The Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) at Northeastern University School of Law was founded in 2005 to engage in study, promotion, implementation and constructive critique of rights-based approaches to economic development and social transformation. PHRGE supports cutting edge human rights scholarship and movement-building, with particular focus on economic, social and cultural rights, and works with students to ensure that human rights perspectives will continue to be vital to future generations of scholars and advocates.

PHRGE’s mission is threefold:

(1) To promote human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, within the Northeastern community;
(2) To support cutting edge scholarship on human rights with a particular focus on economic, social, and cultural rights;
(3) To work to implement human rights norms and sound economic development approaches worldwide

Who We Are

The Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) is overseen by faculty co-directors Professors Brook Baker, Martha Davis, Lucy Williams and Margaret Woo, and staffed by Assistant Director Elizabeth Ennen and Distinguished Scholar in Residence Alfred Brownell. Twenty-three additional members of the Northeastern law school faculty are PHRGE affiliated faculty. PHRGE also hosts research fellows, law student interns and undergraduate interns.

Faculty Co-Directors

Professor Brook Baker

Professor Lucy A. Williams

Professor Margaret Woo

Professor Martha F. Davis


Elizabeth Ennen, Director
(617) 373-8194

Elizabeth Ennen began working at PHRGE in September 2016 and has been serving as the Acting Executive Director since September 2018. She specializes in asylum law and the rights of noncitizens. Ennen is currently working on a “Safe Communities” project, with the Massachusetts ACLU and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), in which she monitors and analyzes “sanctuary city” or “safe community” initiatives in municipalities throughout Massachusetts.

Ennen holds a PhD in philosophy from McGill University and a JD from Northeastern University School of Law. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Justice Margot Botsford ’73 at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), served as a pro bono asylum attorney and technology consultant at Community Legal Services and Counseling Center (CLSACC) in Cambridge, and volunteered as a research associate at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic. In 2015 the SJC Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services honored her with an Adams Pro Bono Publico Award for her work at CLSACC and at Harvard. Ennen currently serves as the chair of the SJC Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, and as an ex officio member of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission. She is also a member of the Immigration Coalition of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.

Alfred Brownell
Distinguished Scholar in Residence
(617) 373-3307

Alfred Brownell came to the School of Law from Liberia in December 2016. He has been re-appointed as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence for a second year, through December 2018. His faculty sponsor is Lucy Williams. One of Africa’s leading environmental and human rights defenders, Brownell works in the area of indigenous land rights.

As a founder, CEO, and Lead Campaigner at Green Advocates, Liberia’s first public-interest environmental law and human rights organization, Brownell has worked for almost twenty years as researcher, legal counsel and advocate for impoverished rural communities to ensure them a voice in decisions affecting their natural resources. In his field research, Brownell has established the serious human rights impacts of large agribusiness activities, including the destruction of sacred sites, burial grounds, farmlands, forests and wetlands that serve as a primary source of food for local communities. He has also documented the deleterious impact on food security and on traditional subsistence farming practices prompted by the introduction of monocrop agriculture.

Brownell co-authored Liberia’s first comprehensive framework environmental legislation and legislation related to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and Liberia’s progressive land rights policy, which establishes customary land as a category of land ownership with the same status as private property rights. He is also widely recognized for his leadership in the field of natural resource rights. Mr. Brownell serves on the Steering Committee of the Corporate Accountability Working Group of the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) and coordinates inputs from African civil society organizations into to the drafting of a UN treaty on business and human rights. He is a Steering Committee member of the ETO (extraterritorial obligations) Consortium, Coordinating Committee member at OECD-Watch, a founding member of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition and former international board member of the EITI. Regionally, he serves as Head of Secretariat and Facilitator of the Mano River Union Civil Society Natural Resources Rights and Governance Platform, which is bringing a multi-state lawsuit at the ECOWAS Court against seven African governments for their failure to protect the rights of local communities.

Brownell is a 1994 graduate of the University of Liberia, College of Agriculture and Forestry (Bachelor of Science in General Agriculture). He is a 1999 graduate of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia (JD/LLB) and a 2002 graduate of Tulane University Law School, New Orleans, LA (LLM in Environment and Energy Law).

Affiliated Faculty  

Professor Roger I. Abrams

Professor Aziza Ahmed

Professor Leo Beletsky 

Professor Lee P. Breckenridge

Professor Richard A. Daynard

Professor Rashmi Dyal-Chand

Professor Peter D. Enrich

Professor Patricia Illingworth

Professor Karl E. Klare

Professor Sarah Hooke Lee

Professor Jootaek Lee

Professor Tiffany Kim

Clinical Professor Margo Lindauer

Professor Michael Meltsner

Professor Valentine M. Moghadam

Professor Serena Parekh

Professor Wendy Parmet

Professor David Phillips

Gordana Rabrenovic

Professor Sonia Rolland

Professor Rachel Rosenbloom

Academic Specialist Peter Sessa

Professor Liza Weinstein

Senior Fellows

Maria Green
Maria Green’s work focuses on human rights and development, with an emphasis on economic, social and cultural rights and on practical implementation of human rights standards as part of development or anti-poverty policy and practice. She also writes and teaches on issues relating to law, literature and human rights.

Gillian MacNaughton
Gillian MacNaughton was the inaugural Executive Director of the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (2010-2012), and is now a senior fellow with the program as well as an affiliate of the Program on Health Policy and Law at Northeastern University. Gillian is an international human rights lawyer who works on economic and social rights, particularly the rights to health, education, and decent work, and their relationship to equality rights. She is also involved in developing human rights-based methodology and tools, including human rights impact assessment and indicators.

Legal Fellows

Mariah McGill

Mariah McGill served as the Assistant Director of the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) from 2012 to 2014. In 2016, Mariah was a Fellow at the Snelling Center for Government in Vermont. She is now a human rights lawyer who specializes in the rights to health and education, and a Legal Fellow at PHRGE. Her recent research has been published in Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, Health and Human Rights Journal and Northeastern University Law Journal.