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Center for Human Rights - Celebrating 15 Years! Students • Partners • Research

Our Redoubled Commitment to Human Rights

Student protest

February 22, 2017

As scholars at the University of Washington Center for Human Rights, we believe research, teaching, and engagement with human rights is today more urgent than ever, yet we are gravely concerned about the future of our enterprise. We are committed to conducting research using the tools of our disciplines – from the social and natural sciences to the humanities and arts – to discern lessons that inform public understanding of rights and responsibilities. In the academy, knowledge is produced and fortified through the open exchange of ideas, substantiated by evidence, debated by peers, and shared freely with the public. These practices lie at the core of our university’s mission, and yet today are hampered by a climate in which leaders promote policies rooted in falsehoods rather than facts. We are alarmed by our national government’s recent attempts to erase or destroy information about the operation of its agencies, to undercut scientific research, and to attack the very notion that human rights matter, indeed that promoting their broadest possible realization is the maximal task of democratic government.

We are also human rights advocates. While human rights is not a partisan issue, it is also not neutral in the face of violence, hatred, and fear. We are concerned about growing intolerance for the basic human rights of racial, ethnic, or religious communities, or of women, people with disabilities, or LGBTQ people. Expressions of such ideologies have recently circulated on our own campus. While universities flourish thanks to the free expression of discordant ideas, the promotion of violence against political opponents and the advocacy of ideologies promoting the supremacy of certain groups over others are inimical to this free exchange. We reject efforts to sow hatred in our midst and affirm our commitment to a campus community in which all people are welcomed and valued.

Our Center for Human Rights was founded in 2009, with the bipartisan passage of a bill in the Washington state legislature. This legislation instructed the university to “expand opportunities for Washington residents to receive a world-class education in human rights, [and] generate research data and expert knowledge to enhance public and private policymaking.” It directed us to derive inspiration and instruction from, among other sources, the founding documents of the United States of America and the core notions of rights contained within them. Since that time, we have been proud to work with the University of Washington’s outstanding faculty, students, and staff, and with community partners within and beyond our state, toward the defense and promotion of human rights. Today, we redouble our commitment to continuing this work in the months and years ahead.


Gunnar Almgren Katherine Beckett Rachel Berney
Sharan Brown Elizabeth Bruch Rachel Cichowski
Robert Crawford Sara Curran Kirsten Foot
Michael Forman Vanessa Freije Kathie Friedman
Batya Friedman Maria Elena Garcia Steve Gardiner
Benjamin Gardner Christoph Giebel Stephen Gloyd
Sara Goering Ricardo Gomez Steven Herbert
Rachel Hershberg Daniel Hoffman Judith Howard
Lucy Jarosz Resat Kasaba Aaron Katz
Turan Kayaoglu Emily Keller Bruce Kochis
Ron Krabill Dennis Lang George Lovell
Jose Antonio Lucero Jamie Mayefeld Michael McCann
Stephen Meyers Katharyne Mitchell Arzoo Osanloo
Michael Vicente Perez Janet Primomo Beth Rivin
Laurie Sears Julie Shayne Angelina Snodgrass Godoy
Matthew Sparke Cynthia Steele David Suarez
William Talbott Stewart Tolnay Geoffrey Wallace
Camille Walsh Charles Williams Louis Wolcher
Megan Ybarra