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Education for Transformation: Annual Report 2017-2018

Team meeting where Director Angelina Godoy shares massive dataset received from public records requests. (Photo: Corinne Thrash for Columns)
Team meeting where Director Angelina Godoy shares massive dataset received from public records requests. (Photo: Corinne Thrash for Columns)

November 6, 2018

Letter From the Director

A few days ago, a neighbor thanked me for my work in human rights. She shook her head as she said it, as if to convey the impression that our work is a depressing act of service performed amid challenging times—but I told her it’s quite the opposite. The energy and enthusiasm and creativity of our students, the insights of our faculty, and the unfailing commitment of our staff make the UW Center for Human Rights one of the most optimistic places I know.

In 2018-19, we will celebrate our tenth anniversary year. We formally came into being in June 2009 when Gov. Gregoire signed the bill mandating our creation, but as it was an unfunded mandate, our earliest months were spent imagining ourselves into existence. Since then, our model of education for transformation has garnered growing support on and beyond campus—support that we translate into unparalleled opportunities for our students to engage in hands-on human rights work.

True to the mission inscribed in that founding legislation, we conduct research to produce knowledge enabling real-world human rights gains, in partnership with frontlines advocates. Today, we boast three engaged projects, each of which has notched important gains in the past year:

  • Our “Unfinished Sentences” project seeking justice for crimes against humanity committed in El Salvador settled our lawsuit against the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency after obtaining hundreds of pages of relevant documents. We also launched a second, similar lawsuit against the Department of Defense, and began a psychosocial project supporting survivors’ healing processes.
  • In collaboration with the Public Defender Association, UWCHR’s “Rethinking Punishment” project helped birth a new initiative exploring the possibilities for restorative justice by working to foster accountability and promote healing among incarcerated men and women in our state. The program offers an alternative to conventional punishment, which for too long has failed to address victims’ needs while overcrowding prisons, and exacerbating inequality.
  • Our “Human Rights at Home” project launched, exploring the human rights consequences of immigration enforcement in our state. Working with immigrant rights organizations, this project deploys student researchers to obtain and analyze data about enforcement practices and their impact.
  • In addition to involving students in the aforementioned opportunities, over the years we’ve distributed almost $650,000 to support students’ own human rights engagements. Some of these funds support undergraduates who join our research teams; others help Ph.D. students complete dissertations. Still others support students who design new projects and carry them out in partnership with communities struggling for their rights.

It’s this incessant work to make our world better that brings a palpable energy to our Center. As we approach our tenth anniversary, I invite you to learn more about what we do, and to join with us in striving to expand our reach in the years ahead.

Angelina Snodgrass Godoy

Helen H. Jackson Chair in Human Rights
Director, Center for Human Rights
Professor of International Studies and Law, Societies, and Justice

Inside This Issue

Education for Transformation: Annual Report 2017-2018 (PDF)