Sunday, February 26, 2017

Humphrey Fellow Ofori-Amanfo on The Untold Stories of Widows


Widowhood within some cultures in Africa and other countries is characterized by degrading and inhumane rituals that can amount to torture. These rituals inflict grave abuse of widows. The encyclopedia of Death and Dying in its report, “Widows in Third World Nations” reported that

“…in Nigeria … a widow may be forced to have sex with her husband’s brothers, “the first stranger she meets on the road,” or some other designated male. This “ritual cleansing by sex” is thought to exorcise the evil spirits associated with death, and if the widow resists this ordeal, it is believed that her children will suffer harm. In the context of AIDS and polygamy, this “ritual cleansing” is not merely repugnant but also dangerous. The widow may be forced to drink the water that the corpse has been washed in; be confined indoors for up to a year; be prohibited from washing, even if she is menstruating, for several months; be forced to sit naked on a mat and to ritually cry and scream at specific times of the day and night…”

Read the entire article The Advocates for Human Rights' blog.

Abigail Ofori-Amanfo, a 2016-17 Humphrey Fellow at University of Minnesota is completing her professional affiliation with The Advocates for Human Rights. A women’s right activist, she works to educate rural women and girls in Ghana on their rights and what steps they can take to prevent them from being violated.

Andrea Martínez (MHR) at Human Rights Workshop in Mexico

Master of Human Rights candidate Andrea Martínez is not only a student at the Humphrey School, but also part of the Human Rights Organizations Project (HROP) team, led by Professor James Ron, as a Research Assistant. HROP just finished the first year of an exciting two-year project in cooperation with Mexican academic institutions – FLACSO and CIDE.  

On February 2, 2017, Andrea and José Kaire, a PhD student in the Political Science department, participated in a conference that included a workshop with more than 20 local human rights organizations (LHROs) in Mexico City.

The objective of the conference was to present the findings of HROP’s comprehensive research about the potential for local funding of Mexican LHROs. The study included a survey of leaders of 34 Mexican LHROs and a representative survey of 960 adults from the general public in Mexico City on their perceptions of human right and willingness to donate to human rights organizations. Additionally, HROP’s team conducted two survey experiments to learn more about the public’s giving behavior. Professor James Ron and his team presented the results and findings of the representative survey during this conference.

During the conference, Andrea listened to LHROs’ thoughts and opinions about the findings and learned more about their interests. She was also able to get to know attendees throughout the morning; these relationships will prove to be very important given her future work with the organizations.

As part of the project, Andrea and José will travel to Mexico City over the summer (2017) to work with those organizations. They will help the LHROs analyze the survey data and use it for developing effective funding strategies, advocacy campaigns, or in a way the organizations see fit. Essentially, they will be applying the findings from the research. The final goal is for organizations to effectively use data to support their current strategies and, hopefully, gain more local financial support by reaching out to and connecting with Mexico City residents. This is a unique project that shows the potential for effective advocacy strategies trough the cooperation between academia and NGOs.

Andrea has a BA in Political Science and International Relations from CIDE in Mexico. She won the first place of the International Contest on Public Security, Victimization, and Justice in Latin America. She worked for three years at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs on projects aimed to improve the conditions of vulnerable Mexican migrants abroad.   

HHH students by Mar 1--UNDP internships, Latin Am/Caribbean, may be available

HHH students interested in UNDP LAC internships please send your resume/cover letter to cbuckley(at) HHH Career Services Internship Coordinator Christopher Buckley by March 1. The United Nations Development Programme in Latin America and Caribbean has many internship opportunities available.

Mar 29 Global Movement against Gender Violence

Ni Una Menos:The Activists behind the Global Movement against Gender Violence

March 29, 2017
1:00 -2:30 pm
Humphrey School Forum

March 1st: Saha Global- Virtual Info Session

We at Saha Global will host a “virtual info session” on Wednesday, March 1st to connect with any students who may be interested in our work. In the past we've had a lot of interest from University of Minnesota, and we're looking for you to join us this summer!

Participants have found this program particularly valuable in growing their professional experience for careers in Public Health, Engineering, Environmental Science, International Relations and Development, and African Studies. We’ll cover what it’s like to:
  • Work with a rural community to build a clean water or solar electricity business
  • Teach local women entrepreneurs how to run it
  • Educate hundreds of families about the benefits of clean water and green energy
Interested folks can RSVP or check out
This education abroad opportunity is not affiliated with the University of Minnesota and has not been fully vetted. Notification of an opportunity should not be construed as an endorsement by the University of Minnesota. For information regarding participation on
any opportunity abroad, contact the Learning Abroad Center on the Twin Cities campus. All other campuses should consult the appropriate education abroad office for their campus.

Summer Seminars in Catholic Intell Trad for grad studs in humanities, soc sciences

Summer Seminars in Rome, Oxford, and Santa Barbara
Now in their ninth year, the Lumen Christi Institute’s Summer Seminars in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition are open to graduate students in the humanities, social sciences, and other relevant areas of study. Room, board, and a travel stipend are included for those whose applications are accepted. Each seminar includes five days of intensive discussion based on close reading of the assigned texts as well as daily presentations given by the professor and student participants. A deep knowledge of the material is not required to apply. These seminars give participants mastery over the material under discussion, both for teaching and research purposes, and also deepen participants’ understanding and awareness of the Catholic intellectual tradition. For more information and to apply visit,

June 22-28
“Is God Knowable by Natural Reason? Philosophy, Theology, and Trinitarian Thought in the High Medieval Ages”
Mark Clark, Catholic University of America
Timothy B. Noone, Catholic University of America

In this seminar, scholar of medieval history Mark Clark and scholar of medieval philosophy Timothy Noone will offer an intensive survey of theological and philosophical debates about the natural knowledge of God in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Participants will read and discuss the writings Peter Abelard, Peter Lombard, Bonaventure, Albert the Great, and Thomas Aquinas as well as modern philosophical engagement with these questions.

July 9-15
“The Thought of John Henry Newman”
Fr. Ian Ker, University of Oxford
Merton College, Oxford
Now in its fifth consecutive year, this intensive seminar will examine Newman’s achievements as theologian, philosopher, educator, preacher, and writer. Remarkably, in each of these areas Newman produced works that have come to be recognized as classics: An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, The Grammar of Assent, The Idea of a University, The Parochial and Plain Sermons, and the Apologia Pro Vita Sua. This seminar will approach Newman’s thought through a critical engagement with these texts.

July 29-August 5
“Catholic Social Thought: A Critical Investigation”
Russell Hittinger, University of Tulsa
University of California, Santa Barbara
Now in its fourth year, this seminar will have students read, analyze, and discern continuities and discontinuities in Catholic Social Thought from the late 19th century to the present. Lectures, seminar reports, and discussion will focus on original sources (encyclicals and other magisterial documents), beginning with Rerum novarum (1892) and concluding with Caritas in veritate (2009) and Evangelii Gaudium (2013). This intensive course is multi-disciplinary, since this tradition of social thought overlaps several disciplines in the contemporary university including political science, political philosophy, law, economics, theology, and history.

Contact Info: Grace Wierenga at or (773) 955-5887.
Contact Email:

USIP 2 RFPs for peacebuilding grants

What Makes for Effective Peace Processes – A Comparative Approach

Peace processes continue to become increasingly complex due to the protracted and fluid nature of armed conflict, the shifting composition of actors, and the longer-term political consequences at stake. It is important, therefore, to generate new thinking about the growing challenges for peace processes and develop ideas for greater effectiveness. This USIP grant opportunity will support comparative research that will draw lessons about what is most effective in a peace process across contexts, and why and how these practices will enable negotiators and others engaged in conflict-affected societies to design, facilitate and implement more effective peace processes. The Institute expects to make three to five grants in the general range of $70,000-$100,000, with an implementation period from 10 to 24 months. The deadline for submitting initial concept notes is March 21, 2017. Awards will be made in September, 2017.

Reassessing Peacebuilding in Uncertain Times

The world today may be at a new turning point with potentially far-reaching implications for the peacebuilding community. The liberal international order is being tested as the international community is confronted with the consequences of state fragility and a range of highly correlated challenges related to international peace and security. In this uncertain and fluid context, USIP is inviting proposals from U.S.-based academic institutions, research and practitioner organizations and others for collaborative projects that reflect on, help clarify, and flesh out one or more key issues and propose new approaches and responses to peacebuilding challenges. USIP encourages proposals that draw on creative, multidisciplinary research and engage a diverse set of specialists from different institutions in a conference, workshop or roundtable series or other focused, deliberative program that will result in actionable policy recommendations, specific guidance about new field program design, or ideas for deeper, more focused policy-oriented research. USIP expects to make two to three grants in the range of $60,000 - $80,000 with a general implementation period from 10 to 18 months. The deadline for submitting initial concept notes is March 21, 2017. Awards will be made in September, 2017.

For more information about these USIP grant opportunities and the application process, please visit the Institute’s website at: .

Steven M. Riskin
Director, Grant Strategy
United States Institute of Peace
2301 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Phone: 202-429-3859
Fax: 202-429-6063

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