Rachel Moran.

Law Professor Rachel Moran to Study Policing in Chile as Fulbright Scholar

Law Professor Rachel Moran has been chosen as a U.S. Scholar by the prestigious Fulbright Program. She will travel to South America in the fall of 2024 to study, “Policing in Times of Mass Protest: Lessons from Uprisings in the United States and Chile.”

“I’m very excited to be selected as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar and have the opportunity to spend a semester in Chile,” Moran said. “I’m interested to see what I can learn from my time there and hope I come back with fresh ideas for improving policing in the United States.”

Moran is among more than 800 U.S. citizens who will teach or conduct research abroad during the 2024-25 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. While in Chile, she will conduct research to compare and contrast the responses of Chilean police to mass political protests in the fall of 2019 with responses of U.S. police to mass political protests in the summer of 2020. The project will also look at the legal and social concerns stemming from those responses and identify better practices for protecting public safety during mass protests.

“I’ve been immersed in police accountability work in Minneapolis and across the U.S. for most of my academic career, but sometimes we forget that other countries too are struggling to build effective law enforcement agencies that both protect public safety and advance human rights,” she said. “Chile is an ideal country for comparative study because it experienced mass political protests very near in time to those in the United States.”

Moran will be hosted by the Universidad de los Andes in Santiago, a longtime university and law school partner, where she will collaborate with two of the university’s criminal law professors in her research. Moran will also teach a seminar course for undergraduate and graduate students on police powers and abuses. It will be based on a course she teaches at St. Thomas, Controversies in Policing.

Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas

“I have found that students in the U.S. are eager not only to engage with substantive law on difficult topics related to policing, but to learn how to dialogue well on polarizing topics like police violence and protests,” Moran said. “I look forward to both learning from and contributing to this type of dialogue with a group of students from outside the United States, who will undoubtedly bring different perspectives to issues like policing and free speech.”

Once Moran returns, she says she will publish her research and seek out opportunities to present her findings at national and international conferences.

“Both the teaching and research components of this project have significant potential to contribute to the public good by advancing understanding of the causes of and solutions to police violence, especially during times of political protest,” she said.

Both the teaching and research components of this project have significant potential to contribute to the public good by advancing understanding of the causes of and solutions to police violence, especially during times of political protest.”

St. Thomas Law Professor Rachel Moran

Moran is a highly regarded legal scholar, particularly on the topics of police accountability, policing reform and public access to records of police misconduct. Her work has been published in top journals, and she is often sought out by local and national media to comment on criminal justice issues.

“Professor Moran is an excellent attorney, a generous colleague and an accomplished scholar,” said Robin Walker Sterling, a professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago, who worked with Moran at University of Denver Sturm College of Law and wrote a letter of recommendation to the Fulbright Program. “She puts the quest for social and racial justice at the center of her teaching and scholarship. Professor Moran is an extraordinary scholar and teacher who inspires her students to continue to pursue justice despite overwhelming odds.”

Moran is the first law school faculty member to be named a Fulbright U.S. Scholar. In 2017, law student Christina Espey-Sundt ’17 J.D. received a Fulbright scholarship to study international refugee and migration law at Vrije University in Amsterdam. Professor Teresa Collett was selected as a Fulbright Specialist in 2022 and traveled to Chile to conduct research as a constitutional law scholar, also at the Universidad de los Andes.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is supported by the people of the U.S. and partner countries around the world. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program. In the U.S., the Institute of International Education supports the implementation of the Fulbright U.S. Student and Scholar Programs on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, including conducting an annual competition for the scholarships.