May 5, 2006
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—Max Rettig, a 2005 graduate of Amherst College, has been awarded a J. William Fulbright Fellowship for postgraduate study in Rwanda.
In his Fulbright proposal, Rettig wrote that he wants to continue the work that he began with his senior thesis at Amherst, on justice in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. He will observe the local community-based trials that the Rwandans call gacaca. The word means “grass,” and the process is meant to “promote justice, reconciliation and national unity. Based on a system of plea-bargaining, gacaca would allow those who confess their crimes to halve their sentences by performing community service.” Currently a research associate at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, Rettig studied law, jurisprudence and social thought at Amherst, where he received a B.A. degree summa cum laude in 2005, and a Five College certificate in African studies. He expects to graduate with a J.D. degree from Columbia University Law School in 2010. He plans a career in human rights.
Rettig received the Edward Jones Prize at Amherst for the outstanding thesis dealing with Africa, and also the Robert Cover Award for achievement in law, jurisprudence and social thought. The editor of The Indicator, a college social and political journal, Rettig also contributed to The Amherst Student, the student weekly, and worked as a writing tutor and writing assistant. He played varsity tennis at Amherst, and was the team captain.
Congress created the Fulbright Program in 1946 to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges. Senator J. William Fulbright, sponsor of the legislation, viewed scholarship as an alternative to armed conflict. Today the Fulbright Program, the federal government’s premier scholarship program, funded by an annual Congressional appropriation and contributions from other participating countries, allows Americans to study or conduct research in more than 100 nations.