Jennifer Caldwell

THERE WILL NOT BE A CALL FOR APPLICATION THIS YEAR (2017). Thanks to the support of a generous donor, the Jen Caldwell Fund will be used to provide quarterlong support for a graduate research assistant involved in hands-on human rights work through Center programs. 

This fund has been established in the name of a cherished UW alumna, Jen Caldwell, to honor her passionate commitment to human rights. While at the University of Washington, Jen was known for combining academic excellence with working for justice. She played leading roles in efforts to educate the campus community about rape and sexual violence, in switching our campus to 100% fair trade certified coffee, and in raising funds to support scholarships for young people who work on Guatemalan coffee plantations through the UW Guatemala Education Project.

Upon her graduation in 2007, the Law, Societies and Justice program awarded her the Karin Stromberg Award in recognition of her outstanding combination of scholarship with public service. She also won the prestigious Bonderman Fellowship, which enabled her to travel around Latin America and Africa after graduation.  Jen stayed in South Africa in order to help shape a new effort to encourage forms of global tourism based on equitable and sustainable relationships with local communities in poor countries. While in South Africa, she was killed in a tragic accident in September 2009.

The Jennifer Caldwell Fund in Human Rights gives financial support to UW students working on hands-on Center projects to produce tangible human rights improvements for vulnerable communities around the world.

Make a gift today:

Contribute to this fund today using this link. To give by check, please designate “University of Washington Foundation” as the payee with “Caldwell Fund” in the memo line. Please mail check to UW Center for Human Rights, Box 353650, Seattle, WA 98195.

Thank you!

2016 Award Recipient

Emily Willard

Emily WillardEmily is a first-year student in the PhD program in International Studies at UW. She came to UW this fall with an illustrious background in human rights research and advocacy, having served as a Rotary Peace Fellow, a Board Member of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission, and a longtime researcher at the National Security Archive, where among other things, she spearheaded the declassification, analysis, and broad dissemination of US government documents shedding light on the Rwanda genocide. The Caldwell Fellowship took her to Guatemala this summer to begin her dissertation research, which examines women’s rights in Guatemala.

See below for a summary report from Emily:

With the funds provided by the Mack-Mayerfield and Caldwell Fellowships, I completed my preliminary dissertation research this past summer in Guatemala. I learned the basics of K’iche’, a native language in Guatemala, built relationships with new and old friends, and revised and strengthened my dissertation topic, which seeks to understand why, and under what conditions, some Guatemalan women chose to join the guerrillas during their country’s 36-year long armed conflict that lasted from 1960-1996.

Emily Willard Story in K'iche'

My short children’s story with draft edits in K’iche’

I spent one week improving conversational Spanish and learning about politics/history of Guatemala and three weeks learning K’iche’ language and culture from a native speaker – building and strengthening important relationships. I wrote a short children’s story in K’iche’ drawing on cultural details that I learned with my teacher. I was learning K’iche’ in Spanish, and found myself thinking in Spanish the first day of K’iche’ class. I shared my short story with native speakers and spoke with them about my language learning, enabling relationship growth and more inter-cultural understanding and connection. My learning more about Mayan culture through language helps me understand different perspectives and viewpoints of the war, history, and politics.

Through connections at the school, I was had dozens of informal conversations about my research to get different perspectives on the topic, on current politics in Guatemala, and on the history of the conflict. I was building relationships and gaining the trust of community members, where I heard un-common and personal narratives about the war and began getting answers to burning questions. The language school proved to be an excellent resource and starting point. I was able to identify various leads of communities and people that I want to talk to and interview next summer.

Emily Willard

Me outside of Zunil, a predominantly Maya K’iche’ city near Xela.

After the completion of my courses at the language school, I continued to nurture previous relationships established years ago. I met with a few Guatemalan academics, and gained more academic contacts. I was identified a few ways in which I might give back by providing access to declassified US documents about Guatemala’s history of human rights violations, and working to support communities’ efforts to preserve their own history of the conflict.

On this research trip, I gained more information, which allowed me to adjust and refine my research question, test out methodological approaches of listening and conversation, so that changes can be made accordingly. I found myself being with people as opposed to being an outside researcher studying my “subjects.” This experience led to new ideas to a clearer, stronger, better, and I believe, more ethical approach to my research.

Emily Willard Caldwell Fellow

Visit to a community during anniversary celebration

One of the highlights of my trip included a conversation with a guide and former guerrilla member who shared the story of his time fighting in the mountains, and the history of his comrades’ sacrifices on the volcano. He told us how important it is that we are asking questions, listening, and learning about the history of struggle in his country. Although it wasn’t a highlight, I experienced a memorable moment when I was struck by the realities of current-day racism in Guatemala. A colleague from the US arranged for me to meet with her friend, a doctor, who is also an indigenous leader in her community, working on women’s health issues; she wears traje (traditional Mayan dress). She was refused entrance to the hotel where we were meeting. My colleague had to exit the building and argue with the guard so that she could be let in. It was only an hour earlier where I had no trouble entering the hotel. I heard stories from friends about children who are specifically NOT taught to speak indigenous languages because of discrimination against native language speakers.

In conclusion, I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to conduct my preliminary dissertation work, which would not have been possible without the support of the Mack-Mayerfield and Caldwell Fellowships through the UW Center for Human Rights.

2015 Award Recipient

Ursula Mosqueira


2015 marked the first year where funds from the Jennifer Caldwell Endowed Fund in Human Rights provided quarterlong support for a graduate student, Ursula Mosqueira, to conduct hands-on human rights work. Ursula, a Ph.D. student in Sociology, spent the summer and fall in El Salvador to conduct research with a group of former political prisoners who experienced grave human rights violations including torture and other forms of inhumane treatment. Ursula wrote:

As a native of Chile, a country that underwent a brutal dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet, I have always been interested in exploring the aftermath of authoritarianism in my own country and the Latin American region. Through work at the UW Center for Human Rights (UWCHR) in the past three years, I have become acquainted with a country (El Salvador) whose history shares some elements with that of my own country, and with survivors of political violence who have a lot to teach me. While overt armed conflict divided El Salvador for twelve years, and Chile had a seventeen year-long dictatorship, forms of state repression and massive human rights violations used to quash calls for social reform represent a common denominator in the two histories. Similar patterns of repression also characterized the Cold War years in many other parts of Latin America.

As I became acquainted with communities of survivors in El Salvador and their struggle to obtain justice and truth after years of impunity and silence, I decided to focus on their process of survival and healing. Thanks to the UWCHR and the Jennifer Caldwell Fund in Human Rights, I arrived in El Salvador this summer to investigate the aftermath of authoritarianism, particularly for one group of survivors—former political prisoners. This is a group of people who experienced the human right violations of detainment without due process and torture as well as various other forms of inhumane treatment.

In my research, I am learning about how former political prisoners continued with their lives after experiencing extreme forms of repression on their bodies. I am discovering that the process has been very different for women than for men, and that their forms of organization have been fundamental in giving them tools to survive. As part of my fieldwork, I am carrying out in-depth interviews with over 30 former political prisoners, during which they share their life experiences and their understandings of things like justice and healing. They tell me about their families, about the ideals of social justice and political organization that led them to join revolutionary efforts, about their artistic talents, the psychological and physical sequelae of facing torture, their spiritual beliefs, and about the political and social projects that continue to motivate them. In those stories, I find the nuance and depth of any human story, of truncated dreams and illusions, and of survival and resistance despite extreme conditions. I also find the powerful influence of gender in shaping lives and opportunities of human rights victims’ access to justice and healing.

As part of my fieldwork, I also carry out participant observation of therapy sessions for former political prisoners. In these group sessions, participants share their experiences of pain and learn about tools of pain management. I have thoroughly enjoyed being in these workshops and feel like I am a part of an important effort, where members often have lively conversations and use humor profusely, even as they reflect upon, and cope, with the harrowing experiences of extreme corporal repression.

2014 Recipients

Four undergraduate students received the 2014 Jennifer Caldwell fellowship. They applied as the Grassroots On-site Work (GROW) team, which included Eugene Hsu (Bioengineering), James Kelley* (Psychology and Public Health), Brittney Senn (Nursing and Public Health) and Laurie Tran (Biology, Medical Anthropology and Global Health).

The GROW team traveled from the University of Washington to India this past summer to work with the MINDS Foundation, an NGO in Vadodara, Gujarat focused on eliminating mental illness stigma and providing care for patients in rural villages. Specifically, the GROW team explored the villages of Hareshwar, Kunvarpura, and Kasumbia and constructed detailed maps of the villages, which allow MINDS staff to interact with patients in a more efficient manner via the maps. The team also worked on various other projects, including patient narratives, where they listened to every patient’s story and record their experiences. A demographic statistical analysis was also performed on the past patient data; the team was able to identify substance abuse and mood disorders as the most common identifiable illnesses, but more importantly, they were able to see the distribution of diseased patients across the 19 villages in which MINDS operates.


 GROW team with MINDS Foundation staff and villager in Kunvarpura

As the GROW team explained, “overall, it was an irreplaceable experience with some extreme ups and downs that will forever be ingrained in our lives.” This project allows the students to “apply the theories and concepts learned in the classroom and with the help of our faculty adviser, Dr. Mathew Sparke, we can begin to understand, based on these experiences, how to effectively improve health for all people.”

GROW map1GROW map 2

  Maps of villages in Gujarat constructed by the GROW team.

*Due to illness, James was unable to travel to India with the team.

2013 Award Recipient

Amy Reed Sandoval
Amy Reed-Sandoval

Amy Reed-Sandoval, is a PhD student in Philosophy. Amy’s project involves sharing her passion for philosophy with marginalized indigenous youth in Oaxaca, Mexico, through the Centro de Esperanza Infantil. This organization works with street children in Oaxaca, seeking to help ensure they have the benefit of an education. For the past two summers, Amy has been working there to develop a Philosophy For Children (P4C) program for 10-18 year old street youth in Oaxaca, based in part on the work of the Northwest Center for Philosophy for Children at the University of Washington. The program encourages critical thinking and inquiry, and the thoughtful articulation of ideas. As Amy explained in her application for the Caldwell award,

“Philosophy for Children classes emphasize actively doing philosophy as part of a community of inquiry. A P4C instructor might commence a philosophy session by reading a children’s book containing a philosophical puzzle, and then open the floor to a student-led philosophical dialogue that identifies and explores that puzzle. Through P4C, students learn to think critically for themselves and defend their philosophical perspectives with reasons and logic. Importantly, students also learn to listen to and respectfully engage the views of others. Many philosophers of education have thus stressed the importance of providing philosophical training for young people as part of a flourishing democracy in which citizens are empowered to freely share and debate their unique perspectives on a range of important issues.”

This summer, with the support of the Jen Caldwell Award, Amy travelled to Oaxaca to further develop the P4C program, introducing some new games and workshops, as well as creating a small library so that the students can continue to explore philosophical questions and approaches all throughout the year, since apparently she’s been hearing from students who’ve taken her summer sessions in past years that they’re eager to keep doing philosophy even when she’s not around!
Amy Reed Sandoval working with children in Santa Ana Zegache, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Image (above), Amy working with children in Santa Ana Zegache, Oaxaca, Mexico.
This past summer’s intensive course lasted for two weeks, and ended with a day of philosophical “human rights speeches” prepared by the students over the course of their Philosophy for Children classes. Thanks to this scholarship Amy was also able to contribute to a documentary about the program, which can be accessed here. The documentary features clips of some of Amy’s sessions on the Philosophy of Human Rights, and provides helpful information about the important connections between Philosophy for Children and human rights education.
You can read more about her work, both in Seattle and Oaxaca, on her website: There are also some photos there of her work with kids in Oaxaca. Amy is also featured in the September 2013 edition of the University of Washington College of Arts and Sciences Perspectives newsletter, in an article, titled “Encouraging Young Philosophers in Oaxaca.” Click here to read the article and recent news on Amy’s work.

2012 Award Recipients

Kate Fenimore and Marina Fitzpatrick

Kate Fenimore and Marina Fitzpatrick ~ worked with a Cambodian organization called Women’s Development Association (WDA) . They helped the WDA find and train ‘peer-educators’ who will work to disseminate health information (related to maternal health, water sanitation, and in particular the value of using local clinics) into entirely underserved rural populations.

Ursula Mosqueira

Ursula Mosqueira ~ Worked with human rights organizations in El Salvador to initiate legal action against perpetrators of crimes against humanity during the country’s civil war.

2011 Award Recipients

Abby Temple and Melanie Robinson

Abby Temple and Melanie Robinson ~ Worked in Loitokitok, Kenya to help the teachers and staff at DEB Primary School build a Learning Resource Center and design a sustainable curriculum emphasizing self-development for school students.

2010 Award Recipients

Lydia Ansari

Lydia Ansari ~ Worked with Refugee Consortium of Kenya on gender-based violence in urban refugee camps in Nairobi.

Mariah Ortiz

Mariah Ortiz ~ Worked with Kenyan Human Rights Commission on reproductive rights and transitional justice.