Prof. Randolph reports on her sabbatical leave

So what does one do when on sabbatical? I can’t speak for others, but can tell you a bit about mine. My husband (who is a professor of Sociology at the University of Hartford) and I were fortunate enough to succeed in arranging sabbaticals for the same semester and so decided to spend our sabbatical in Costa Rica. My primary objective for the semester was to complete the draft chapters of a book I am working on with my co-authors Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Terra Lawson-Remer (both at the New School University in New York) on a methodology to monitor countries’ compliance with their obligations of result under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ICESCR. My husband is involved in creating a minor in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution at the University of Hartford, and his objective was to enrich his background in these areas. We affiliated with the University of Peace, UPEACE. UPEACE is a United Nations University dedicated to providing education, training and research related to the United Nations’ goal of promoting worldwide peace and security. It offers eight interdisciplinary MA programs in areas related to peace and security, including one on international law and human rights, my interest.

UPEACE is situated just outside of Ciudad Colón about 15 miles southwest of San José, so we rented an efficiency apartment in Ciudad Colón. Our affiliation with UPEACE enabled us to interact with faculty (and students) from all over the world with interests similar to ours through seminars, brown bags, and informal meals and gatherings. It also gave us access to their library. Both factors facilitated our work. TheInter-American Institute for Human Rights, IIHR, (the research and education body charged with promoting and strengthening respect for human rights as set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights) is also located in San José and provided me with additional networking opportunities. Beyond the enrichment gained through our affiliation with UPEACE and interactions with the IIHR, I succeeded in drafting four chapters of my book. And yes, work time was punctuated by several rainforest hikes, white water rafting trips, and beach trips. As the saying goes, “All work and no play…,” and how could one possibly resist Costa Rica’s natural riches?

Juan-Pedro Garces defends his dissertation and heads South

Juan-Pedro Garces defended on 4 August 2010 his dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Susan Randolph. The main topic of his dissertation is how education contributes to economic development. In one of the chapters, he pays special attention to the quality of education, trying to determine whether private schools deliver more educational quality than public ones, with special reference to the case of Chile, his native country. The dissertation also tackles the issue of the influence of population density on productivity, and how is affected by the level of education of the population. For this purpose, the study uses panel data on a sample of more than 100 countries, mostly developing ones. The third chapter of the dissertation focuses on institutions, testing the mainstream literature on the effects of institutional governance on economic growth and development. His work tries to determine the way in which the level of education affects institutional governance, finding a new channel through which education can enhance economic growth.

Juan-Pedro will be a visiting instructor at Wake Forest University, North Carolina.

The Economics Rights Group Holds its 4th Annual Day Long Workshop

The Economic Rights Group (ERG), consisting of about 16 UConn faculty from six different departments including economics, and 10 Affiliated faculty from around the US, holds its 4th annual day long workshop on Saturday April 17. The topic of this workshop is the measurement of government effort towards economic rights fulfillment. It will investigate three measurement approaches: regression residuals, the production possibilities frontier, and the budgetary approach. Economics faculty member Susan Randolph developed the production possibilities approach along with ERG affiliate Sakiko Fukuda-Parr from the New School, while another ERG affiliate, Dave Richards of the University of Memphis, was central in developing the residual approach. Economics faculty member Lanse Minkler has done budget work on the right to employment in the US, following in the footsteps of pioneer and ERG affiliate Phil Harvey of Rutgers University. The group will explore the extent to which ERG should focus on its activities on economic rights measurement, and also an emerging relationship with a prominent Non-Government Organization working on economic rights, the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, directed by ERG affiliate Cathy Albisa. The afternoon sessions will feature new research presentations by ERG affiliates.

People interested in attending the meeting should contact Prof. Minkler.

Recent graduate works on the economics of obesity

Marina-Selini Katsaiti has recently completed her graduate studies at the Department of Economics of the University of Connecticut. Her PhD thesis, “Three Essays on the Economics of Obesity,” focused on different aspects relating to the economics of obesity (happiness, macroeconomic issues, health care costs). Selini defended her thesis in September 2009 under the significant and very valuable assistance and support of her advisor, Prof. Zimmermann, and associate advisors, Prof. Heffley and Prof. Randolph. Pieces of her thesis were presented in many international economics conferences and a section has been published in a book. In addition, an article outside her thesis, “Corruption and Growth Under Weak Identification,” co-authored with fellow graduates Philip Shaw and Marius Jurgilas has been accepted for publication by Economic Inquiry.

Selini is currently working as a researcher at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), in the Department of Economics. In addition, she is working as an independent researcher for the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), a think tank in Belgium. Her research topics of interest include: economic growth, behavioral economics, corruption, trust and risk issues, and health economics.

Prof. Randolph works with UN Human Rights Commission

The Right to Development, as established by the UN General Assembly in the 1986 Declaration on the Right to Development, enjoys growing international support. However the normative content of the right, though often referred to in international fora, has remained relatively opaque, and there has been concomitant difficulty for Member States and other actors both in determining the duties inherent in the right and in assessing whether or not those duties are being met at national and international levels.

Prof. Randolph has been commissioned by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to assist the High Level Task Force of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development in addressing that difficulty, and in particular in devising criteria to assess the implementation of the right. Working together with Maria Green, a lawyer specializing in Human Rights, her mandate is threefold: first, to establish a well-defined set of contours for the Right to Development to aid in effective operationalization and assessment; second, to devise a methodology for determining criteria, sub-criteria and indicators for use in
assessing implementation of the right; and third, to propose specific criteria, sub-criteria and indicators that might eventually be used as a basis for guidelines or a legal instrument on the right. The mandate additionally requires that the specific indicators proposed respond to the priority concerns of the international community as identified by the Working Group on the Right to Development including and going beyond those enumerated in Millennium Development Goal 8.

Economic Rights Panels at Upcoming Human Rights in the USA Conference

Human Rights in the USA is an international three-day conference from October 22 to 24 that takes place at both the Storrs and Law School campuses. Three Economic Rights panels will explore issues surrounding the right to an adequate standard of living (details follow). The entire UConn community is invited to attend the conference and to learn about the state of the art research in human rights and economic rights.

Friday, October 23, 2009, UConn Law School, Hartford

Economic Rights and Poverty
Chair: Shareen Hertel, University of Connecticut.
Discussants: Ken Neubeck, University of Connecticut Emeritus, and Susan Randolph, University of Connecticut

  • Catherine Albisa, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. “Drawing Lines in the Sand: The Development of New Rights Norms in the United States.”
  • Philip Harvey, Rutgers University School of Law, Camden. “A Rights-Based Anti-Recession Strategy: What American Progressives Learned from the New Deal and then Forgot.”
  • Rhoda Howard-Hassmann, Wilfred Laurier University. “The Yellow Sweatshirt: Human Dignity and Economic Human Rights in Advanced Industrial Democracies.”
  • Gillian MacNaughton, University of Oxford. “A Holistic Human Rights Perspective on Poverty.”

Saturday, October 24, 2009. University of Connecticut, Storrs Campus, Rome Ballroom

Katrina through an Economic Rights Lens
Chair: Evelyn Simien, University of Connecticut
Discussants: Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, The New School and Heather Turcotte, University of Connecticut

  • Davida Finger, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, Rachel Luft, University of New Orleans “Post Hurricane Katrina Evacuation and Housing Policy: A Human Rights and Social Movements’ Analysis.”
  • Hope Lewis, Northeastern University School of Law. “Transnationalism and Human Rights in the U.S.: Notes from the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora.”
  • Kristen Lewis, Social Science Research Council, American Human DevelopmentProject. “A Portrait of Louisiana: Louisiana Human Development Report 2009.”

Researching Economic Rights in the USA
Chair: David Richards, University of Memphis
Discussants: David Richards, University of Memphis and Lyle Scruggs, University of Connecticut

  • David Cingranelli, SUNY-Binghamton. “Measuring and Explaining the Gap between ILO Standards and US Labor Policies.”
    Patrick Heidkamp, Southern Connecticut State University. “Measuring Economic Rights in the USA: A Spatial Analytic Perspective.”
  • Lanse Minkler, University of Connecticut. “On the Cost of Economic Rights in the US.”
  • Susan Randolph, University of Connecticut. “Economic Rights in the Land of Plenty: Monitoring State Fulfillment of Economic & Social Rights Obligations in the United States.”

For more information about Human Rights in the USA go to the conference website.

Economic Rights Group Begins 6th Year

Initiated by Lanse Minkler (Economics) (IDEAS) and Shareen Hertel (Political Science) (IDEAS) in the fall of 2004, the Economic Rights Group (ERG) has grown to include sixteen UCONN faculty members and nine “Affilitate” scholars. Participating Economics faculty also include Samson Kimenyi, Susan Randolph (IDEAS), Christian Zimmermann (IDEAS), and, most recently, Thomas Miceli. But the group also features a wide range of scholars from departments and schools like Political Science, Sociology, and Geography, to Law, Social Work, and Medicine. The ERG operates under the umbrella of the Human Rights Institute, itself a result of the Human Rights Initiative of the university.

The central purpose of the ERG is to investigate issues surrounding the fundamental human right of to a decent standard of living, as described in article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The group meets four or five times a semester to discuss seminal readings, and increasingly to consider original research generated by ERG members. Some of that research is included in the nascent ERG Working Paper Series. Additionally, the group meets at an annual day-long workshop to intensively investigate a specific topic annually. At this past April’s most recent ERG workshop in April 2009, for example, ERG members and affiliates presented their research on the state of economic rights in the U.S. The topic of the 2009 workshop mirrors the upcoming conference to be sponsored by the Human Rights Institute, entitled Human Rights in the USA.

Human Rights in the USA is an international three-day conference will take place from October 22 to October 24 that takes place at both the Storrs and Law School campuses. While we often think of human rights violations as only occurring elsewhere, the purpose this conference is to assess the state of human rights right here at home. There will be three economic rights themed panels: Economic Rights and Poverty; Katrina Through an Economic Rights Lens; and Researching Economic Rights in the USA. The entire UCONN community is invited to attend the conference and to learn about the state-of-the-art research in human rights.

For more information see: Economic Rights Group, Human Rights in the USA conference, Human Rights Institute.

Prof. Randolph awarded Human Rights Institute Fellowship

Prof. Susan Randolph (IDEAS) has been awarded the 2009-2010 Human Rights Fellowship at the UConn Human Rights Institute. The Human Rights Institute Fellowship is competitively awarded to one faculty member each year. Application for the fellowship is open to all tenure track faculty in all disciplines at Storrs and regional University of Connecticut campuses. The fellowship was announced in 2006 and provides one semester course release time for research projects on human rights. Professor Randolph is the 4th winner of the fellowship.

In response to an increasing demand for rigorous monitoring of States’ accountability in meeting their human rights obligations, a growing literature has emerged on measuring human rights fulfillment. However, the monitoring and promotion of human rights have emphasized political and civil rights; comparatively little attention has been focused on economic and social rights. Data are increasing used in human rights assessment and advocacy, but, especially with regard to economic social rights, ad hoc approaches dominate. Along with her collaborators, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Terra Lawson-Remer, Prof. Randolph has developed two alternative rigorous methodologies for monitoring State accountability in meeting economic and social rights obligations. The Human Rights fellowship will be used to write a book that fully documents the index and compares the alternative methodologies, investigates ways of integrating the principle of non-discrimination, and explores the policy implications of the index. The project ultimately seeks (a) a broad understanding of the sorts of policies and private initiatives that effectively foster the fulfillment of economic and social rights, (b) an understanding of the synergy between political, civil and economic and social rights, and (c) an understanding of the trade-offs and synergies between economic policies fostering income growth and economic efficiency versus those fostering economic and social rights provisions. To facilitate the realization of these broader goals, the fellowship will be used to apply for external grants to establish an Economic and Social Rights Accountability Program.

Senior wins prestigious Marshall scholarship

From CLAS in the news:

Michelle Prairie, a Presidential Scholar from Vernon, Conn., with a perfect 4.0 grade average, will spend the next two years in the United Kingdom studying for two master’s degrees in development economics.

She is the only student at a public institution in New England selected as a Marshall Scholar for 2009. The other New England winners were four students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, three from Harvard, two from Boston College, and one each from Princeton and Middlebury.

Prairie will study for one year each either at the University of Nottingham and the London School of Economics and Political Science, or at the University of Warwick and the School of Advanced Study of the University of London.

She plans to become a professor of development economics, focusing her research on income inequality, particularly in Latin America, and on the effects of trade, aid, and government policies on the distribution of wealth. Eventually she hopes to be a policy analyst for the United Nations, the World Bank, or the U.S. government.

Prairie, who was valedictorian of her senior class at Rockville High School, entered UConn hoping to study international business. In her second semester she took an economics course and “something just clicked,” she recalls. She became an economics major in CLAS, where she has interned for the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis and for Associate Professor Susan Randolph (IDEAS), whose research focuses on development economics.

President Michael J. Hogan, whose letter of endorsement capped Prairie’s application to the Marshall committee, called her “thoughtful, astute, and very articulate.”

“Few students get as excited about economic theory and analysis as Michelle,” he wrote.

Prairie’s interest in development economics was born on a trip to Brazil with her church group when she was in high school.

She played soccer with 16-yearold Brazilians who had no shoes, she recalls. Riding on a bus from the airport through the outskirts of Sao Paulo, she was shocked by the stacked-up shanties on the mountainsides.

At UConn she found opportunities for study abroad in Sweden, where she observed the welfare state, and, through the campus Christian group, Reformed University Fellowship, in Peru, where she taught English as a volunteer and assisted a fledgling microfinance program.

“This is when I knew for certain that I wanted to become a development economist,” she wrote in her Marshall application. “I had found a way to serve the poor by using my passion for economic theory.”

She was reluctant at first to apply for a Marshall, questioning her chances among so many qualified applicants.

“In my mind, she had what it takes. She was a winner. She just needed to feel it,” says Jill R. Deans, director of the office of National Scholarships at UConn.

Deans arranged several mock interviews to prepare Michelle. Among the interviewers were history professor Christopher Clark, chair of the campus Marshall Scholarship nominating committee, and Sandra E. Shumway, adjunct professor in residence of Marine Sciences, who was herself a Marshall Scholar.

Prairie interns at the Travelers Insurance Company in the market research division. As a senior, she won the Travelers Insurance Company Scholarship, the top undergraduate award in the Economics Department.

Her mother, Ellen Prairie, works in the One-Card Office at Wilbur Cross, and her father, Robert Prairie, is a 1981 UConn alumnus in mechanical engineering technology.

“My whole four years at UConn, I could never have foreseen half of the things I’m doing now. I’m so appreciative to UConn for giving me these opportunities,” says Michelle.

She is UConn’s second student to win a prestigious Marshall scholarship, named for America’s first five-star Army general, George C. Marshall. In 1947, as President Harry Truman’s secretary of state, he proposed American economic assistance to post-war Europe.
UConn’s first Marshall Scholar, Virginia DeJohn Anderson, CLAS ’76, is now a professor of history at the University of Colorado. As an undergraduate at UConn she was advised by Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of History Richard Brown.