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

UW Center for Human Rights Annual Report 2022-2023

Massage Parlor Outreach Project members share about their work at the UWCHR’s 2023 Spring Symposium. Photo credit/ Nate Gowdy.

October 3, 2023

Letter from the Director

Angelina Snodgrass Godoy, director of the University of Washington Center for Human Rights

Fifteen years! It’s hard to believe. As I write these words, planning is underway for the celebration of our Center for Human Rights’ fifteen-year anniversary, and I find myself reflecting on all the changes this decade and a half has brought. In some ways, our Center still feels “new”—we’re still small, scrappy, and imbued with that same sense of urgency, squeezing as much impact as we can out of every resource we lay our hands on. (In some ways, I hope we always will be like that; if we’re truly aiming to change the world, we should never get too comfortable.)

In other ways, though, our capacity has grown immensely. Our Center began in 2009–10 with an unfunded mandate;  when we were able to cobble together funds from various sources to support a single half-time student assistant it was a major victory. In this past academic year of 2022–23, we disbursed $249,541 to students across a range of disciplines, campuses, and degree programs. Some of these students worked on CHR projects—helping gather and analyze data, drafting public records requests or research reports, bolstering partner organizations’ on-the-ground work—and others received support to carry out projects of their own design, ranging from hands-on human rights work to doctoral dissertations. In the past two years, we’ve also worked to expand the campus-community collaborations that lie at the core of our UWCHR model by welcoming two new interdisciplinary projects into the fold (see projects updates about the Indigenous Rights and Environmental Sustainability project on page 11 and Researching for Massage Parlor Workers’ Rights on page 14).

Looking back, what’s been most transformational about the UWCHR’s work has been the advancement of this model of students research change, whereby UW graduate and undergraduate students, supervised by faculty with advanced methodological training and issue expertise, conduct research at the service of real-world organizations fighting for change. When it works, it’s a virtuous cycle: students have unparalleled learning opportunities to get involved in research with real-world relevancy; our partner organizations gain the insights of academic experts, tailored to the needs of their day-to-day efforts; and faculty relish the opportunity to contribute knowledge to real-world justice efforts. For most of us, these are among our most fulfilling professional experiences. For me, this vision captures the promise at the heart of the modern public university.

So what lies ahead in the next fifteen years? I hope that in the years to come our Center will have the opportunity to apply this model to a wider swath of pressing human rights issues, including racial, gender, and climate justice both within and beyond our borders. We will welcome new directors, community partners, methodologies, and challenges, but I hope we also hold fast to the spirit of innovation through struggle that forged our path in these early days. And I hope all of you—students, alumni, supporters, professors, and policymakers alike—will join us in 2024 to lift a glass in celebration of all that’s been won, but then, to roll up our sleeves in commitment, for all that remains to be done, together.

Angelina Snodgrass Godoy

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

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