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Director's Note

To our alumni and friends,
It has been a very eventful seven months since my last letter in October 2020. Much has been lost, most notably the millions of lives taken by the pandemic. We have also witnessed further abuses of power by police and security forces and a growing incidence of discrimination and hate crimes in many countries. In the United States, further attempts at voter suppression and a spate of attacks against Asian-Americans followed an assault on the U.S. Capitol by a riotous mob seeking to overturn the 2020 elections. The burden of these losses has fallen disproportionately on poor and marginalized communities, whose livelihoods have also suffered. And, across the board, states are implicated either directly through their use of violence or indirectly through their blatant disregard for collective well-being.
Much has also been learned, however. The scientific community has collaborated and worked tirelessly to produce Covid-19 vaccines in record time. People from all walks of life have raised their voices against racist policing and hate speech, sparking much deeper conversations about systemic racism and decolonization around the world. And the pandemic has exposed preexisting fault-lines linked to rising inequality, the spread of exclusionary nationalism, inadequate public healthcare systems, and the undervaluing of essential workers, many of whom are immigrants.
Human security is at the heart of many of these struggles and challenges, which makes the work we do at Leir that much more important. Faced with quarantines and travel restrictions during the 2020/2021 academic year, we turned to digital technologies to bring people together and engage with these and other critical issues in human security. We highlighted the themes of migration, social norms, contemplation, public health, essential work, detention/incarceration, and racial justice. We also prioritized and provided spaces for diverse and often underrepresented voices. You can read more about these activities in this newsletter and on our website.
We also welcomed two new Senior Policy Fellows: Daryl Collins, author of Portfolios of the Poor and a pioneer working at the intersection of finance and human vulnerability, and Jayshree Venkatesan, a financial sector specialist with over 15 years of experience in financial inclusion spanning investments and consulting. In September, we will be joined by a new Visiting Fellow in Human Security, Diogo Eiji Yoshida, a Brazilian doctoral candidate at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, who is writing his dissertation on the sociocultural and psychological adaptation of Brazilian immigrants in the United States and Japan.
Looking ahead, we plan to sustain our existing projects while developing new streams of research and programming. One exciting initiative in the early stages of development is a formal collaboration with Aarhus University in Denmark to build a multi-year program on Human Security and Contemplative Practice: From Ego-System to Eco-System. We hope to have more details to share with you in the next few months. We are also pursuing funding for at least two migration-related initiatives: a financial literacy training program for refugees and migrants in the Boston area and a multi-media project on disrupted mobilities along the U.S.-Mexico border. We welcome your feedback and engagement in these projects.
Beyond these specific initiatives, we are launching a three-month process aimed at honing and implementing the "strategic positioning" of the Leir Institute in the field of human security. By better defining its niche and comparative advantage, Leir will be more effective in identifying funders and partners, explaining its value, and working efficiently. The process will include interviews with our various stakeholders, so we may be reaching out to some of you over the summer. If you are interested in participating, please contact us at
Before closing, I want to acknowledge the staff and students who supported me as members of the Leir team, with special thanks to Maria Teresa Nagel, our outgoing Assistant Director, and Neiha Lasharie, our outgoing lead research assistant. Without their work, dedication, and good humor, we would have accomplished very little and had much less fun doing it. They have both moved on to new challenges but only after leaving a solid foundation for the new Leir team coming on board over the next few months.
Please stay tuned, and do not hesitate to reach out if you have ideas, concerns, or questions. If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to register in the database of Fletcher alumni who would like to be more engaged with the Institute. 
Wishing you health and safety,

Katrina Burgess
Director, Henry J. Leir Institute

Never miss an update from the Leir Institute!

What's New with the Leir Institute?

We wrapped up our Intersecting Pandemics: Detention and Work in Times of COVID webinar series. Our two events from this semester featured Dr. Aakash Shah, and activists Precious Bedell and Gerard Matthews.
The Leir Institute also published the first installment of our Policy Paper Series, which features occasional papers written by faculty affiliated with the Fletcher School, as well as friends of the Leir Institute. You can read Professor Kim Wilson's paper here. We invite you to pitch an idea for a Policy Paper!

Art by Anne Moses.
The Leir Institute launched our Migration at Fletcher portal. The Fletcher School has become an important hub for cutting edge research and activism related to all facets of migration. This portal is a convenient way to explore Fletcher's expertise, either by learning about on-going research projects related to migration, course offerings, student organizations, or our faculty who focus on migration.
Finally, Leir launched several social media platforms through which to disseminate our research, events, and collaborate with other institutes. Use our LinkTree to follow us on your preferred platform!

Past Events

Fall 2020

Since our last Alumni Newsletter, the Leir Institute invited leading Indian, Dalit public intellectual and Harvard Kennedy School Senior Fellow Suraj Yengde to discuss the relationship between caste-bigotry in India and anti-black racism in the United States You can view the recording of the event here.

The Corruption, Justice and Legitimacy Program and Tisch College co-hosted corruption expert Sarah Chayes to discuss the ever-present role of corruption in the United States' political system. You can view the recording of the event here.

We also held several screenings of Dr. Burgess' documentary Waylaid in Tijuana, in cooperation with the Migration Policy Centre of the European University Institute in Florence, Italy; Proyecto Habesha in Aguascalientes, Mexico; and the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance at UMass-Boston. The documentary is now available on YouTube.

Spring 2021

This year’s Henry J. Leir Human Security Award (first awarded in 2015) recipient was Dr. Patrick Meier (F'12) Remarks were offered by Tufts University President Tony Monaco, Fletcher Dean Rachel Kyte, Leir Director Katrina Burgess, and Dr. Meier himself. You can read more about and view the event here. The Human Security Award was established to honor Fletcher alumni who have made significant contributions to the scholarship and/or practice of human security.

Our conversation series dedicated to exploring the intersection of Human Security and Contemplation explored how one determines one’s inner course of action before proposing and leading action into the world. The program was hosted by Professors Mazurana, Jacobsen and Wilson, and the conversations were led by Leir colleagues, Tsering Gellek (F01) and Anton George Barré.

After the introductory event, speakers included Jack Petranker, Joe Loizzo, and Yuria Celidwen.

As part of #GlobalTuftsMonth, the Leir Institute partnered with several Tufts departments and programs to bring celebrated Honduran photographer and journalist Tomás Ayuso for a multimedia experience.

Tomás took attendees on an emotional journey, using his creative eye to capture intimate and harrowing moments alike as he followed displaced Hondurans on their journeys to safety and security. The event was striking for the empathy and care that Tomás felt towards subjects. We invite everyone to explore his portfolio.
Our webinar series on Intersecting Pandemics addressed incarceration and the global pandemic as interconnected sites of oppression but also of transformation.  .

On the former, we brought Precious Bedell and Gerard Matthews, who shared their experiences with incarceration and detention, and their journey towards advocating for others who are justice involved. On the latter, Dr. Aakash Shah, a practicing addiction and emergency medicine doctor who works at the intersection of criminal justice and healthcare reform, discussed the ways in which incarceration must be fundamentally rethought.
Since the start of COVID, Leir Senior Policy Fellow Daryl Collins and her team have been testing new research methods of remote data collection and analysis. They came to find that there are advantages to automated data collection such as using Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) and WhatsApp technologies, as well as using Natural Language Processing (NLP) and speech signals to analyze the audio files. This event was an opportunity to engage with her findings and learn more about the potential of IVR, Whatsapp technologies, and NLP in research.
The Finance in Displacement: Refugee Integration in Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, and Uganda (FIND) Symposium was a two-day event that provided recommendations to policy makers, humanitarian and development agencies, and other actors whose work aims to improve the lives of refugees. These were based on research conducted by the FIND team in the aforementioned countries. Recordings and resources from and relevant to the Symposium can be found here.

Alumni Spotlight

Claire Wilson (F18)

Claire Wilson is a humanitarian practitioner, research, and educator, specialized in gender equality, including issues of sexual orientation, gender identity, expression and sex characteristic (SOGIESC). She has worked in humanitarian responses in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria for the past nine years from diverse vantage points: national organizations, international organizations, UN agencies, and research institutes. Based in Beirut, Lebanon, Claire is currently a Gender and Humanitarian Specialist at UN Women where she works at the intersections of research, advocacy and programming to drive feminist knowledge production and increase the gender equity in humanitarian action.

At the onset of the pandemic, Claire was seconded as a Gender Adviser to WHO Lebanon to integrate issues of gender equality into the response. Following the devastating Beirut port explosion in August 2020, Claire returned to UN Women to lead their response supporting women, girls and gender minorities affected by the blast. She currently serves as the chair of the Gender Working Group in Lebanon, and is working on launching the first inter-sector working group with a mandate on LGBTIQ+ rights and protections. She is grateful to her education at the Fletcher school and the Leir Institute on her journey to pursue gender, sexual, racial and economic justice in humanitarian response. 

Pedro Cárdenas Casillas (F19)

Pedro Cárdenas is currently the Protection Coordinator: Case Documentation and Follow-up in ARTICLE 19 Mexico and Central America Office. His work involves mostly handling cases of human rights violations and other attacks against journalists and human rights activists in Mexico, analyzing national and international human rights norms, managing political incidents with authorities, and creating and teaching risk assessment methodologies for journalists.

At Fletcher, Pedro concentrated in public international law and human security, and did an internship program at the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. Prior to Fletcher, Pedro had experience in human rights organizations focusing in helping the families of the disappeared in Mexico, as well as protection and accompaniment of human rights activists in Guatemala. He also temporarily worked at the Mexican Embassy in Colombia. Pedro did his undergrad at Tec de Monterrey, in his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico.

Faculty Updates

Did you know the Leir Institute has 20 affiliate faculty members from across the Fletcher School? 

International Law and Human Security

In the Summer of 2020, the Norwegian Refugee Council commissioned Fletcher Professor and Leir Senior Policy Fellow John Cerone to write an expert opinion on the simultaneous application of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in situations of occupation, with a particular focus on access to healthcare and education. In November 2020, Professor Cerone provided a briefing on the opinion for diplomats based in the Middle East. He then conducted another diplomatic briefing for diplomats based in Europe in February 2021.  

Professor Cerone recently filed two petitions before international human rights bodies. In November 2020, he filed a Communication (i.e. legal complaint) to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (which monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child) concerning violations of children’s human rights during a situation of armed conflict. It is the first complaint to the CRC alleging violations of both IHRL and IHL, and the Communication explores the issue of simultaneous application in an extraterritorial context. Also in February, Professor Cerone filed a communication to the Human Rights Committee (which monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) concerning a novel issue at the intersection of human rights and international sports law.  

He has also continued work on a third communication, originally filed in 2019, to the CRC. This communication alleges that five States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child violated their obligations under the Convention by actions and omissions that have contributed to climate change. This is a case of first impression before the CRC. The Communication was filed in September 2019 on behalf of Greta Thunberg and 15 other children from across the globe. Over the past few months (late 2020 and early 2021), Professor Cerone has worked on three different reply briefs in response to Respondent States’ observations on issues of admissibility.  

Finally, Professor Cerone was interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor about the United States’ reengagement with the UN Human Rights Council. 

Corruption, Justice and Legitimacy Program

As an arm of the Corruption, Justice and Legitimacy Program (CJL), the Corruption in Fragile States Blog challenges conventional thinking and takes a deep dive into critical issues in the field, such as systems-based approaches to corruption, social norms, gender, and research methods. In the past few months, the Blog has featured blog posts by Roberto Laver on the role of work faith-based actors in changing norms of corruption; Julien Joly’s blog post on mainstreaming corruption in security sector reforms; Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church’s post on the personal and professional risk that inhibit civil servants in the Ugandan context, among many others.

Additionally, CJL engaged in a fruitful collaboration with The Hague Academy and CARE Every Voice Counts staff  in Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi around programming to change social norms related to transparency at the local government level.  A deep dive into the differences in working on gender norms versus social norms revealed important lessons. CJL also launched its short guide series for practitioners where the first short guide boils down the complexity of social norms into the need-to-know components relevant to programming. As CJL’s work on social norms and corruption continues to resonate with key actors in the anti-corruption community, CJL’s co-directors have been invited to speak about CJL’s work at various conferences and podcasts.

The Journeys Project

The Finance in Displacement (FIND) Symposium (April 20-21, 2021) explored the financial integration of refugees, drawing on recent research conducted in Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, and Uganda. The Symposium was organized by ten individuals (faculty and researchers, as well as two Fletcher School students) across Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU), Tufts University, and the International Rescue Committee. Seven students from the Fletcher School, Tufts University, served as volunteers. The Symposium was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Open Society Foundations. There were at least 250 individual attendees at the event across the two days, including practitioners, researchers, students, and academics.
If you are interested in keeping up with the Fresh FINDings from the Journeys Project, sign up for the Journeys Project Newsletter here

Senior Policy Fellows

In the 2020-2021 Academic Year, the Leir Institute added two new Senior Policy Fellows to its ranks. We are excited to see all that they bring to the Leir Institute and the Fletcher School as a whole!
Daryl Collins

Dr. Daryl Collins is author of the acclaimed Portfolios of the Poor and a pioneer working at the intersection of finance and human vulnerability. In the past two decades, Dr. Collins has built up a broad portfolio of work with foundations, bilateral institutions and private financial services providers linking an understanding of household financial management to the provision of supportive financial services to the most vulnerable of the world.

Jayshree Venkatesan

Jayshree is a financial sector specialist, with over 15 years of experience in financial inclusion spanning investments and consulting. Her geographical expertise spans India, East and West Africa, South East Asia and the Balkans, with immersive experience in India, Cambodia and Albania. The focus of her work during this time has been on building institutional systems and processes to cater to the financial needs of vulnerable customers while placing customers at the heart of this change. She is also an alumna of the Fletcher School (MA ‘20).

Visiting Human Security Fellow

The Leir Institute is proud to highlight Diogo Yoshida, our first ever Visiting Human Security Fellow!
Diogo Eiji Yoshida

Diogo Eiji Yoshida is a Visiting Fellow in Human Security at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a Ph.D. candidate in International Public Policy at the University of Tsukuba, Japan. In his work, Diogo Eiji explores predictors of sociocultural and psychological adaptation of Brazilian Immigrants in the Japanese and the United States societies. His doctoral research is supported by the Nippon Foundation Nikkei Scholarship and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Program for Developing Leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean, and primarily focuses on the role of integration and interculturalism oriented public policies and services provided by non-governmental organizations. What attracted Diogo Eiji to the Henry J. Leir Institute was its expertise and research engagement in international migration and people’s well-being, particularly of minority groups and immigrants. He holds a B.A. in International Relations from the Pontifical Catholic University of Goias, Brazil, and an M.A. in International Area Studies from the University of Tsukuba, Japan. His most recent article is forthcoming in The Journal of International Public Policy of the University of Tsukuba.

Anticipated dissertation title: Brazilian Immigrants in Japan and the United States: Predictors of Sociocultural and Psychological Adaptation.

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