2020 Capstone Symposium

The Class of 2020 pursued a diverse range of Capstone projects to conclude their time in the Human Rights Program. From research reports to long-form journalism to original plays, the projects of the 2020 cohort of Human Rights Scholars embodied the multidisciplinary nature of the Program and of human rights.

Held via Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 Capstone Symposium offered graduating students the opportunity to share their work with their cohort and with friends and family members. Many of their presentations are available below.



Keerthana Annamaneni – Justice for the Wrongfully Convicted: Rethinking New Haven’s Pardon Process

Keerthana worked on a pardon petition for Stefon Morant, who was wrongfully convicted of two felony murder charges, and analyzed the obstacles that wrongfully convicted people in Connecticut face to achieving absolute pardon.



Siduri Beckman – The Individual and the Collective in Decarceration Advocacy: Observing the Human Rights of Individuals with Violent Offenses

After an internship at the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, Siduri explored in her capstone project how advocacy campaigns for decarceration consider or exclude people with violent offenses.



Michael Borger – “Le Muerden la Mano a Quien Les Quitó el Bozal”: Examining the Killings of Mexican Journalists Under the Current Presidency

Michael’s capstone analyzed the deaths of journalists murdered since the start of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s presidency and identified trends across the killings in order to elucidate the conditions and structures failing to protect members of the press in Mexico.



Jordan Cozby – Preservation and Elevation: Archiving the Interfaith Sanctuary Movement

For his capstone, Jordan created an online archive documenting and preserving materials from campaigns by faith organizations to safeguard undocumented immigrants in Connecticut threatened with deportation.



Hana Davis – The Revolution of Our Time: 2019 and Hong Kong’s Last Line of Defense

In her capstone––a marriage of memoir, journalism, and history––Hana wrote about the 2019 protests in Hong Kong and the city’s ongoing fight for autonomy, with a focus on how mainland Chinese encroachment and decades of protest have shaped collective identity for Hongkongers. Hana’s project drew on her own experience as a person born and raised in Hong Kong.



Hala El Solh – Illuminate: A Short Story on Syrian Journalist Disappearances

Motivated by her research with the Carter Center’s Syrian Conflict Mapping Project and her own Syrian heritage, Hala wrote a short story about the disappearance of a Syrian journalist and the subsequent search for him for her capstone. In addition to the conflict in Syria, a major theme of Hala’s capstone work was the capacity for fiction to contribute meaningfully to human rights discourse.



Jayashree Khemka – The Ethics of Storytelling in Human Rights

Interweaving personal reflection and philosophy, Jayashree’s capstone took the form of an op-ed series exploring what ethical storytelling looks like in human rights.



Zulfi Mannan – Seeking Paradise within Settler Colonialism

For their capstone, Zulfi created a multimedia essay focused on the potential of disruptive modes of public, artistic protest to challenge contemporary institutions and norms.



Lisa Qian – The Automation of Agency: How Machines Are Changing the Relationship Between Labor and Capital at Yale

Lisa’s capstone project analyzed how increased automation could affect labor power at Yale.



Branson Rideaux – Perplexities of Personhood: Living as Human Persons

Branson’s capstone project interrogated the concept of “personhood” at the foundation of human rights theory and how it is complicated by xenophobia, racism, and sexism. The Capstone took the form of a “performance essay” that was intended to be performed as part of the Satellite Festival 2020 at Yale Cabaret and, after the pandemic made live performance impossible, was adapted to video and is available online.



Marwan Safar Jalani – Crimes Against Syrian Human Plurality: Critiquing Legitimacy in Post-War Syria Under the Assad Regime

Marwan analyzed in his capstone what he argued is the intentional use of sectarianism by the Syrian government to inflame conflict and solidify power. He reflected on how Hannah Arendt’s concept of human plurality could further our understanding of crimes against humanity.



Dani Schulman – Empowerment Under Occupation: Fair Trade & Organic Agriculture in the West Bank

For her project, Dani recorded three interview-based podcasts that investigate existing farming and food models operating in the West Bank from a rights-based "food sovereignty" perspective.



Liana Wang – Explorations of Transnational Identity

Liana’s capstone, a short story that weaves together vignettes about characters with Asian heritage living in different locations around the world, considered how identity and culture interact with the cross-national legal and economic systems to at once separate and bring together diasporas.