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Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law

CERL’s Summer Internship Program

The Summer Internship Program prepares professional and graduate level students interested in the national security field by providing an ethics and rule of law foundation so that future perspectives, leadership, and decision-making are always rooted in the rule of law. Our interns help further CERL’s mission as well through research, writing, and conference planning, and gain valuable insights through conversations with national security experts on the critical issues facing our nation today.

CERL is a non-partisan institute that preserves and promotes ethics and the rule of law in national security, democratic governance, conflict, and war. The only center of its kind housed within a law school, CERL draws from the study of law, philosophy, and ethics, and unites scholars, policymakers, and practitioners, to probe critical issues through the lens of ethics and the rule of law. Using the tools of interdisciplinary engagement and open dialogue, CERL experts answer the hard questions that arise when the rule of law is threatened or violated, and provides guidance that helps safeguard U.S. democracy. Read more about CERL’s mission.

Information on the 2021 summer program and application are not yet available.  We will post when the application process begins.

The CERL Summer Internship Class of 2020

CERL’s  internship program was conducted entirely online this summer by CERL’s leaders and senior research fellows. 

Top row l to r: Souvik Chatterjee, Aedan Collins, Jane Wang, Peter Neal, Jeongwoung Park, Henry Scherck, Andrew Figueiredo
Bottom row l to r: Rebecca Bierstein, Quinn Dunkak, Ashley Fuchs, Dylan O’Conner, Alana Sheppard, Natasha Spreadborough, Robert Stoffa

What interns had to say about the program….

“I was able to interact with incredibly intelligent co-interns from across the country as well as work with and receive mentorship from some of the most highly regarded legal professionals working in the federal government and national security.” --Dylan O’Connor,
University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, J.D. program

“I thoroughly enjoyed listening to and interacting with the incredible guest speakers. (2) Despite the remote work environment, the team meetings and events were engaging, and the schedule was always clearly communicated.” —Ashley Fuchs, University of Pennsylvania College of Arts & Sciences, B.S. program

“The CERL internship accomplished the two things you hope for in any job or internship: substantive and important work that you take pride in and an opportunity to learn about an area or industry from those who lead it. The work that I did, and the people I worked with to do it, may very well be already known to my next employer.” —Peter Neal

“Good level of independence in the internship. We were allowed to develop creative angles on the topics.” —Andrew Figueiredo, 
University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, J.D. program

“I never once felt that my work as a CERL intern was unimportant or discounted; CERL allowed us to contribute substantial work product right from the jump and that dynamic never changed. I also felt a great deal of respect from the senior fellows. I enjoyed working with them very much.”—Quinn Dunkak, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, J.D. program

“Fantastic slate of speakers. The opportunity to engage with such a qualified range of speakers is unrivaled in my internship and work experience.”—Henry Scherck, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, J.D. program

“It was an honor to speak with the presenters this summer and hear about their experiences within the natsec/legal world Everyone who spoke with us provided information that we would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. I really enjoyed getting to know my teammates and the team leaders/board advisors. I also appreciated that the projects were fluid and changed in response to the research that our teams produced.” —Jane Wang, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, J.D. program

“CERL gave me the opportunity to interact with people at the highest levels of military, law, and business. As a non-lawyer, I gained a much better understanding and appreciation for the law.” —Souvik Chatterjee, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, M.P.A. program


About the CERL Summer Internship Program

CERL interns work in teams under the supervision of CERL’s leadership and have the opportunity to:

  • Research critical ethical and rule of law issues affecting the United States today
    During the 2020 program, each intern served on teams that examined the ethical and rule of law issues in the areas of 2020 election security, nuclear threat escalation, U.S. violent extremism, today’s Department of Justice policies and practices, Arctic climate change, states’ and federal COVID-19 response, and lasting damage to the rule of law as a result of the CIA’s illegal post-9/11 torture program carried out at Guantánamo Bay and other detention camps.
  • Help plan CERL’s conferences, workshops, and public programs
  • Publish original works for CERL’s blog, The Rule of Law Post
  • Help prepare CERL policy briefings and contribute to CERL academic publications
  • Interact with leading academics and practitioners in the national security field and CERL Executive Board members

Law students and graduate students in philosophy, political science, international relations, and other related fields who are interested in examining the intersection of rule of law values, applied ethics, and national security are encouraged to apply. Applicants are encouraged to seek funding from their home institution or from outside sources; stipends will be offered on a limited basis for students who are unable to obtain funding. If accepted into the program, international students are responsible for securing the proper work visas. 

Applicants must complete the application form and submit a cover letter, CV or resume, transcript, writing sample, and names and contact information of two references. Applications will be evaluated and offers will be made on a rolling basis.

The application process for the 2021 Summer Internship Program has not yet begun. Please check back periodically for information.

Please address any inquiries about the 2020 program to cerl@law.upenn.edu.