Fall Semester Dedicated to Human Rights Issues
By Allison Thompson, Office of University Communications
STORRS, Conn. -- More than three dozen human rights related activities will
take place on the University of Connecticut's campuses this fall as part of a
Human Rights Semester.
Designated by Chancellor John D. Petersen, the semester's activities are
intended to underscore the importance of human rights and to inform and engage
members of the University community and interested members of the public about
this critical topic. During a series of lectures, programs and conferences,
faculty, staff, students and members of the community will have the opportunity
to learn about and discuss human rights throughout the world.
"As an academic community, we have a responsibility to discuss issues that
affect not only those of us on campus, but those fundamental issues that impact
people living in our state, our nation, and our world," Petersen says. "Human
rights is one of those issues that must be discussed in an open forum, whether
topic is racial discrimination, voting rights, or wartime torture and rape."
The Human Rights Semester kicks off Sept. 20 with a lecture on human rights
and the culture wars by Rhoda Howard-Hassmann, Gladstein Visiting Professor
of Human Rights and a sociology professor at McMaster University in Canada.
Dozens of lectures, exhibits and symposia will take place on all UConn's
campuses this fall, beginning later this month when incoming freshman arrive.
The events include an all-day conference on education for human rights
sponsored by the UConn-ANC Partnership; a lecture by Lani Guinier, whose
nomination for assistant attorney general was withdrawn by President Bill
after critics branded her a "quota queen"; a talk by Randall Robinson,
author of the book, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks; a UConn
symposium titled Global Aids Crisis: The Intersection of Human Rights,
International Markets, and Intellectual Property; and
museum exhibits on rescuers of the Holocaust, Cambodia's killing fields
and sculptures by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz.
With television and the Internet bringing foreign and domestic conflicts
and abuses into people's homes and the nation's collective consciousness,
the issue of
human rights is becoming increasingly important and noteworthy. Human
rights abuses on this and virtually every other continent now dominate
and spur calls to action.
While many institutions of higher learning have demonstrated an interest
in human rights, UConn has been garnering international attention for its
global partnerships. Through a variety of programs, such as partnerships
with the African National Congress (ANC) and the University of Fort Hare
Africa, the University has made a significant commitment to studying and
advancing human rights, and obtained significant financial resources to
As part of it partnership with the ANC, the University is assisting in
efforts to catalogue ANC archival material, helping South Africa reclaim
and retell its
history. The Gladstein Lecture, established last year, brings a distinguished
human rights scholar to campus each year. In addition, a human rights
minor -- an
interdepartmental, interdisciplinary plan of study requiring 12 classroom
credits and a three-credit internship -- has been established.
"The University has clearly made enormous strides in establishing human
rights as an important part of both our public and our academic programs. The
Human Rights Semester will offer us another opportunity to discuss and share
these important issues with students, faculty, staff and interested
Petersen. "I hope everyone in the University community will join me
in attending events that will illuminate these issues and give us a
better understanding of
what we must do to make this a society that reflects and practices
justice and humanity."
A calendar of Human Rights
Semester events is available on the Internet.
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