Kathryn Libal, PhD

Associate Professor and Director, UConn Human Rights Institute

Kathryn Libal, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Social Work and Human Rights and Director of the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut. Since 2007, she has taught at the School of Social Work and Human Rights Institute, specializing in human rights, refugee resettlement, and social welfare. Her scholarship has focused on the Middle East and United States. Libal has published on women’s and children’s rights movements in Turkey and on the advocacy of international non-governmental organizations on behalf of Iraqi refugees. Current scholarship examines: 1) the localization of human rights norms and practices in the United States, with a focus on social mobilization for the right to adequate food and housing; and 2) the politics and practices of voluntarism and refugee resettlement in the United States. The latter project is in collaboration with social work faculty Scott Harding and S. Megan Berthold, as well as several doctoral students. The team is examining how voluntarism in an era of xenophobia and backlash creates new forms of civic connection and political participation among volunteers, social service providers, and refugees.

Libal serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Human Rights and Social Work and is the University of Connecticut’s liaison with the Scholars at Risk Program. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Consortium of Higher Education Centers for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies. She teaches courses on human rights and social work, qualitative research methods, social policy analysis, and approaches to human rights advocacy at the BA, MA, MSW, and PhD levels.

Research Interests

Human Rights and Social Work
International Social Work
Food Justice Mobilization
Women and Children’s Rights Movements
Asylum Seekers, Refugees, and Migrant Workers

Curriculum Vitae

View Kathryn Libal’s CV

Selected Publications

Libal, K. & Harding, S. (2021). Will Biden’s plan to resettle Afghans transform the US refugee program? Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, December 11, 2021.

Land, M., Libal, K., & Chambers, J. (Eds.) (2021). Beyond borders: The human rights of noncitizens. Cambridge University Press.

Libal, K., Harding, S., Popescu, M., Berthold, S. M., & Felten, G. (2021). Human rights of forced migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic: An opportunity for mobilization and solidarity. Journal of Human Rights and Social Work, 6, 148-160.

Libal, K. & Kashwan, P. (2020). Solidarity in times of crisis. Journal of Human Rights, 19, 5, 537-546.

Harding, S. & Libal, K. (2020). “Doing something to fight injustice”: Voluntarism, private and community co-sponsorship, and refugee resettlement as political engagement in the United States, Private refugee sponsorship: Concepts, cases and consequences, McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Libal, K., Felten, G. & Harding, S. (2019).  Refugee resettlement in the United States: The central role of volunteerism in a time of backlash. In S. M. Berthold & K. Libal (Eds.), Refugees and asylum seekers: Interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives (pp. 74-99).  Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio Press.

McPherson, J. & K. Libal. (2019) Human rights education in U.S. social work: Is the mandate reaching the field? Journal of Human Rights, 18, 3, 308-324.

Berthold, M. & Libal, K. R. (Eds.) (2019). Refugees and asylum seekers: Interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives. New York: Praeger.

Libal, K. & Harding, S. (2015). Human rights-based community practice in the United States. New York: Springer.

Libal, K. R., Berthold, S. M., Thomas, R., Healy, L. M. (Eds.) (2014). Advancing human rights in social work education. Council on Social Work Education Press.

Libal, K. & Neubeck, K. (2013). The rights of the child to an adequate standard of living:  Applying international standards to the U.S. case. In L. Minkler (Ed.), The state of economic and social rights, pp. 175-203. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hertel, S. & Libal, K. (Eds.) (2011).  Human rights in the United States: Beyond exceptionalism. New York/London: Cambridge University Press.

Associate Professor Kathyrn Libal
Contact Information
Phone(959) 200-3633
Office LocationRoom 313 HSSW