OPPORTUNITY - Alex Trebek Postdoctoral Fellowship: Securing Rights in a Changing Order

Partners - Alex-Trebek Postdoctoral Fellowship

Alex Trebek Postdoctoral Fellowship: Securing Rights in a Changing Order


Type: Postdoctoral Fellowship
Start date: Flexible (but ideally September 1, 2020)
Duration: One-year fellowship (with possibility of renewal)
Salary range: $45,000, plus benefits
Reports to: Prof. John Packer, Director, Human Rights Research and Education Centre, and Prof. Jennifer Bond, Managing Director, University of Ottawa Refugee Hub


Fellowship Description

We are seeking a skilled and enthusiastic Postdoctoral Fellow to pursue an innovative research program focused on securing human rights in a world in transformation.

The successful candidate will be supervised throughout the postdoctoral fellowship by leading human rights and refugee law scholars from the University of Ottawa as part of the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue’s new project entitled Changing Orders: Shaping the Future and Securing Rights in a World in Transformation (“Changing Orders”, described below). The postdoctoral fellow will be jointly hosted by two of the centres leading the Changing Orders project: the Human Rights Research and Education Centre and the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub.

This postdoctoral fellowship has a dual focus. It is intended to generate original research and contribute to legal and policy responses to pressing human rights issues at the domestic and international levels. As such, applicants are encouraged to propose creative ideas for how they plan to contribute to new knowledge on the topic of securing rights in a rapidly evolving global order, and to describe how they are well-positioned to contribute to legal and policy interventions on these issues. The latter may include amicus briefs, policy proposals, expert briefs, op-eds, and the organization of policy roundtables, among others.

We are particularly interested in proposals that build on the established track-record of both centres in working to secure the rights of the forcibly displaced and to hold responsible those States and individuals who commission, commit or perpetuate violations of international law that lead to mass displacement. As such, a background in international human rights law, international criminal law, and/or domestic and international refugee law and policy will be highly relevant to this fellowship.

It is expected that this work will result in a number of outputs by the end of the fellowship. Research outputs (e.g. policy recommendations and framework proposals) will be disseminated through a series of publications, white papers and other knowledge mobilization activities. The co-supervisors will also work with the successful applicant to identify opportunities to contribute to the ongoing legal and policy work of both centres.

The successful candidate will be registered as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa and will enjoy all associated privileges. This individual will have a strong background in law and a demonstrated ability to engage with complex policy debates in the realm of human rights and/or refugee law and policy.

About the Project

The Postdoctoral Fellow will join a dynamic research and practice community focused on advancing human rights in a rapidly shifting global order.

Bringing together leading research centres and institutes at the University of Ottawa, and financially supported by the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue, Changing Orders seeks to reveal the fundamental dynamics underlying today’s governance and human rights challenges – at the national and global levels – and to generate new and innovative ideas and policy responses to them. The initiative will mobilize cutting-edge research and networks of decision-makers from a variety of fields to analyse these challenges and co-produce effective solutions. It will also build upon and amplify cutting-edge public interest legal interventions being conducted by project partners at both the domestic and international levels, aimed at securing rights in a changing order.

The Changing Orders project builds on the expertise of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC), the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub, the Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS), and the Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP). The project aims to address two fundamentally important questions: 1) How to secure inclusive and durable democracies and multilateral cooperation in the face of political and technological change; and 2) How to secure fundamental human rights in the face of challenges to the rules-based international order.

This postdoctoral fellowship will focus primarily on the second of these themes, which centres on how to counter a dual challenge to the rules-based international order: new ideologies that directly challenge core principles of human rights, matched by increasing attacks on human rights organizations, institutions, defenders and intended beneficiaries. A particularly fractious debate has centred on the rights of refugees. The number of people displaced by conflict, persecution and mass atrocities is at record levels, with implications both for individual rights and global stability and cohesion. Meanwhile, the legitimacy and effectiveness of institutions meant to hold perpetrators to account, such as the International Criminal Court, continue to be questioned.

To counter the most destabilizing effects of these trends, this project will examine new means and methods of securing the rights of the persecuted, and accountability for perpetrators, and will build on and enhance cutting-edge public interest legal work already being conducted by the partners (in particular HRREC and the Refugee Hub) to secure new rights-protective precedents both in Canada and globally.

Position Requirements

  • Doctoral degree in law, or a doctoral degree in an allied field (e.g., political science, human rights, public policy) with prior training in law (e.g. LL.M., J.D., LL.B., LL.L.). Preference will be given to candidates with doctorates awarded in the last 5 years, but all candidates will be considered.
  • Research experience, preferably in law and policy.
  • English Proficiency.

Additionally, the following skills will be considered as assets:  

  • Bilingualism (English and French).
  • Scholarship on relevant topics.
  • Experience with knowledge mobilization (translation and exchange).
  • Clinical or practice experience in a relevant area of law.
  • Prior involvement with public policy processes relating to human rights and refugee rights.

If the start date for this position is affected either by the candidate being under COVID-19-related travel restrictions or the campus being closed, remote working options can be negotiated.

How to apply

Please apply through our online portal. Your application should include the following:

  • a cover letter,
  • a complete curriculum vitae,
  • a two-page (max.) statement of interest describing your research interests relevant for this position and capability to contribute to related legal and policy responses at the domestic and international levels.

The selection committee will start to review applications on July 1st. Applications will be considered until a successful candidate is found. We thank all applicants for their interest; however, only those under consideration for the role will be contacted.

The cover letter shall indicate the level of proficiency in English and French.

The University of Ottawa is an equal opportunity employer. We strongly encourage applications from women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.

In keeping with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada requirements, all qualified persons are invited to apply. All applicants will be considered, but preference will be given to Canadian Citizens, permanent residents of Canada, and people holding (or eligible to hold) a valid work permit. The cover letter should confirm the immigration status of the candidate.

In keeping with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, the University of Ottawa will provide accommodations upon request during the recruitment, selection and assessment process for candidates with a disability.

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