Kathryn Libal, PhD

Director, Human Rights Institute (Affiliate)

Associate Professor of Policy Practice, School of Social Work

Research Overview

My research interests broadly speaking address the intersection of human rights, social welfare and the state, with a focus on economic and social rights (health, education, housing, food, wages, etc.). I am currently doing qualitative research on food justice advocacy in the Northeast, as part of a larger project to examine the localization of human rights norms and practices in the United States. In part of this work, I examine efforts to foster participation of low income groups in local and state policy making, particularly related to child welfare, housing and food insecurity. This work intersects well with new initiatives through the Rudd Center and Collaboratory on School and Child Health (CSCH). I am also initiating a new pilot project to better understand refugee decision making, focusing on the case of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Turkey, Greece and other parts of the European Union. I seek to do grant writing (NSF seems a good fit) to examine how forced migrants experience access to resources (especially housing, food, and health care services) as they migrate from Syria to other EU countries. The project builds upon qualitative research on the politics of humanitarian assistance to Iraqi refugees that I conducted with Scott Harding from 2007-2010. My linguistic abilities in Turkish make Turkey a strong site in which to begin research this summer. I will be seeking collaborative research partners in the region and InCHIP’s networking capacity and grant writing support may be a helpful piece of moving this project forward. Finally, I have a particular interest in contributing to human rights theory/practice related to children’s rights and am part of the steering committee for CSCH


BA, Comparative Religion, Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR, 1990

MA, Anthropology, University of Washington, 1993

PhD, Anthropology, University of Washington, 2001

Recent Publications

Contact Information
Mailing AddressHuman Rights Institute
405 Babbidge Road, Unit 2015 Storrs, CT 06269