IHP Human Rights: Foundations, Challenges, and Advocacy

Faculty and Staff

The faculty/staff team shown on this page is a sample of the individuals who may lead your specific program. Faculty and coordinators are subject to change to accommodate each program’s unique schedule and locations.

Program Director
Padmini Biswas
Program Manager
Chris Westcott
Country Coordinators
Dema Al Oun,
Jordan Coordinator
Radoš Piletić
Chile Coordinator
Yanik Shrestha,
Nepal Coordinator
Traveling Faculty
Padmini Biswas, Fall Irina Ceric
Noam Schimmel, Spring Clelia Rodriguez, Spring
Trustees' Fellows
Anna Gail Caunca, Fall Rachel Reider, Spring

Padmini Biswas

Padmini Biswas, PhD
Program Director
Padmini Biswas received her doctorate in urban planning from Columbia University in 2011. She has a master's degree with distinction from the London School of Economics and Political Science (2001), and dual undergraduate degrees in English literature (Vassar College, 1997) and civil engineering (The Cooper Union, 2000). Her dissertation research compared the organizing strategies of highly skilled and low-skilled South Asian immigrants in the New York metropolitan area in their respective campaigns for labor rights, each of which engaged international human rights law in pursuit of economic justice. She has served for several years as the assistant director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, a forum for research in critical geography at the CUNY Graduate Center. From 1999 to 2003, she founded and edited Salt, a community-based literary journal supported by the New York State Council on the Arts.

Chris Westcott

Chris Westcott, MA, Program Manager
Chris is a social justice educator, and changemaker based in Brooklyn, New York. Chris’s professional background combines experience working with social change–oriented study abroad programs, along with on-the-ground experience with grassroots US-based and international NGOs. Before becoming program manager of the Human Rights and Climate Change programs, Chris was a traveling faculty member, then country coordinator with the Cities program. Additionally, Chris was a program facilitator for two years on CIEE Thailand’s study abroad program focusing on globalization and development. Through his work experience with NGOs, Chris has coordinated NYC-based campaigns for worker’s rights and the right to housing and international campaigns for trade justice and sustainable agriculture. For three years, Chris worked in San Francisco as a founding staff member of ENGAGE, a network that organizes returned study abroad students to effect local and global change. Chris has a BA in environmental studies from Bates College, and an MA in international educational development from Columbia University. While at Columbia, Chris was a teaching assistant for courses on social identity, social change, and human rights education.

Dema Al Oun
Country Coordinator, Jordan
Dema received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law from Jordan University. She has completed her required legal training and is expecting to take the Jordanian Bar exam shortly. She is qualified in many aspects of both civil and criminal law within Jordan and has completed over 35 training courses in legal issues. These courses dealt with civil and criminal law, and several pertained specifically to the rights of the child or the rights of women. Additionally, she is trained in international treaties and agreements pertaining to related human rights issues. Since 2004, she has volunteered at the National Center for Human Rights in Jordan, and is a member of Talal Abu-Ghazala, a famous law firm in Jordan which trains in civil and criminal law. Her past experience includes two and a half years in a law firm as a legal trainer. She has been the homestay coordinator at SIT since 2008, and was advisor for SIT students studying topics related to women, culture, and youth.

Radoš Piletić
Country Coordinator, Chile
Radoš Piletić is senior development consultant with the Observatorio Ciudadano, a Chilean human rights organization with niche expertise in the rights of indigenous people, political participation, and globalization and human rights. Previously, he was senior development officer at the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in Geneva, Switzerland, where he contributed to building the capacity of the ICJ's regional programs in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and the CIS, and Latin America. Prior to the ICJ he worked as senior development officer at the NYU School of Law, strengthening the work of the school's public interest, human rights, environmental law, and international studies centers and institutes. Earlier, he worked as a development officer for the New York Foundation for the Arts. Radoš holds a master's degree in international affairs from the New School University. He has conducted research on international cultural policy in post-conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina; amnesties in the peace processes in Chile, Mozambique, and Cambodia; and assessment of human rights in Chile. He is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, and lives with his family in Santiago, Chile.


Yanik Shrestha

Yanik Shrestha
Country Coordinator, Nepal
Yanik is the director of Passage International, which facilitates experiential education and global understanding by creating opportunities for students to live and learn abroad. He has been working intermittently with study abroad programs since 2002. He has also assisted in guiding several treks in Nepal and India, for Passage as well as for other trek operators.

A man with eclectic tastes and passion, in 2002 Yanik participated in the No Education: No Freedom, No Opportunity seminar in Germany, organized by GTZ, on “whether education should be liberalized or not.” He was involved in an Antenna Foundation project — a dramatized TV series broadcast on the national TV channel that raised issues on women’s rights and attempted to break taboos through the program. He had the opportunity to work with two of Nepal's most acclaimed comedians Madan Krishna Shrestha and Hari Bansha Acharya during the project. He has been working in radio since 2005, first with Hits FM 91.2, a 24-hour commercial radio station. At present he is associated with Revolution Radio, an online radio station. He is also a part of a hip-hop/slam poetry group, Word Warriors. The group has played a big role in inspiring other young poets to use poetry and music as mediums of expression.

Irina Ceric
Traveling Faculty
Irina is completing a PhD in law at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in Toronto, where she also obtained her JD and master's degrees. Her doctoral research explores the political economy of post-socialist law and development, situating transition, human rights regimes, and the rule of law as sites of contestation. She has taught courses on law and social change, sociology of law, and law and gender at Osgoode Hall, York University, and Ryerson University. A member of the Bars of New York and Ontario, Irina has practiced criminal, constitutional and human rights law and also has experience in poverty law and community legal clinics. Irina is a long-time social justice activist, with extensive experience in movement legal defense, indigenous solidarity work, and community-based organizing. Raised in Toronto but born in the former Yugoslavia, Irina also continues to work with social movements in the Balkans. She has published on topics related to law and social change, sovereignty, and the politics of rights, and she is an associate editor of Interface a journal for and about social movements and the Transnational Human Rights Review.

Noam Schimmel
Traveling Faculty
Noam Schimmel earned a BA in English and political science from Yale University in 2002 and an MSc in philosophy, policy, and social value from the London School of Economics in 2004. His master’s thesis explored the application of human rights law to street children. He is currently completing a PhD at the London School of Economics on the rhetoric of American presidents who attempted to expand and/or universalize healthcare and the ethical principles that inspired their proposed reforms. He has volunteered extensively in the area of international development, advocating for the rights of street children and indigenous people and the pursuit of restorative justice for survivors of the Rwandan genocide. Since interning with the Office of the Prosecutor at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 2008 he has published in the Journal of Human Rights on the human rights challenges facing Rwandan genocide survivors and in other journals on a range of human rights issues including the responsibility of the media to report on human rights violations. Noam is a passionate traveler and has had particularly formative experiences volunteering and living in South Africa, India, Argentina, Tanzania, and Rwanda.

Clelia Rodriguez

Clelia Rodriguez
Traveling Faculty
Clelia O. Rodríguez is joining SIT after teaching at the University of Toronto; Washington College; and, most recently, the University of Ghana. She received her BA, with specialized honors, in Spanish literature from York University and earned her MA and PhD degrees from the University of Toronto, specializing in contemporary Spanish literature. She also completed the Graduate Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies at the Women & Gender Studies Institute, also at the University of Toronto. 

In her doctoral dissertation, she conducted research in Equatorial Guinea in order to examine the narratives of four contemporary Equatorial Guinean writers whose texts are bound together by their attempt to question and re-write the history of their country through fictional discourse. Although her research focused on this Spanish-speaking African country, she possesses international expertise conducting interdisciplinary research and teaching drawing on cultural, gender, transoceanic, memory, trauma, and postcolonial studies (Spain, Mexico, Cuba, the United States, El Salvador, Ghana, and Canada).

The bulk of her teaching and professional development at the undergraduate and graduate levels has centered primarily on ethical questions of justice and human rights in regards to the personal and political agency of marginalized individuals and societies throughout the globe in fictional and non-fictional literary and cultural texts.

Anna Gail Caunca

Anna Gail Caunca
Trustees' Fellow
Anna Gail is based in Wellington, New Zealand, where she has worked the past two and a half years in residential life, building community, managing residential assistants, and overseeing the well-being and academic support of first-year students studying at Victoria University.

Her previous work experience focused in the areas of youth leadership development, community building, international education, and social justice. Building on her graduate studies in international education and social justice, Anna Gail has worked with World Learning’s youth leadership and peacebuilding programs, facilitating workshops with the Governor’s Institute of Vermont on Current Issues and Youth Activism and travelling with and supporting students through the LondonX and Iraqi Youth Leadership Program for two years.

Anna Gail has a BS in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She graduated from SIT Graduate Institute with an MA in intercultural service, leadership, and management and received her educator’s licensure in secondary education: social studies, incorporating social justice in the classroom. She is a vegetarian, photographer in the making, and running enthusiast with a hearty laugh.

Rachel Reider

Rachel Reider
Trustees' Fellow
A 2010 alumna of the Health and Community program, Rachel is passionate about creating equal opportunity and believes in the power of both collective action and community-based solutions. In 2011 she received her BA in human biology and international relations from Brown University, focusing her studies on the social determinants and causes of international public health issues. She currently works for Feeding America, assessing gaps and implementing programmatic changes in order to alleviate childhood hunger in the Upper Midwest. She works extensively with public sector programs, collaborating with nonprofit organizations and community partners to ensure effective, holistic, and compassionate delivery of services.

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Credits: 16

Duration: Fall or Spring, 15 weeks

Program Sites:
New York, NY, USA; Kathmandu, Nepal; Amman, Jordan; Santiago, Chile Read more...

Prerequisites: Coursework in social sciences (anthropology, history, economics, sociology, and/or political science). Learn More...

Human Rights: Foundations, Challenges, and Advocacy Itinerary

Fall or Spring Itinerary

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Fall 2013 Evaluations


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