduate students in degree-granting programs at NYU and to master’s students in Gallatin, the College of Global Public Health, the Graduate School of Arts and Science, Law, Nursing, Social Work, Steinhardt, Tandon, Tisch, and Wagner.

NOTE: This fellowship was organized primarily to benefit students who have little access to such funding; therefore, applications from undergraduates will receive priority consideration.

All selected fellows must be matriculated at NYU during the during the Spring and Summer terms following the application deadline. Additionally, undergraduate fellows must be matriculated at NYU during the Fall semester following the summer project.

Prospective Applicants

Interested students are advised to do the following as early as possible in the application process:

  • Identify a nonprofit organization working for social change that clearly indicates in its literature that it draws on the human rights framework. It may approach human rights in heterodox ways, but human rights should be an anchor in its effort to bring about social change. Prior involvement with the organization is not required.

A firm commitment from the organization is not required by the fellowship application deadline. However, you should verify that the organization has the capacity to host you during the summer period, supervise your project, and incorporate you into the substantive aspects of their work. A confirmation from the organization will be expected by January.

  • Identify an NYU faculty member who can oversee the Spring independent study. This faculty member must submit at minimum a confirmation by the application deadline that s/he has agreed to work with you. Accepted fellows will preferably register for their home school/department's independent study and should review related guidelines for stipulations and deadlines.

The independent study need not relate to human rights; it should focus on helping you to better contextualize the summer work (e.g., a history of the conflict, background on sociopolitical aspects of the region, etc.).

  • Identify an NYU faculty member who can write you a recommendation letter. This should preferably come from the Spring independent study faculty, though if you do not know this person well, it may come from a faculty member who does.
  • If an undergraduate, verify with your advisor that you may register for the Spring seminar (it is a graduate-level class). If a graduate student, verify with the bursar tuition and registration fees for the Spring seminar and independent study.

Application Requirements

Online application that includes the following:

  • Statement of proposal, 2-3 pages
  • Spring independent study proposal, 250-500 words
  • Projected budget
  • Current resume
Sent separately by faculty:
  • Letter of recommendation/independent study confirmation

Contact Info

NYU Gallatin Office of Global Programs
411 Lafayette St., 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003
1 (212) 998-7133 phone
1 (212) 995-4265 fax

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