Building Capacity and Exploring Tactics in the Human Rights Field
Shelby Ankrom is a second year Master of Human Rights student with concentrations in Gender and Development. She spent a summer interning at the Center for Victims of Torture in their New Tactics Program. Her internship was generously funded through a fellowship provided by the Human Rights Program.
Human Rights Program (HRP)- Tell us about where you interned this summer and what you worked on while you are there.
Shelby- I spent my summer interning at New Tactics in Human Rights at the Center for Victims of Torture. While there, I assisted with a New Tactics training, researched successful tactics used by various organizations to further their advocacy goals, wrote content for the New Tactics website, did voice-over work for a promotional video for the New Tactics new online Tactical Mapping Tool, wrote a blog post about vicarious trauma among human rights workers, and helped develop New Tactics training material into an online course on Canvas.
HRP- What were a few major takeaways or lessons that you learned this summer through your internship? Anything particularly surprising?
Shelby- One of the significant takeaways from my internship was getting to research different tactics, and that really made me realize that there are so many different ways that an organization can promote human rights, make policy changes, influence public opinion, and further their advocacy goals. There is no "one size fits all" model when it comes to human rights advocacy, and tactics that organizations can use are limited only by their imagination. Part of researching these tactics was to also think critically about how certain tactics could be replicated by different organizations on different topics, so getting to really think about the tactics themselves and how they could be applied to a variety of scenarios. Due to the fact that CVT is a very busy, under resourced, non-profit organization I did not have much guidance, which helped me learn to be self-motivated, conduct research independently, and brainstorm and other projects that I found interesting and could be of interest to the department.
HRP- How was the internship related to your course of study, and how do you think it will help you in your career?
Shelby- A lot of what I spent my summer researching and writing about were things that we covered in Professor Barb Frey’s Human Rights Advocacy class, such as New Tactics training materials, mapping actors, and selecting tactics. I think getting to research various tactics that other organizations had successfully implemented and the creativity of the tactics has really helped me gain a better understanding of how to be an effective advocate in my future career. Since I was working pretty closely with New Tactics training material, I feel like the knowledge I gained from it will prove extremely valuable to any future organization I may work with, as I can use these materials and implement them in future human rights advocacy tactics.
*Responses have been edited for length and clarity