Letter from the Director
Five years already!
Since the UW CHR’s founding in June 2009 we’ve been launched headlong into the process of institution-building. When June rolled around this year, I could hardly believe five years had already passed. Happily, the anniversary provided a welcome occasion to look back on the work we’ve accomplished, and to lay the groundwork for ongoing growth in the years ahead.
As the inaugural director, for the first five years of our organization’s existence I spent a lot of time forging connections beyond our campus. This makes sense, given our unique mandate: we’re the only human rights center in the nation to have been created by an act of the state legislature, and the 2009 law that brought us into being tasks us with working in partnership with human rights practitioners to improve real-world outcomes. Personally, I think that’s what generates the most powerful educational opportunities for our students: they learn by doing, working alongside leading scholars and frontlines advocates. By nature, therefore, we’re an organization with one foot in the academy and one foot in the “real world”; straddling those divides isn’t always easy, but it’s what makes our work so rewarding.
Today, I’m proud to say we have forged ties with organizations including Amnesty International, the Baltasar Garzón Foundation, Landesa, OneAmerica, and others, as well as with governmental bodies like the Seattle City Council and Seattle Human Rights Commission. You can read more about the work conducted through these partnerships in the pages of this Annual Report.
But at the UWCHR, it is our own students who are the lifeblood of our work. In May, as we took stock of what we’ve accomplished in our first five years, I reflected on the ways our Center has shaped both graduate and undergraduate education at the University of Washington. This past year alone, we distributed $97,406 to support student human rights work. Some of these funds support-ed students involved in our faculty-led initiatives; others sent students into the field to carry out human rights efforts of their own design (for more on this, see page 3). All of it, I’m confident, was money well-spent.
As we embark on our second five years, I’m pleased to announce the endowment of a new fund to support students in human rights (see page 10) and to share the news, in these pages, of some of the ways our efforts are transforming education in human rights at the University of Washington and beyond.
Thank you for your support of this important work!