"Do You Remember?": Deconstructing Memory Within Human Rights
NUCHR's 15th annual conference on human rights took place from January 11-13, 2018. The weekend featured a series of panels, keynote speakers, experiential learning events, and field trips revolving around the topic of memory and human rights. Site visits from the conference included World Relief Chicago, the American Indian Center, Center on Halsted, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, and StoryCorps Chicago. Our range of high-profile speakers included neuroscientists, activists, journalists, artists, authors, educators, policy makers, and historians. The opening keynote was given by Paul Rusesabagina, hailed worldwide as a hero for saving more than 1,000 lives at a hotel he managed in Rwanda in 1994 in the midst of the Rwandan Genocide. His story was portrayed in the award-winning film Hotel Rwanda. Followed by panels on Roots - "Formation and Endurance," Branches - “Consolidation and Excavation,” and Seeds- “Reconstruction and Resilience,” the conferences closed with a keynote by Carmen Perez, a national Co-Chair of the 2017 Women's March on Washington.
ART X HUMAN RIGHTS: PROPAGANDA, PROTEST, POWER
The 14th Annual Conference on Human Rights led student delegates to examine and explore the intersection of art and human rights through workshops and discussions, emphasizing the powerful and often conflicting role that art plays in the fight for human rights. Delegates unraveled the powerful and often conflicting role that art plays in the fight for human rights, from the oppressive force of propaganda to the inspiring use of art as a tool for social change. The conference illustrated the varied impacts that different mediums, ranging from visual art, photography, graffiti, spoken word, theater, music, and more have on the spaces they occupy and the audiences who experience them. Delegates went on field trips to Chicago neighborhoods rich in artistic history and engaged with with a talented cohort of local artists and activists. The conference was bookended with keynote speeches from film directors Nomi Talisman & Dee Hibbert-Jones and graphic artist Daniel Arzola.
Human Rights in Business: A Movement Towards Corporate Consciousness
This year’s conference examined and critiqued existing models of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and explored the intersections of human rights and business ethics. The conference highlighted the positive and negative effects of businesses on human rights in the global landscape. The scholars, activists and policymakers invited to speak at the conference included Arvind Ganesan, director of Human Rights Watch's Business and Human Rights Division, and Amol Mehra, director of the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable. Delegates collaborated and extended current analysis and dialogue to examine possible solutions. Many popular companies market themselves as fair employers or environmentally responsible, but how truthful are those claims? Moving forward, how can we live lives that promote the kind of corporate consciousness that communities impacted by businesses need?
Human Rights in the Digital Age
This year’s conference explored the evolution of human rights in the context of the digital age and its rapidly changing technologies. Panelists and speakers focused on topics including the Internet as a human right and the issues surrounding access to information, the immense potential and limitations of technology in addressing global human rights issues, national security concerns associated with drones and other information gathering technologies, and the future of social media liberation technology and digital dissidence. Keynote addresses were delivered by National Magazine Award for Reporting Winner James Bamford and cybersecurity expert P. W. Singer.
Environment and Human Rights: Sustainable Development and Environmental Accountability
NUCHR's 2014 conference focused on climate change, sustainable development, environmental accountability, and the relationship between our environment and human rights. Conference attendees examined the effect of environmental abuses and climate change on vulnerable communities, particularly with regards to issues of water, land, and food accessibility and distribution.
Human Rights and International Peacekeeping: From Military Intervention to Local Anti-Violence Efforts
Participants explored the political, economic, and social forces behind international peacekeeping in order to understand the complexities underlying global and local efforts to build and to sustain peace in areas of conflict. Participants also went on an experiential learning trip to Cure Violence, a local organization working to end violence in Chicago. Speakers included Arthur Boutellis, Senior Policy Analyst at the International Peace Institute in New York, and Tom Oliver, founder and CEO of the World Peace Festival and World Peace Partnership.
From Famine to Food Deserts: Human Rights and the Global Food Crisis
Conference attendees explored the systemic causes behind hunger and famine worldwide in addition to the intersection of domestic food practices with international food issues. Attendees also learned about the topic through an experiential learning trip into Chicago, interacting with community organizers and food rights activists. Speakers included Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America, and Roger Thurow, author of “Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty” and "The Last Hunger Season."