Sunday, July 5, 2015

HHH Prof. Ron with Golden, Crow & Pandya: "Data-driven optimism for global rights activists"

Data-driven optimism for global rights activists 


Opinion polls across four world regions suggest that human rights activists can be cautiously optimistic—the public likes and trusts them. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Public Opinion and Human Rights.   EspañolFrançais, العربية

To succeed, local human rights groups must have some level of local support. Local groups can always call on foreigners for help, but lasting change requires domestic buy-in from politicians, state agents and ordinary people. Politicians need to feel the human rights heat from constituents, officials need to believe that human rights groups are credible, and members of the public need to contribute their voice, money and energies. 
Human rights activists are often pessimistic about the public’s views, believing their co-citizens view them with skepticism, or worse. According to our surveys in four world regions, however, the public views human rights ideas and organizations positively. Critical claims that human rights workers are linked to foreign powers and intervention, moreover, receive scant public support. Our data suggest that rights activists can feel cautiously optimistic about their public reputations. 

Activist perceptions, public surveys

To learn how activists see themselves, we first interviewed hundreds of human rights experts, activists and workers across 60 countries, asking them to comment on how the public viewed them, their organizations, and their issues. Some believed their compatriots viewed them positively, as courageous campaigners for justice. Most, however, felt embattled, disliked, or disregarded.
To test the activists’ perceptions against actual public attitudes, we inserted our questions into an ongoing public survey, Mexico, Americas, and the World, run by CIDE, a leading Mexican research institute. Their team administered our questions to a nationally representative sample of adults in Mexico (N=2,400) in 2012.
Based on that experience, we developed our Human Rights Perceptions Poll, a unique battery of questions about public attitudes towards human rights issues, activists, and organizations. We deployed the poll in Morocco and India in 2012 and in Nigeria in 2014. We surveyed representative samples of urban and rural populations in and around Rabat and Casablanca (N=1,100); India’s major financial capital, Mumbai (N=1,680); and Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos (N=1,000). We over-sampled rural populations and ethnic or religious minorities to gather sufficient data from marginalized perspectives. We weight our results to account for this over-sampling.

David Crow (All rights reserved)
Pilot testing the survey in Morocco, September 2012. 

We worked with local companies in each country to administer the surveys, including Data OPM in Mexico, LMS-CSA in Casablanca, Team C-Voter in Delhi, and Practical Sampling International in Lagos.
We chose these countries for a variety of reasons. They differ dramatically on factors such as history, colonial background, religious tradition, language, and region. Given this variation, any cross-country similarities powerfully suggest broader global trends.
Yet the four cases also meet conditions that make studying rights meaningful and safe. They all have substantial, rights-inclined civil societies, and all have sufficient political freedom for members of the public to express political views and for pollsters to ask about human rights. Finally, all have pressing human rights problems attracting both domestic and international attention and mobilization efforts.

Data-based optimism

Our findings leave us cautiously optimistic about the human rights movement’s prospects, even in this era of increasing  government hostility towards civil society. We have published several articles from the data (see herehere and here), and are working on a book. Cumulatively, our findings leave us cautiously optimistic about the human rights movement’s prospects, even in this era of increasing government hostility towards civil society.
Consider Figure 1, which reports average responses to the question, “How strongly do you associate [phrase] with ‘human rights?’”  We asked about positive-sounding phrases, including “protecting people from torture and murder”, “promoting socio-economic justice”, and “promoting free and fair elections”; negative-sounding phrases including “protecting criminals”, “protecting terrorists”, “not protecting or promoting anyone’s interests”; and associating human rights with foreign intervention: “promoting United States interests” and “promoting foreign values and ideas.”
In all countries but Mexico, we also asked whether respondents associated “human rights” with “protecting women’s rights”, a particularly hot-button issue for rights activists worldwide.
We asked each respondent to rank the strength of their association from 1, the weakest score, to 7, the strongest. A score of 4, the midpoint, indicates respondent neutrality; scores below that indicate little or no association, while scores above that indicate an increasingly strong association.
We found some remarkably consistent results. Across all four cases, respondents were far more likely to associate human rights with positive sounding than negative-sounding phrases. Ordinary people, in other words, feel more warmth than chill towards the term, “human rights”.
Associations of human rights with foreign intervention, moreover, received little support. Weighting each country’s scores equally, the average four-country association between human rights and “promoting U.S. interests” or “promoting foreign values and ideas” was a weak 3.6, below the neutral midpoint.
Remarkably, publics also strongly associate “human rights” with “protecting women’s rights”, suggesting the women’s movement is tightly linked in the public mind with its human rights counterpart.
Figure 2 offers other promising news. We asked the 6,000+ respondents about their trust in all manner of international and domestic institutions, which we express on a range from 0 to 1, or “no trust” to “a lot of trust”. Once again, we calculate an average score for each institution to which each country contributes equally.
In all four countries, local rights groups scored towards the top of the public’s institutional trust spectrum.
Across all cases, publics express high trust in religious institutions, whose four-country average is 0.65 on the 0 (least trust) to 1 (most trust) scale. Politicians, by contrast, were among the public’s least trusted actors, with an abysmal four-country average of 0.32. Local rights groups’ average of 0.52 places them in the upper end of this 0.32 to 0.65 range.
Taken together, Figures 1 and 2 suggest that across diverse world regions, publics view human rights and local human rights organizations with favor. When we combine those who highly trust LHROs with those who most strongly associate human rights with “promoting socio economic justice” and “protecting people from torture and murder,” we find that 23% of the public, on average, are hard-core human rights supporters.
Our polls may be overly optimistic, but the odds of over 6,000 randomly selected respondents responding in remarkably consistent ways across very different countries seem low. Instead, our polls likely reveal an underlying global trend obscured in polarized, elite-level debates: ordinary people do generally support human rights ideas and groups, even though both are often widely criticized in the media.
Human rights professionals work in highly contentious settings, where critics often allege that human rights ideas and NGOs are motivated by ill intentions or the agendas of foreign powers. Ordinary people, however, seem less inclined to believe the worst of rights-based actors.
More work is required to test and extend our findings, but our research suggests that human rights promoters have reason for optimism.

HHH Sherry Gray: "China's success is in the U.S. interest"

Reprinted from Star Tribune:

COMMENTARY 311520351

China's success is in the U.S. interest

Time, resources and governance are key to the global giant’s ‘peaceful rise.’ 
In the United States and China both, our big public questions reflect our anxieties about one another, and in recent years the focus has been on the “rise of China.” Since the late 1990s, there have been questions on both sides, with the Chinese wondering “how to manage our rise without antagonizing the U. S.?” and Americans asking, “What will China’s rise mean for our role in the world and our prosperity?”
The rise and fall of concern in the U.S. seems as much related to domestic issues as it does to changes in China. (When I started my teaching career in the early 1990s, the focus in my political economy courses was on the challenge posed by Japan and the Asian “Tiger” economies.)
Fears of a resurgent China are not new. After the end of World War II and the rise to power of the Chinese Communist Party, hysteria broke out in the U.S. about “red hordes” and “yellow peril,” and, later in the 1960s, about “blue ants” swarming over the U.S. The infamous McCarthy political purges of the 1950s targeted China specialists first.
But neither is the reality of the U.S. confronting China new. China and the U.S. fought two wars (Korea and Vietnam), and the U.S. today maintains military bases and naval and air patrols that surround China completely. The Chinese cannot take a step outside their coastal waters without risking a confrontation with the U.S. 7th Fleet.
This can be really annoying to many Chinese political analysts, but China cannot affect that the U.S. is a global power and also an Asian power. China sometimes challenges the U.S. position, and the world is taking note of the resurgent leadership under Xi Jinping showing a bit more assertiveness in the region.
When thinking about China, it is useful to look at a map and understand the regional context. Do American and Chinese citizens share perspectives of our place in the world? (Do we even see the same world?) Put yourself in China, look around the neighborhood and think about the obvious relationships. China is big, but in a complicated neighborhood. With a land area about the size of Europe — the fourth-largest, after Russia, Canada and the U.S. — China dominates the east of the Eurasian continent. Its continental competitors are Russia and India, but mountains and deserts limit those competitions. It has had border issues with nearly every one of its 14 neighboring countries and has fought border wars with Russia, Vietnam and India in the past five decades. The main territorial issue today remains a solution to the Taiwan dilemma, but there are serious areas of dispute in the South and East China seas islands disputed with Japan and nearly every ASEAN member (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
We need to keep scale in mind, and the sheer size of China reflects why everyone else on the planet has to pay attention. Today there are more than 150 metropolitan areas in China with more than a million people; as of 2012, more than half of the population was urban (it was only 20 percent in early 1980s).
Some Chinese were gloating in recent years, pointing to economic and political problems in the U.S., Japan and Europe, with a lot of Internet traffic about the decline of the West and the rise of China. But what Xi Jinping and the Chinese leadership worry about are three things: time, resources and governance.
China is in a race to make the transition into being a high-middle-income country (like South Korea or Spain) before time (a demographic bubble and the rise of other economies) and resources (population, energy, productive environment) run out, and it is trying to create good governance at the same time.
A closer look at these issues:
China is in a race against demographics, jobs creation and environmental disaster.
The median age of Chinese citizens is about 35 years, compared with about 36 years in the United States, but by 2050, the United Nations estimates that China’s median age will be 45 (compared with 43 in the U.K. and 41 in the U.S.), and heavily male.
Growing enough jobs is a key part of this race as employment and labor unrest are tied to unemployment and underemployment. China’s labor force is nearly 800 million, with more than 100 million, or about 13 percent of the population, below the poverty line. Annually, 25 million job seekers enter the market in China.
China’s unemployment rate is officially between 3 percent and 7 percent, but anecdotal evidence is that unemployment or underemployment are higher than reported. A crisis persists in a shortage of educated employees, with high unemployment for college students graduating from “mid-level” universities.
The International Labor Organization estimates that about 150 million adults are underemployed (surplus labor) in the rural areas, and most of these are part of the “floating population.” China will need to create 300 million new jobs over the next decade to compensate for job losses in agriculture and former state-owned enterprises.
Meanwhile, there’s the question of whether China will implement cleaner manufacturing before it pollutes its soil and water beyond limit. This is a race between modernization and environmental destruction.
The issue of resources is often covered in the global press and will be familiar to readers. China needs sufficient and affordable energy and raw materials to continue as the “world’s workshop,” but it is facing the loss of one-fifth of arable land since 1949, the need to develop research and development, and education for its vast population, especially rural.
Polluted air, water and land, water shortages, and food taint scares all contribute to growing unease throughout China, while rising labor costs and global economic competition mean that China’s labor is getting more expensive as new economies enter global manufacturing.
The central government battles pervasive regionalism, and Xi Jinping has taken on corrupt, greedy and independent local officials, to general popular approval. China still suffers from inadequate and unenforced legal and regulatory systems, and from understaffed and undertrained civil agencies, which are often prone to political interference.
Political unrest related to regional issues, often around land seizures or polluting industries and a nationalist response to international issues, has spawned a more active citizenry, while leaders note that the Sunflower Movement in Taiwan or the Umbrella Occupy Central in Hong Kong can easily become inspirational.
Other regional issues include the problem of domestic protectionism, with 91 percent invested in firms within their own provinces and 86 percent in their own city, and with the growing debt encumbrances of local and regional authorities.
China’s unique position as a developing country but also a donor country means that it intersects with the rest of the world from a dual position — poor and rich, vulnerable and powerful. Its rise to greater regional and global power is inevitable. The U.S. needs to understand the challenges facing the Chinese political establishment and the role this country can play in partnership to achieve what the Chinese leaders nicely call “a peaceful rise,” and we can start by recognizing the genuine achievements of China’s development and the importance its continued success has for our own interests.

Virtual Student Foreign Service Internship Program

The U.S. Department of State’s Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) eInternship program is bigger and better than ever!    Last year, 610 students were selected as eInterns.  In addition to contributing to important projects and work, eInterns are connected to each other through an online community and mentored by supervisors.
This year we have on offer more projects than ever.  And those projects represent  an even larger number of  U.S. Government agencies – 15 in total.

VSFS is a way for the American public and government employees to collaborate on projects of global importance.   Selected applicants will  volunteer up to 10 hours per week contributing to projects for an office or section from September 2015 through May 2016.   As eInterns, they will  play an important role in advancing the federal government’s reach in diplomacy, development, space, journalism, trade, environment, health, agriculture, technology, and housing initiatives. Together, we can create a more effective, efficient, and smarter government that takes advantage of an engaged and participatory citizenry. 
The more than 330 projects available this year can be found here.   Students can apply between July 2 – 22 on USAJobs to their top three projects from among those submitted by the following agencies:
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Weather Service
  • Peace Corps
  • The Smithsonian Institution
  • U.S. Agency for International Development
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Department of Commerce
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Applicants must  be U.S. citizens enrolled in university level courses in the U.S. or abroad.  Last year, we had students in programs ranging from undergraduate to PhD levels, both full and part-time, taking courses in person or online.  A resume, transcript, and statement of interest are required as part of the application process.  Interviews may be conducted in August.  eInternships are unpaid and do not require a security clearance or travel.
Visit our forums if you have any questions, or to search for topics of interest. The forums can be found under Connect on the website. You can also search our FAQs for more information.

Fulbright Canada Programs for US Students, Postdocs & Scholars

I am writing today to encourage you, your colleagues, and your students to apply to the Fulbright Canada Programs.  You will find below a list of all our programs for American Scholars and Students that I would encourage you to share.   Your expertise in identifying and encouraging American candidates to apply would be much appreciated.  If there are particular candidates that you would like us to follow up with, please send their contact information to Brad Hector (, Program Officer for Scholars.  Awards for American Students follows.  Please, also, feel free to reach out to me directly.

Applicants can apply to the:
Ø  Distinguished Chairs ProgramUS$35,000 for one semester (4 months)
Ø  Visiting Research Chairs ProgramUS$25,000 for one semester (4 months)
Ø  Traditional (All Disciplines) AwardUS$12,500 for one semester (4 months), or US$25,000 for a full academic year (9 months)
Ø  Fulbright-Carlos Rico Award for North American StudiesUS$12,500 for one semester in Canada plus US$2,300 per month in Mexico
Ø  Specialist ProgramShort-term collaboration on curriculum and faculty development, institutional planning and a variety of other activities at Canadian institutions.

Research Theme Links

Instructional video: Awards for US Scholars
Inquiries: Brad Hector, Program Officer (Scholars),  

Core Facts about the awards
·        The Fulbright Canada competition for American scholars is now open, and closes August 3, 2015
·        The competition is for awards taken up September 2016 and/or January 2017

·        Candidates must be U.S. citizens, 
·        Hold a Ph.D. or equivalent professional/terminal degree as appropriate. Candidates outside academia (e.g., professionals, artists) with recognized professional standing and substantial professional accomplishments are also eligible
·        Be proficient in English

Graduate Students can apply to the:
Ø  Traditional Fulbright student awardsUS$15,000 for one nine-month academic year. These all-discipline awards can be taken up at any college, university, think tank, or government agency in Canada.
Ø  Fulbright-mtvU FellowshipsGrants are for one nine-month academic year. Projects should center around research on an aspect of international musical culture, and should focus on contemporary or popular music as a cultural force for expression or change. 
Ø  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) AwardsValued at US$120,000 for three academic years, this award is for students in STEM fields who wish to study at one of six top-ranked partner research institutions in Canada.
Ø  Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling FellowshipsGrants are for one nine-month academic year. Digital storytelling projects (using text, photography, video, audio, graphic illustrations, and/or social media) can take place in up to three countries on a globally significant theme.

Core Facts about the awards
·        Fulbright Canada competition for American graduate students is now open, and closes on
October 13, 2015
·        The competition is for awards taken up for one 9-month academic year starting September 2016 

·        Candidates must be American citizens, 
·        Be in receipt of a bachelor's degree prior to the proposed start date of the grant, and

Inquiries: Michelle Emond, Program Officer (Students),  

Fulbright Canada at a glance:
·        With approximately 360,000 Fulbright alumni in more than 155 countries, the Fulbright program is the gold standard in academic exchange and a leader in public diplomacy.
·        The Foundation for Educational Exchange between Canada and the United States of America (Fulbright Canada) is a binational, treaty-based, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization with a mandate to identify the best and brightest minds in both countries and engage them in residential academic exchange.
·        The mandate of Fulbright Canada is to enhance mutual understanding between the people of Canada and the people of the United States of America by providing support to outstanding individuals. These individuals conduct research, lecture, or enroll in formal academic programs in the other country. In doing so, Fulbright Canada aims to grow intellectual capacity, increase productivity, and assist in the shaping of future leaders.
·        For more information


Dr. Michael K. Hawes
Chief Executive Officer / Président-directeur général
Fulbright Canada
2015-350 rue Albert Street  Ottawa, Canada K1R1A4
t. 613.688.5509;   f. 613.237.2029;  

Program Officer, External Relations
Agente de programmes, Relations externes
Fulbright Canada
2015-350 rue Albert Street Ottawa, ON  K1R 1A4

Forwarded by Dean Eric Schwartz

Mexican Government Excellence Scholarships

Dear friends of the Consulate of Mexico in Saint Paul in Universities,

It pleases me to share with you the 2015 Call for the Mexican Government Excellence Scholarships for Special Programs offered by the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID):

The scholarships are for American citizens interested in participating in any of the following programs:

-          “Visiting Teachers”: scholarships for experts, researchers and faculty associated to a higher education institution or a research center, invited by a Mexican higher education institution or research center to dictate special lectures, courses, workshops, seminars, etc. Candidates must have a PhD or a distinguished career as a teacher/researcher in the area of knowledge that forms the basis of the visit to Mexico. Candidates must comply with a minimum of four hours work per week. Stay duration: minimum 1 month, maximum 6 months.

-          “High Level Conferences”: scholarships for faculty, researchers and experts that have been invited to dictate high level conferences in Mexican higher education institutions, research centers or cultural centers. Candidates must have a PhD or a distinguished career as a teacher/researcher in the area of knowledge that forms the basis of the visit to Mexico. Stay duration: minimum 5 days, maximum 1 month.

-          “Genaro Estrada Scholarship for Mexico Experts”: scholarships for faculty or researchers with a distinguished career in research related to Mexican topics, for a research stay in higher education institutions, archives, libraries, research centers or cultural institutions in Mexico. Candidates must be researchers and experts with a distinguished career in research and with publications on any subject area related to Mexico. They should have a research project approved by a tutor in the Mexican institution where they will be working. Stay: minimum 1 month, maximum 1 year.

-          “Improving the Quality of Mexican Higher Education Institutions”: scholarships for experts in education and for internationalization officials, to dictate conferences, courses, workshops and exchange best practices with their Mexican counterparts as to improve the quality, management, internationalization and direction of public higher education institutions in Mexico. Stay duration: minimum 5 days, maximum 1 month.

The Call will remain open until August 14, 2015 and submissions must be presented at least one month before the desired start date in Mexico. Stays must start between May and October 2015.

All of the requested application documents can be submitted to the Consulate of Mexico in Saint Paul in lieu of the Embassy of Mexico in the United States.

Kind regards,


Mónica Cruz Zorrilla
Asuntos Comunitarios
Community Affairs

Consulado de México en Saint Paul
797 E 7th Street
Saint Paul, MN 55106
© 2015 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy Statement