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Galya Ben-Arieh

Professor of Instruction

B.A.: University of Pennsylvania, 1986; J.D.: Northwestern University, 1989; Ph.D.: University of Pennsylvania, 2003
Curriculum Vitae


Research Interest(s): Forced Migration and Refugee Studies, Citizenship, Comparative Constitutionalism, Testimony and International Criminal Justice; Conflict Studies

Program Area(s): Political Theory; Law and Politics; Comparative Politics

Regional Specialization(s): United States; Middle East; Europe; Africa

Subfield Specialties: Law and Politics


Galya Ben-Arieh, J.D. ,Ph.D., is Professor of Instruction in Political Science. Her research centers on the rights and processes of refugee protection and the role of law in settlement and inclusion in host societies and comparative constitutional theory and transformation. During her 12 years at Northwestern she has directed the International Studies Program (2008-2015), creating the IS Honors Program and the Global Café. An international expert in refugee studies, Ben-Arieh (also known as Galya Ruffer), founded and directed the Center for Forced Migration Studies (CFMS) which was housed at the Buffett Institute from 2011-2018. In 2015 she received funding to launch a research program on refugee resettlement. She is now continuing this work through the development of a Refugee Knowledge Hub, a community-based partnership providing leadership, knowledge and support for refugees and asylees in our community. She has been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council and the Kellogg Center for Dispute Resolution and is a former Senior Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research (University of Duisburg-Essen) and is a consortium partner in the project, Norms and Values in the European Migration and Refugee Crisis (NoVaMigra), a European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 770330. She has conducted field research in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa, Germany and the U.S. and has published on testimony and justice, asylum law and policy, refugee protection in a digital age, human rights litigation in transnational courts and citizenship and immigrant incorporation in the US and Germany, with a recent book, Adjudicating Refugee and Asylum Status: The Role of Witness, Expertise, and Testimony (co-edited with Benjamin Lawrance), Cambridge University Press (2015). She serves on the executive committee of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration, and has worked as an immigration attorney representing political asylum claimants both as a solo-practitioner and as a pro-bono attorney. She completed a J.D. at Northwestern University and a Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

BooksBook Cover: Adjudicating Refugee and Asylum Status by Gayla Ruffer

  • Adjudicating Refugee and Asylum Status: The Role of Witness, Expertise, and Testimony (co-edited with Benjamin Lawrance), Cambridge University Press (2014)

Select Publications

  • “Testimony of Sexual Violence in the DR Congo and the Injustice of Rape: Moral Outrage, Epistemic Injustice and the Failures of Bearing Witness,” Oregon Review of International Law (Spring 2014).
  • “Legal Forms and Democratic Citizens in Republican Theory,” in Andreas Niederberger and Philipp Schink, editors, Republican Democracy: Liberty, Law and Politics (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013)
  • “Pushed Beyond Recognition? The Liberality of Family Reunification Policies in the EU,” Journal of Ethnic Migration Studies (July 2011).
  • “The Cosmopolitics of Asylum Seekers in the European Union,” New Political Science, 27:3 (September 2005).
  • “Courts Across Borders: The Implications of Judicial Agency for Human Rights and Democracy,” (with David Jacobson), Human Rights Quarterly, 25:1 (February 2003).
  • Reprinted in:
“Agency on a Global Scale: Rule, Rights and the European Union,” (with David Jacobson), in Alison Brysk and Gershon Shafir, editors, Citizenship and Human Rights in an Age of Globalization (University of Rutgers Press, 2004).
  • “Agency on a Global Scale: Rule, Rights and the European Union,” (with David Jacobson) in Marco Giugni and Florence Passy, editors,Dialogues on Migration Policy (Lexington: Lanham, MD, March 2006). 

Courses taught

  • Refugee Crises and Human Rights
  • INT_ST 398 1,2,3 International Studies Honors Seminar 
  • POLI SCI 330 / LEGAL ST 367 “U.S. Refugee Policy and Localities” for listing in Distribution Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences)
  • POLI SCI 356 / LEGAL ST 356 “Constitutional Challenges in Comparative Perspective” for listing in Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences)
  • POLI SCI 380/INT_ST 390 “Refugee Crises & Human Rights”
  • POLI SCI 332/LEGAL ST 332 “Constitutional Law I”
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