FAU awards pioneer for human rights research

MA Human rights students and Prof. Kathrin Kinzelbach with Prof. Sikkink.

FAU awards an honorary doctorate degree

to Prof. Dr. Kathryn Sikkink


“Kathryn Sikkink is a pioneer in human rights research. She has helped to establish and shape the field in political science like few others,” says Prof. Dr. Katrin Kinzelbach, Chair of International Human Rights Politics at FAU, describing her colleague from Harvard. FAU awarded Prof. Dr. Kathryn Sikkink an Honorary Doctoral Degree for her outstanding academic achievements on 6 June.

In the picture: Prof. Dr. Kay Kirchmann, on behalf of the Dean of the Philosophical Faculty and Theology department (left), Prof. Dr. Kathryn Sikkink and Prof. Dr. Joachim Hornegger, President of FAU. (Picture: FAU/Harald Sippel)

For decades, Professor Kathryn Sikkink has been dealing with human rights intensively and in a multi-layered way. Sikkink was born in 1955 in the US state of California, lived for a time in Spain as a teenager during the Franco dictatorship, and later studied political science in Minnesota, USA. As an exchange student in Uruguay in the 1970s, she got to know another dictatorship. She earned her doctorate at Columbia University and is now a researcher at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University.

In her work, the political scientist sheds particular light on the role of transnational networks and thus radiates beyond the subject area of human rights. In the larger political science sub-discipline of “international relations”, she is one of the best-known representatives of the constructivist school of thought.

Another focus of Prof. Kathryn Sikkink’s work is the prosecution of human rights crimes. She has worked particularly intensively on human rights violations in military dictatorships in Latin America, but also on the torture policy of the USA after 2011. This work is also widely received outside political science, for example in legal studies. More recently, she has been concerned with the question of who bears responsibility for the realisation of human rights besides the state.

At FAU, both law and political science students can choose human rights as a major field of study. International students have the opportunity to enroll in the interdisciplinary Master’s programme in Human Rights and in a special doctoral programme on Business and Human Rights.

Many of our M.A. Human Rights students participated in the Conferral and got the chance to meet as well as talk to her in person.