Laboratory Teaching and Mentoring

Principal Investigator. Varieties of Truth Commissions Project


International Justice Lab, W&M, Fall 2019–Present

Security and Political Economy Lab, USC, Spring 2018–Summer 2019

Since 1970, scores of states have established truth commissions to account for abuses perpetrated in inter and intra state conflict, and under authoritarian government. Despite their prevalence and potential consequence, there are crucial, fundamental questions about truth commissions that have yet to be asked and answered in the interrelated literatures of human rights, transitional justice, democracy and democratization, and conflict resolution and peacebuilding, notably:

  1. Why do some countries with a history of political violence adopt truth commissions while others do not?

  2. Why do some commissions possess strong investigative powers while others do not?

  3. What policies do commissions recommend to governments and other actors, and why?

  4. To what extent are commission recommendations implemented, and why?

In Spring and Summer 2018, the team:

  • Identified the universe of truth commissions in the period, 1970-2018. = 84.

  • Coded more than 60 variables capturing information about commissions’ mandates (e.g., scope of investigation, power to subpoena perpetrators, power to hold private hearings).


In Summer and Fall 2018, the team:

  • Coded 70 additional variables capturing commissions’ policy recommendations (e.g., monetary compensation for victims, rehabilitation of perpetrators).


In Spring and Summer 2019, the team:

  • Tracked the implementation of hundreds of recommendations made by the truth commissions in Guatemala and South Africa.

  • Coded which, why, and by whom recommendations are implemented—information crucial to ascertaining the direct impacts of truth commissions.

Co-Investigator. The World Bank & Human Rights (with Benjamin Graham). Security and Political Economy Lab, USC, January–December 2017

Following decades of criticism from the human rights community, the World Bank created two novel, yet under-scrutinized, quasi-judicial bodies: the Inspection Panel and Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO). Designed to respond to complaints submitted by or on behalf of project-affected communities, the Inspection Panel and CAO have changed the landscape of development finance and international administrative law over the past two decades.


In Spring and Summer 2017, students:

  • Coded data that provide a comprehensive overview of the types of actors that bring complaints before the Inspection Panel and CAO, the issues raised, and the frequency and nature of successful outcomes. This data is introduced in my working paper, "The World Bank as an Enforcer of Human Rights," co-authored with Benjamin Graham.

  • Prepared the online appendices.

  • Produced data visualizations.

  • Completed training in Human Subjects Research from the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI Program).

  • Conducted elite interviews with representatives from human rights NGOs that have assisted complainants at the Inspection Panel and CAO.​


In Fall 2017, students:

  • Coded data on a follow-up to "The World Bank as an Enforcer of Human Rights" which examines regional development banks which have attempted to replicate the Inspection Panel and CAO.

  • Joined us for annual meetings of the American Political Science Association and the International Studies Association-West.​

Classroom Teaching

Please click here for a summary of my teaching evaluations in the USC Department of Political Science.

Teaching Assistant for Law, Politics, and Public Policy. Instructor: Alison Dundes Renteln. Fall 2016.

This course introduces the major schools of Western jurisprudence—natural law, legal positivism, and sociological jurisprudence—through which students learn to evaluate just and unjust social policy outcomes. Via a comparative method, students gain insights into how the law enables and hinders social change at home and abroad. Topics covered include the politics of race, gender, culture, the environment, science, and human rights. (Evaluations)

Teaching Assistant for Law, Politics, and Public Policy. Instructor: Jeb Barnes. Spring 2017.


This course inquires into judges as policy makers in contemporary American politics. Students consider both the promise and limits of courts for orderly dispute resolution, correcting political failures, and promoting social justice. Students learn to theorize under what circumstances courts will be constrained by doctrine, institutions, and culture, and when they will succeed in effecting policy change. Topics covered include civil rights, torts, and the regulation of hazards and the environment. (Evaluations)

Teaching Awards & Qualifications

Additional training workshops listed on CV.

Certificate, Future Faculty Teaching Institute | USC Center for Excellence in Teaching, 2017-2018


I was invited to participate in the Future Faculty Institute's inaugural cohort in academic year 2017-2018. The Institute consisted of 14 workshops which covered a range of topics in effective pedagogy, including aligning assignments and assessments to course learning objectives, active learning strategies, and engaging diversity in the classroom.

USC Award for Excellence in Teaching | USC Center for Excellence in Teaching, 2018

And nominee for the University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Best Teaching Assistant | USC Political Science and International Relations, 2017

Awarded annually to two outstanding teaching assistants from the POIR Ph.D. program

Teaching Philosophy

Full statement available here.

Critical inquiry | Ubuntu | Global and local impact

My teaching philosophy is rooted in lessons from my first teachers, my parents, who cultivated my curiosity of the world. Despite the predominant cultural belief in children (and especially girls) being seen but not heard in Zimbabwe, my parents encouraged me to ask questions, share my thoughts, and zealously defend my voice in a world which would attempt to silence me. The primary goal of my teaching is, therefore, to pique and develop student interest in political institutions and human behavior, and create a safe learning environment in which students are empowered to critically inquire into, de-construct, and re-construct the political world around them. Enhancing substantive knowledge, data literacy, oral and written communication, and teamwork are focal points of my teaching. These are critical for students’ personal and academic development, and post-baccalaureate endeavors. 

© 2020 by Kelebogile Zvobgo.