Student Volunteer Program


Wu Chen
2016 Graduate student Wu Chen interviews Chief Rwot of the Acholi tribe as part of a documentary project in Uganda.

The Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) invites advanced undergraduate and graduate human rights students throughout Columbia to apply for an eight-week summer internship with alumni of the Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) and the Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability Program (AHDA). Students selected to participate in the Student Volunteers Program (SVP) will receive a travel grant of $1800 from ISHR.

SVP enables students to expand their own professional skills and human rights knowledge and experience through fieldwork with participating grassroots human rights organizations.

Application Details

To apply, students should email a cover letter and resume to with the subject line “SVP application - [Name of Organization].” The application deadline is 11:59 PM EDT on March 15, 2020. Please indicate the organization(s) that you are interested in working with, and the relevance of this work to your studies. ISHR staff will conduct interviews in March. Applications and interview results will then be sent to the hosting organizations, which may request interviews. Final decisions will be announced by mid-April. Students are asked to confirm their participation in the program no later than the end of March by submitting a Memorandum of Understanding about their participation in the program, as well as provide proof of medical insurance that includes medevac.


Margo Goll
In 2015, graduate student Margo Goll volunteered with the Hope Development Initiative in Uganda.

Please note that the disbursement of the $1500 stipend may take 4-6 weeks. There is no way to expedite this so you should have funds available to move forward if chosen. Students are solely responsible for arranging and purchasing their own plane tickets, accommodation, and other expenses incurred during their internship. Students are solely responsible for identifying their own accommodations, although some organizations may assist students in finding housing options. Students are solely responsible for obtaining a visa if one is necessary.

Please make sure to read each internship description carefully and to review each organization’s website. If selected for an interview with the host organization, be sure to identify questions in advance regarding both the internship itself and accommodation options.

Students coordinate the exact start and end dates of their internship directly with the hosting organization prior to their departure, but must commit to volunteering for a minimum of 8 weeks. 

Preference is given to advanced undergraduates and first-year graduate students who expect to continue their studies at Columbia University in the fall, unless otherwise specified in the posting. Upon their return, students will be expected to discuss their volunteer experience at brown bags sponsored by ISHR as well as a written report to ISHR about their volunteer experience. We encourage participants to contribute an analytical article to ISHR's human rights blog, RightsViews, based on their experience as well. Please review the RightsViews submission process and policies if you are interested in contributing.

Please contact with any questions. Please do not directly contact the organizations or their affiliated personnel.