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Home / Commencement / Commencement Archive / 2023 Commencement / Commencement 2023 Citations & Remarks / Bradley R. Dewey Award for Outstanding Scholarship Citation in Honor of Susan Dicklitch-Nelson

Bradley R. Dewey Award for Outstanding Scholarship Citation in Honor of Susan Dicklitch-Nelson

Dr. Susan Dicklitch-Nelson is an idea person. She is naturally drawn to work that is complex, puzzling, and often ignored by mainstream or popular outlets. Chances are, if you run into her in a meeting, she will be extremely animated and brainstorming big solutions to big problems. She is also a fierce advocate of social justice. She is passionate and curious about LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities, and has a deep commitment to improving their lives. Finally, she has a keen sense of talent. She knows that she alone can’t fully implement her ideas and she creates highly qualified teams that help put her ideas into practice.

These core characteristics have led Dr. Dicklitch-Nelson to enjoy a distinguished career at F&M, where she has innovated in the classroom, developed a ground-breaking research agenda, and led some of F&M’s earliest work in community-based learning efforts over the past 25 years. Perhaps her greatest legacy will be the founding of three online tools for scholars and policy-makers: 1) F&M’s Global Barometer of Gay Rights; 2) F&M’s Global Barometer of Transgender Rights; and 3) F&M’s Global Barometers’ LGBTQI+ Perception Index. These tools measure state-and societal-level protection or persecution of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity minorities worldwide. They are used regularly by policy-makers in organizations like USAID and the White House, as well as many of their partners from around the world.


One nomination letter eloquently describes this work: “I hope that the creativity, high-profile and breadth of the GBGR and GBTR stands out, as it reaches across the globe, into the hands of policy-makers, and into our students’ lives and careers. It meets and surpasses the traditional markers of scholarly excellence.”

The tools have been supported by grants totaling nearly $1.2 million, which allows her to employ a team of five researchers and assistants, thereby developing a pipeline of future social scientists who can continue to research the issue of LGBTQ+ rights around the world. The tools have also led to several peer-reviewed publications, in journals such as Human Rights Quarterly, the Journal of Human Rights, and the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. Yet, her work is not confined to academic journals with limited audiences. She has placed op-eds in some of the nation’s most widely read media outlets, such as the Conversation, the Hill, and the Global Post. She often co-authors with her students, colleagues, and alumni who form part of her team.

Dr. Dicklitch-Nelson’s innovations do not stop with her research. She regularly teaches classes about human rights, immigration, and African politics, always engaging students in as many ways that are possible. Due to this experience, she has been called as an expert witness for over 100 asylum cases. Dr. Dicklitch-Nelson’s research and pedagogy intersect in her nationally-recognized course called “Human Rights/Human Wrongs,” which provides students with a hands-on experience to learn about refugee resettlement and immigration law. In a recent event, one alumna told the Government honors students that her own professional success as an immigration lawyer is directly related to taking this course.

Another nomination letter best sums up her career, noting that “[t]he impact of the work that she has done, and continues to do, represents the best of what academia can hope to be: a mirror held up to the world that we live in to simultaneously reflect back all of the cracks in what we think we are, and to show us what we could be.”

Susan Dicklitch-Nelson

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