Skip to main content

About Us

To lead the global human rights community in the search for transformative solutions to systemic patterns of injustice that will affect real change in the lives of the poor and the persecuted.

Building on the legacy of the university’s innovative Human Rights Studies program, the Human Rights Center advances the University of Dayton’s mission to promote respect for the inherent dignity of all persons through dialogue, research and education.

As we continue conversations at the center of a global, dynamic research and advocacy community, we have set in motion programs and projects with diverse partners to deepen our vital commitment to advancing the theory and practice of human rights advocacy through education, research, and dialogue. In dialogue with the Catholic social justice tradition:

  • We promote communication and collaboration between human rights researchers and advocates.
  • We conduct critical research to advance the theory and practice of transformative human rights advocacy.
  • We prepare human rights researchers of the future with the knowledge, skills and values to effect real change in the lives of the poor and the persecuted.
  • We partner with human rights nongovernmental organizations, learn from them and provide them with the analytical support to strengthen their capacity to respond to existing and emerging threats to human dignity.

Since 1997, we have held global conferences on emerging human rights and humanitarian issues. These events not only facilitate dialogue, they are making a direct impact on human rights issues.

After we created the first undergraduate human rights studies program in the nation in 1998, our 1999 conference, “Education for Action,” fostered dialogue with other universities who then established their own programs.

In 2000, the Human Rights Committee at the University of Dayton established the Romero Human Rights Award. The first recipient was Juan Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture for his work with the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights.

The 2001 conference, “A Question of Conscience”, led directly to the publication of a book: Children’s Human Rights.

The 2003 conference, “Bring Durban to Dayton” focused on racism and xenophobia. The result was the creation of the Welcome Dayton Plan - the area’s immigrant-friendly city initiative.

The 2008 Campaign to Ban Torture: American Voices for American Values, in partnership with The Center for Victims of Torture, led to University of Dayton President Daniel J. Curran becoming the first Catholic university president to sign the petition calling for an executive order to ban torture. In 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13491 — Ensuring Lawful Interrogations.

The 2009 conference, “Trafficking is Slavery”, led to the New Abolitionist Movement on campus, a student organization actively combating human trafficking and raising awareness through community presentations, lobbying efforts and victim assistance.

In 2010, we hosted a meeting of the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking. This led to the creation of Abolition Ohio - a dynamic, regional anti-trafficking coalition that championed the passage of a bill making trafficking a crime in Ohio. The bill was signed into law in December 2010.

In 2013, we hosted the inaugural Social Practice of Human Rights Conference that focused on the dramatic changes impacting the global human rights movement, the emergence of dynamic new NGOs in the global south that are resetting the human rights agenda, the importance of aligning human rights advocacy with popular movements, and the impact of U.S. policies on human dignity and rights at home and around the world.

In 2013, Dr. Daniel J. Curran, 18th president of University of Dayton, announced the university’s commitment to establish a human rights center.

Human Rights 09.05.18

Shelley Inglis, executive director of the Human Rights Center, spoke on WVXU 91.7 on the work of the Center as well as her career at the United Nations. Joining her was Joel Pruce, project lead of the Moral Courage Project, and Ben McCall, executive director of the Hanley Sustainability Institute.

Read more

Human Rights Center

Keller Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 2790
Meet us