During his tenure as Dean of The Fletcher School, General John Rogers Galvin was deeply committed to the establishment of a new initiative that would strengthen Fletcher’s presence, visibility, and impact in the eradication of extreme misery, oppression, and violence in troubled regions around the world. Together with faculty, whose work lay at the intersection of humanitarianism, development, human rights, and conflict resolution, The Fletcher School founded the Institute for Human Security in 2000.

The term human security brings together the concerns and practices that deal with the many faces of, and close relations between, freedom from fear and freedom from want. To this end, the Institute for Human Security brings together people from areas of specialization as different as law, nutrition, politics, public health, psychology, business and economics, in search of a common goal – to conduct cutting edge research, education, and policy engagement to address today’s global challenges, with a strong ultimate focus on the well-being of all human beings.

Dr. Peter Uvin, while the Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies at The Fletcher School, served as founding Director (2000-2013). Dr. Eileen F. Babbitt, Professor of Practice, International Conflict Analysis and Resolution, succeeded Dr. Uvin as Director in 2014. In 2020, Dr. Katrina Burgess, Associate Professor of Political Economy, succeeded Dr. Babbitt.

The Institute for Human Security was renamed the Henry J. Leir Institute in 2017. View a video below from the renaming event, at which Tufts University President Anthony Monaco and Leir Charitable Foundations President Margot Gibis speak on the life and legacy of Henry J. Leir.

In 2021, the Henry J. Leir Institute initiated a strategic positioning process to hone Leir’s mission, roles, and constituencies and to ensure our institutional relevance and sustainability at a time when a human security approach is more needed than ever. The results of that process identified that Leir’s strength rests at the intersection of human security and migration. People around the world are fleeing human insecurity in the form of war, economic collapse, non-state violence, and climate change. Meanwhile, displacement creates its own human security challenges by jeopardizing livelihoods and safety, particularly in the context of militarized responses by states. In 2022, the Institute officially adopted its new name—the Henry J. Leir Institute for Migration and Human Security—along with a new mission that leverages our network, expertise, and innovative research to address migration and its root causes using a human security approach.