Janet Reilly

Undergraduate Discipline


AB, Duke University. MSt, Oxford University. MPhil and PhD, City University of New York Graduate Center. Research interests include migration, human rights, citizenship, transnationalism, refugee protection and asylum, humanitarian relief, and international law. Current research project examines the Liberian diaspora’s civic engagement in both the United States and in the process of postconflict peace building in Liberia, paying particular attention to the role of migration and state policies in influencing civic participation in each country. Worked at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey and Guinea and Save the Children Foundation in Ethiopia. SLC, 2012–

Current undergraduate courses

International Organization: The Politics of Global Governance


The most pressing issues of our time—climate change, global pandemics such as AIDS and SARS, world hunger and poverty, terrorism, refugee crises, human trafficking, global arms trade, and drug smuggling—are what former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan referred to as “problems without passports,” because they transcend national boundaries and cannot be solved by states acting unilaterally. Rather, Annan argued, such challenges require “blueprints without borders.” International organization may be the most, if not the only, appropriate forum for tackling transnational issues. This course examines international organizations per se, but its main focus is the broader concept of how the international community organizes to address collective problems. Increasingly, states choose to pool sovereignty in supranational institutions like the European Union and to cede authority in certain issue areas to intergovernmental organizations—both global, such as the United Nations, and regional, such as NATO—that then take on a life of their own. At the same time, nongovernmental actors, including nonprofit human rights organizations as well as multinational corporations, are interacting—both challenging and collaborating—with states in the international arena. What collective problems exist at the international level? What solutions are states and other actors pursuing? Why do some international organization efforts succeed and many fail? We will investigate these questions through a discussion of the international organization’s role in the areas of international migration, global justice, and responses to global health pandemics.

Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Previous courses

International Relations: Conflict and Cooperation in Global Politics


Kenneth Waltz famously wrote, “Wars occur because there is nothing to prevent them.” Is this true? If so, what is to blame? Is it human nature or the anarchical structure of the international system that leads to conflict, and how are today’s conflicts different from those of the past? Is world peace possible? We will investigate these questions, analyzing contemporary international politics through various theoretical lenses. In an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, international peace and security are not only military concerns but also economic, human rights, and environmental protection issues. Is the United States, with its superior military, the world’s most powerful state? Or is it China, due to its growing economy? On what basis and through what mechanisms do nongovernmental organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Greenpeace, and transnational social movements for women’s and indigenous people’s rights challenge states’ sovereignty and influence their actions? Beginning with an examination of the historical development of the modern international system, we will explore different theories and approaches to the study of international relations and discuss sources and uses of power in the global arena. Applying the various theoretical perspectives, we will investigate the evolving nature of violence, including terrorism, that spills across borders; the growing gap between the world’s rich and poor; the role of international law in global politics; and the ethics of humanitarian intervention. 


Refugees: The Politics of Displacement


Throughout the world, millions of individuals have been forced to flee their homes due to persecution and armed conflict. The majority of these people are women and children. In fact, nearly half of the world’s refugees are children under 18 years of age. Despite the existence of international guidelines such as the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention and a framework for responding to refugee emergencies, numerous challenges remain, including: how to determine who is a “bona fide” refugee; the need for burden-sharing arrangements between countries of the Global North and the Global South (which host the vast majority of refugee populations); how to safeguard and better provide for the most vulnerable groups, such as orphans and unaccompanied children, during forced migrations; and the need for global partnerships to combat smugglers and human traffickers. This yearlong service-learning course will explore the causes and consequences of forced displacement. We will also examine the assumptions and actions of governments, the donor community, the United Nations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that typically intervene on behalf of refugees. Complex ethical, legal, and policy issues will be considered, including: (1) ethical dilemmas in the provision of protection and care; (2) contrasting models of care: camp settings vs. urban refugees; (3) legal status and distinctions among refugees, asylees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and other migrants; (4) decisions about “durable solutions”—repatriation, local integration, and third-country resettlement; (5) states’ responsibilities and increasing restrictions on access to asylum; and (6) challenges that refugee migrations pose to state-centric concepts of citizenship. Students will explore the link between global refugee movements and the status of refugees and other immigrants in America through participation in individual service-learning projects in their local community.