Degree: PhD, International Relations
How can the trend of western states creating stricter policies toward asylum seekers be explained? What caused the reversal of generational norms of granting protection to persecuted people? Using different western states as case studies such as Israel, Germany and the UK, I am looking at literature from the fields of Sociology, Public Policy, and International Relations in order to conduct my analysis. I am interested to see what motivates and enables a state to change its policy in such a way that violates or contradicts an international norm. More specifically I wish to examine the possibility that such policies diffuse: states look to violating predecessors, namely states that have previously change their policies in a similar way, and draw inspiration, legitimacy and moral justification from them.
Helping Refugees Feel At Home
My volunteer work at the Jerusalem African Community Center was a great source of inspiration for my research. This organization, which helps asylum seekers and other stateless Africans in Jerusalem, offers language courses, social workers, and mentors among other services to help both children and adult African refugees get acclimated in Israel. I volunteered as a Hebrew teacher for two years, and am now managing 20 volunteers as part of the Refugee Status Determination project (RSD), which educates refugees in terms of the rights they have and assists them in filling out forms for the Ministry of Interior, which is a challenge for them due to language barriers. This volunteer work made me want to expand my studies deeper into this field.
Human Rights Under Pressure
I am a first year doctoral student at the Department of International Relations. This upcoming fall I will begin the "Human Rights under Pressure – Ethics, Law and Politics" program at the Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law. This is a three year joint PhD program between the Hebrew University and Freie Universität Berlin which includes a scholarship covering tuition and living costs. Six students from the Hebrew University and six students from Freie Universität take part in each cohort. This is an interdisciplinary program where students from various fields come together to take part in cutting-edge research on pressing contemporary challenges for the realization of human rights. Students meet in Berlin and in Israel for seminars twice a year, and are required to spend eight months of their PhD studies in the opposite country.
Why Hebrew U
The Hebrew University is unparalleled in terms of its reputation and achievements, and I never even considered another school. To me, the University is a happy place where people come to do positive things. To think, to create, to do good things. I especially love the young atmosphere. My experience in the International Relations department in particular has been wonderful. Everyone is so nice, from the administrative office to the professors. I always felt that the professors were genuinely interested in what I had to say and contribute, and that they wanted me to succeed.
Fun Fact: In addition to Hebrew and English, Shani is fluent in both literary and spoken Arabic and German
BA in International Relations from the Hebrew University, summa cum laude
MA in International Relations from the Hebrew University, cum laude
Anna and Alfred Grey Award (received during BA)
Prat Award for Outstanding Seminar Paper
Presenter at several conferences, including the Rabin Conference for Young Scholars and the International Workshop on Popular Culture and International Conflict at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace