The Lowenstein Human Rights Project is an extracurricular human rights group. Through the Lowenstein Project, small teams of students work on specific human rights issues, usually on behalf of, and with guidance from, a human rights or other public interest NGO. Teams conduct research, write memoranda, engage in advocacy activities, and organize events at the law school. The Lowenstein Project was founded in 1981 and named in honor of Allard K. Lowenstein, a U.S. Congressman and pioneering human rights activist. Jim Silk is the Project's faculty adviser. The Lowenstein Project regularly works with leading U.S.-based international human rights organizations as well as smaller organizations headquartered in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Most of the projects that students carry out through the Lowenstein Project are developed in cooperation with outside organizations. But students are also encouraged to initiate their own projects and solicit volunteers through the Lowenstein Project. The Lowenstein Project holds an organizational meeting each fall to recruit new members and discuss possible projects.
If your organization is interested in working with the Lowenstein Project, please reach out to one of the student directors, whose contact information is listed at the bottom of this page. We are always looking for new projects and organizations that need our help the most.
Developing New Projects for the Lowenstein Project
The Lowenstein Project co-directors typically begin project development over the summer before each academic year begins. We work with staff members of human rights or public interest NGOs to develop projects that address existing research needs within the organizations and that are also tailored to the capabilities and skills of YLS students. Students can be recruited to conduct research on domestic or foreign laws, policies, or advocacy strategies, depending on what information would be of most use to the organization's ongoing work. Please contact us for examples of previous research projects if this would assist you in formulating a project proposal.
Once a research proposal has been generated, a group of 2–6 students is assigned to work on the research or advocacy project. The students begin working on the project in late September or early October and finish the project by mid-to-late December. Depending on how many students express interest in a project, between 20–120 hours can be devoted to the research. All research and writing is completed at Yale using university resources, so students do not incur any expenses.
Organizations typically begin communicating with their assigned students by either having an on-site meeting or through scheduling a conference call. As part of this initial contact, organizations are expected to provide students with a description of the project they are to complete, additional background information, and where possible, a sense of where to locate the resources needed to complete the project. A staff member of the organization works as the students’ supervisor and is expected to maintain regular contact with the group throughout the semester to provide feedback and guidance on the research being generated.
At the end of the semester, students submit their work product to the organization, which can take the form of a memorandum, sections of a brief, a set of recommendations, or simply a summary of the research they have conducted.