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After Harvard Kennedy School Fellowship Rejection and Reversal, Ken Roth to Speak at IOP Forum

Ken Roth, who came into the spotlight after reports that his Harvard Kennedy School fellowship was revoked due to his criticism of Israel, will speak at a Feb. 8 Institute of Politics Forum.
Ken Roth, who came into the spotlight after reports that his Harvard Kennedy School fellowship was revoked due to his criticism of Israel, will speak at a Feb. 8 Institute of Politics Forum. By Julian J. Giordano
By Thomas J. Mete and Asher J. Montgomery, Crimson Staff Writers

The Harvard Institute of Politics announced Kenneth Roth will speak at a Feb. 8 JFK Jr. Forum, roughly a month after reports emerged alleging Roth was blocked from a fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights over his criticism of Israel.

At next Wednesday’s forum, Roth will discuss major changes to the landscape of human rights work, his experience leading Human Rights Watch, and “the future of human rights,” the IOP announced Sunday.

This announcement comes 10 days after Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf — who often sits in the front row at the IOP’s JFK Jr. Forums — reversed his veto on Roth’s fellowship appointment. Elmendorf’s decision to block Roth’s fellowship drew widespread backlash from student groups and faculty members, with more than 1,000 students signing an open letter to University President Lawrence S. Bacow calling for Elmendorf’s resignation.

Roth wrote in a statement to The Crimson that he plans to address the controversy surrounding Elmendorf’s initial decision to block his appointment.

“I’m glad finally to have the opportunity belatedly to start my fellowship at the Kennedy School,” he wrote. “My focus isn’t the Dean’s initial veto of my fellowship because of my criticism of Israel, but that is the gorilla in the room that I undoubtedly will have to address as well.”

During the forum, Mathias Risse, the director of the Carr Center, will deliver remarks and introduce Roth. Risse, who informed Roth his fellowship had been vetoed, previously wrote that explaining the decision “was one of the lowest moments in my professional life,” according to an email Risse sent to Carr Center affiliates.

The event will be moderated by outgoing Carr Center Executive Director Sushma Raman, who currently serves as the president and CEO of the Heising-Simons Foundation. Raman is set to step down as executive director on Feb. 10, with her decision to leave announced soon after the Kennedy School came under scrutiny for Elmendorf’s veto of Roth’s fellowship. She did not say whether her resignation was related to the fellowship decision.

Only Harvard ID holders can register to attend the forum in person, according to the IOP’s website. Registration for virtual attendance is not required, and the event will be streamed live via IOP social media pages.

Correction: January 31, 2023

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Sushma Raman had departed her role as executive director of the Carr Center. In fact, though Raman’s departure was announced on Jan. 11, she will continue as executive director until Feb. 10.

—Staff writer Thomas J. Mete can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @thomasjmete.

—Staff writer Asher J. Montgomery can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @asherjmont.

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