Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights
Join passionate students from across the country at the Urban Morgan Institute, where we train students in international human rights law to advance global social justice.
Founded in 1979, Urban Morgan was the first endowed institute at an American law school devoted to international human rights law. We continue to be a leader in legal education today by providing our students with international human rights-focused courses, programs, internships, and experiential learning opportunities.
We are committed to producing the best human rights academic journal in the field, the Human Rights Quarterly. Urban Morgan students serve as editors for the multidisciplinary journal published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Distinguished Service Professor Bert Lockwood serves as director of the Institute and editor-in-chief of the journal. Professor Lockwood was recruited to lead the Institute at its founding due to his successful career as a human rights lawyer and groundbreaking legal educator, including serving as an associate dean at the American University Law School.
Opportunities for Students
Each year, the Urban Morgan Institute awards 10 to 15 fellowships, divided approximately in thirds between 1L, 2L and 3L students at Cincinnati Law. Arthur Russell Morgan Fellowships are given to outstanding law students who demonstrate a commitment to international human rights.
If you are interested in being an Arthur Russell Morgan Fellow, you must apply for the fellowship as an incoming first-year student. Fellowship awards are based on academic merit as well as previous human rights work and proficiency in foreign languages. If you are selected as a fellow, you receive an annual renewable $3,600 scholarship with an additional scholarship for an international summer experience between your first and second years of law school.
Incoming 1Ls: To apply, follow the normal application process for Cincinnati Law. In addition, submit the online fellowship application and include your resume and a statement of interest explaining your interest in human rights (typically 1-3 pages, single-spaced).
2Ls and 3Ls: The fellowships are renewed each year, with consideration given to your academic performance and work as a member of the Human Rights Quarterly editorial board.
Gain hands-on training at sites around the world during this vital element of the Institute’s program. We offer stipends that allow students with a passion for international law and human rights to work with human rights programs, organizations, and attorneys, international judges, governmental agencies, and UN bodies. Placements are based on your interests, availability, geographic preferences as well as foreign language abilities.
My summer experience with the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the University of Galway crystallized my interests in human rights and showed me what type of work is available to me in the future. My supervising professor, Dr. Maeve O’Rourke, included me in fascinating projects that covered topics such as women’s and gender rights, police brutality and torture, and freedom of speech and expression. She was genuinely interested in helping me succeed and made the time to give me professional and personal advice. Galway was such a fun city and honestly the perfect place to spend exploring for a few months. Not only do I feel better prepared to begin my second year of law school, but I am excited to continue learning about human rights and international law.
While in Bilbao, Spain, I was given the opportunity to assist Professor Felipe Gomez and the University of Deusto in planning the AHRI: Human Rights Defenders Under Siege conference. The conference is a two-day event where human rights defenders come together to discuss and exchange good practices that will facilitate the defense of all human rights in an increasingly complex scenario. I learned just how important this cause is to Felipe and the other staff members through the planning process. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many people who share the same passions as me. Bilbao is truly a magical city, and the magnificent campus looks like something out of a movie. I could not be more grateful to have spent my summer abroad in Spain trying new foods, having new cultural experiences, and working in the field of human rights.
My work at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission focused on Indigenous Peoples rights and other human rights, such as the rights to information, privacy, free speech, and non-discrimination. I contributed to projects that the Chief Commissioner was handling, and I led and authored a submission to the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs evaluating human rights issues in their recent proposal for online platforms and social media regulations. During my time in New Zealand, I explored various parts of the North and South Islands. Some of the highlights include attending two FIFA Women’s World Cup Games, exploring the redwood forest in Rotorua, and seeing both Hobbiton and Mount Doom from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. My summer experience was the perfect combination of broadening my understanding of international human rights law through hands-on experience and exploring different parts of the country and meeting new people.
I enjoyed teaching my human rights students at the Dow Academy immensely. One student even told me that I had changed the way she views the world, which was extremely gratifying to hear. It was an amazing opportunity to learn about a people and a place halfway around the world and to learn more about myself and what I am capable of. Despite being homesick at times, I look back and marvel at the new normal I had created there. Waking up in a new bed became waking up in my bed, the streets I had gotten lost on my first day became ones I knew like back of my hand, and anxiety that seemed to hang on my every interaction became confidence. I met dozens of people, many of whom quickly became good friends. I climbed mountains, toured nature reserves, and discovered incredible shops and restaurants.
I spent my summer experience working for Safe Place International, a nongovernmental organization that works with refugees across Africa. I observed first-hand the breadth that a public serving NGO can operate within. The work that I did, including grant writing, research, and a diverse assortment of odd tasks, was interesting and enriching. I was constantly being offered new work and educational experiences that were developing skills that I value and chose to work on. Cape Town is a wonderful city that I had an extraordinary time living in, despite a downside that highlights privilege perfectly. South Africa practices rolling blackouts year around so I was frequently planning my day around when I would have access to electricity. Living in Cape Town allowed me to experience other cultures, meet interesting people, and create long lasting bonds. I plan to continue volunteering with Safe Place to help them navigate legal questions.
I spent my summer with the New Zealand Human Rights Commission as a Human Rights Advisor to the Chief Commissioner, Paul Hunt. My day-to-day advising work varied in terms of topics and urgency. I worked on a few long-term projects, one of which focused on the human right to housing. My individual research explored rent control, tenancy tribunals, and habitability standards and has since been used in Commission communications calling on government agencies to adhere to international treaty obligations. Also, it has been used to aid the Housing Inquiry project team in the creation of a new website to house education-based resources, collect data on barriers and housing discrimination, and encourage engagement between civil society organizations and the Commission. This experience had a profound impact on me professionally by helping me grow my human rights expertise and work within a government agency.
This summer I was lucky enough to support the incredible work of Safe Place Greece, an organization committed to supporting LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and refugees. Under the guidance and experience of community members I was tasked with drafting contracts to ensure stable housing for beneficiaries. I researched Greek labor law for refugees and asylum seekers and developed programming and resources for those in need of Safe Place Greece’s support. As the country’s immigration policies continue to shift, these resources provide stability for the hundreds of asylum-seekers who come to Athens each year.
Working directly with community members truly grounded and humanized the more theoretical knowledge I had about the asylum-seeking process, proving to be an invaluable experience as I look towards my future in the human rights field.
I spent this summer as a research assistant for a law professor in Lisbon, Portugal. I worked on human rights issues related to transitional justice. I came into this experience not knowing much about transitional justice and specific international treaties, but now the knowledge I gained over the summer has helped me in the classes I’m currently taking. Living in Portugal allowed me to experience a different way of life and to gain a better perspective on international law, life in the United States, and the European education system through friends I made and adventures I experienced.
I traveled to Galway, Ireland to intern at the Irish Centre for Human Rights. I researched alongside Professor Ray Murphy. I examined the gathering of evidence from open sources of alleged war crimes and other violations in the Ukraine Conflict; analyzed the laws and consequences of long-term occupation through International Court of Justice cases and UN sources; and attended the International Criminal Court Summer School. This experience was tremendously impactful on me. Having the opportunity to do research and apply the law in real time to a major global event was a once in a lifetime academic and personal experience.
I had the opportunity to work with World Vision UK in London as an intern for the Programmes and Policy team. My experience was enlightening and helpful for my career. I observed the British legal system and political system, and I helped them with lobbying and meetings with Members of Parliament. The bulk of my work involved researching international and British government documents for specific policy outcomes that would better the human rights impact of the British government and World Vision as a whole. Those documents included UN Human Rights counsel briefings, Convention on the Rights of a Child Optional Protocols, UK and NGO information about the Global Hunger Crises, and the UK Foreign Aid budget for the past three years. My summer helped me realize the direction that I want to go in within the nonprofit and international human rights sectors.
I was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Monrovia, Liberia to work with the Institute for Constitutional Research, Policy, and Strategic Development. ICRPSD is a capacity-building research center focused on promoting, developing, and supporting decency, democratic principles, peaceful coexistence and positive thinking and action, with emphasis on strengthening reading culture. This experience provoked a new perspective on the practice of law in the US and provided me with a valuable supplement to my law degree and future career. I was able to immerse myself in the culture and forge new friendships that I hope to maintain for the rest of my life.
I worked at the University of Essex School of Law with their Immigration and Human Rights Center. My project was related to what it means for businesses to do due diligence in the context of human rights. My work focused on the increasing involvement of the private sector, especially big corporations, in immigration work and how it is affecting human rights of migrants and refugees. I had a great experience and enjoyed my time in Essex. I did not know a lot about business and human rights before this project, but now I am really interested in it and could see myself working in this field.
I had the opportunity to stay in Athens, Greece for the summer and intern at Safe Place International. SPI supports refugees and asylum seekers that are members of the LGBTQIA+ community and/or single mothers by offering temporary housing, trainings, and community. As an intern, I helped transition the organization into a more sustainable business structure and learned about the asylum process in Europe. I left feeling inspired and impressed by everyone I met and ready to learn more about the immigration process.
Join the team behind the field’s leading publication, the Human Rights Quarterly. Edited by Cincinnati Law’s Professor Bert Lockwood, Professor Jacob Katz Cogan, and Institute Program Manager Madeline Hellmich, HRQ’s editorial board is made up of Cincinnati Law students. 1Ls may apply to be cite checkers for their first year, then may apply to serve as articles editors in their second and third years (articles editors may receive academic credit for their work). Professor Lockwood makes all final staff appointments.
Jacob Katz Cogan
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs | Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law | Faculty Director, Cincinnati Center for the Global Practice of Law, College of Law | Affiliate Faculty, Department of History
529 College of Law Building
Areas of Interest: Comparative Law, Contracts, International Business, International Law, Legal History,
The Urban Morgan Institute regularly hosts distinguished global human rights scholars and legal experts for lectures at Cincinnati Law. Students involved with the Institute are invited to dinners and meetings with distinguished visitors. Past visitors include Judge Unity Dow of Botswana (2023), Alicia Ely Yamin (2016), and Mary Ellen O’Connell (2009).
Do you have a human rights project that you are eager to pursue? You’ll find support and encouragement for it from Urban Morgan. You can apply to receive course credit and pursue your research and work under the guidance and direction of Professor Lockwood.
More About the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights
Urban Morgan Human Rights Institute Advisory Board:
- Philip Alston, New York University
- Abdullahi An-Na'im, Emory University
- Gordon A. Christenson, University of Cincinnati
- Rebecca J. Cook, University of Toronto
- Drew S. Days, III, Yale Law School
- Judge Unity Dow, Botswana, Africa
- Tom J. Farer, University of Denver
- Cees Flinterman, Netherlands Institute for Human Rights
- Gay McDougall, Washington, D.C.
- Juan Mendez, American University, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
- W. Michael Reisman, Yale Law School
- Mark L. Schneider, Washington, DC
- Joseph P. Tomain, University of Cincinnati
A number of human rights scholars have spent time in residence at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. These scholars have availed themselves of the excellent array of research materials and programs provided by the Institute. Urban Morgan’s current Visiting Scholar is Erin Farrell Rosenberg (Law '11), a licensed attorney in Indiana, specializing in international criminal law, reparations, and genocide prevention.
Past scholars-in-residence include:
- Thabiso Lepang (Fall 2012) Lawyer with Unity Dow & Associates, Botswana, working with College of Law’s Domestic Violence Clinic
- Keneilwe Modise (Fall 2011) Lawyer with Unity Dow & Associates, Botswana, working with College of Law’s Domestic Violence Clinic
- Raymond Steenkamp Fonseca (Fall 2009) – Ph.D. Candidate IMT, Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, Italy
- Hu Zhijun (Fall 2009) – Ph.D. Candidate, Shandong University
- Jiang Feng (Spring/Summer 2008) – scholar from Shandong University in China, researching constitutional law and human rights
- Raushan Amanzhanora (Fall 1999-Spring 2000) – visiting Professor from Kazakhstan, researching human rights and linguistics
- Jeremy Sarkin (Spring/Fall 1998) – taught “The New South African Constitution” and “Transitional Justice” seminars at the College of Law while on sabbatical from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa