The Human Rights Program is launching a set of initiatives, which serve as a focal point for program activities. The initiatives build on existing projects and offerings at Trinity College, capitalizing on the program’s location within the Center for Urban and Global Studies and creating new opportunities for engaging human rights issues. The five initiatives, described below, are intended to be mutually reinforcing themes that enhance coherence across several areas: the human rights curriculum, lecture and film series, faculty and student projects, and other co-curricular and community-oriented proposals. The initiatives promise to foster cross-fertilization not only within the program but across the College.
Rights Across Borders
This initiative explores human rights issues across borders, whether traditional borders between countries and communities or the borders that separate disciplines, theory and practice, or other prominent cleavages in the human rights field. The program’s lecture series, human rights courses, and roundtable discussions all support this cross-cutting initiative. The program also encourages faculty and student projects that address human rights issues across borders, broadly conceived. The goal is to advance innovative thinking about human rights questions and problems in a globalizing world.
Performing Rights: Art and Social Justice
This initiative deepens our awareness of how human rights issues intersect with the arts, bringing a diverse mix of socially conscious visual and performing arts to the campus—including films, dance and theater performances, photography exhibits, and poetry readings. It also encourages the creation and presentation of art works on campus by students and faculty that focus on human rights themes and that bring the arts into an ongoing dialogue with the Human Rights Program. The initiative is linked to a unique course, titled Human Rights through Performance.
Housed within Trinity’s Center for Urban and Global Studies, the Human Rights Program is uniquely situated to bridge the divide between human rights at home and abroad. To this end, the program seeks to facilitate conversations that will advance our understanding of local human rights conditions in the Greater Hartford community. How relevant, and potentially useful, are international human rights norms and practices to local needs in the United States? What, in turn, do the experiences of local groups suggest for the global discourse and practice of human rights? This multi-year, experiential learning initiative supports close student-faculty-community interaction and serves as a potential template for similar projects elsewhere. An exploratory Human Rights-in-Hartford Working Group will convene in 2007-2008.
The Human Rights Program seeks to foster more open and vigorous debate about human rights issues. To this end, it organizes lectures and panels that examine the contested nature of rights, both in the United States and abroad—from debates about whether a human rights framework is always appropriate for protecting the rights of marginalized groups to clashing constitutional rights in a post-9/11 world. The initiative is related to a First-Year Seminar (Debating Human Rights) and to an annual student research paper competition.
Human Rights in the Liberal Arts Education
As the first human rights program at a liberal arts college in the United States, Trinity’s program both promotes research on the role of human rights in a liberal arts education and advises other undergraduate institutions interested in creating a human rights program. Additionally, several human rights courses in the program include community-learning projects that directly engage students in human rights education. Under this initiative, the program also assists Trinity students in securing coveted human rights internships and preparing for postgraduate academic and professional opportunities.