Letter from the Director
As is common after graduation, several of my students asked me for career advice this June. In our conversations, held in coffee shops and on park benches in the beautiful Seattle summer, I shared some version of the quote from Aristotle, “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation.” As I sit down to write this reflection about the Center for Human Rights’ work this year, I realize this sums up a good deal about our organization as well. After all, we harness the university community’s skills in research, writing, and advocacy, to place this capacity at the service of real-world social change in partnership with organizations working for human rights. We are a young institution, founded only four years ago, but I’m pleased to see so many signs that our early successes are consolidating into a new model of engaged human rights education.
As you’ll read in this Annual Report, we’ve enjoyed great successes on multiple fronts. The most dramatic of these has occurred in our El Salvador project, where recent weeks brought truly stunning news about significant advances in the struggle for justice for crimes against humanity (please see page 6). But we have many other accomplishments to report as well. In the past year, several of our faculty reaped recognition for their work; I’m particularly proud to note that Katherine Beckett, recipient of the University of Washington’s Public Service Award, and Glenda Pearson, this year’s Distinguished Librarian awardee, are members of our Center’s steering committee! Of course, many other human rights faculty also earned important accolades this year (see page 10). Thanks to the deep generosity of the Puffin Foundation, this year we welcomed the globally-recognized jurist Baltasar Garzón into our ranks as the ALBA-Puffin Visiting Lecturer in Human Rights (see page 3). And we had the honor, once again, of supporting some of the University’s best students, thanks to our two endowed funds that underwrite their projects in human rights (see page 4).
As Center Director, I have the privilege of working to connect the talents of this “dream team” with the human rights needs of our world. And I have successes to report there as well: in the last year, a number of our projects contributed significantly to policy improvements (see page 3). Through careful research, engagement with elected officials, and education, our Center is helping to expand the enjoyment of human rights in our world.
Moreover, our projects are achieving not only impact, but continuity; in each of our program areas our active collaborations are maturing into new phases. Our collaboration with OneAmerica provides one example; after concluding our joint effort examining human rights in immigrant communities near Washington’s Northern border, we are now gearing up for a new initiative assessing the impact of deportation on families in our state. Similarly, our project on Human Rights and historical memory in El Salvador concluded an initial phase in March 2013, and I’m pleased to report we’ve now secured funding that enables us to deepen our engagement over the next three years. In Human Rights and the Environment, similarly, we’ve been invited to submit a proposal for a follow-up to the project that concluded this year.
So, thank you! Thank you for supporting our vision of education for transformation – because human rights is not a subject best taught in the sterility of a traditional classroom, but one understood through hands-on involvement in solution-seeking. This is why our work spans education and action, teaching and learning, and why I believe it holds such promise. It’s also why I tell my students seeking career advice that I think I have the best job in the world: I get to work with the best and brightest, applying their skills to some of the most compelling challenges of our time. I am grateful every day for the community of support that makes this endeavor possible.