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University of Dayton to Celebrate 20 Years of Human Rights Studies, 70 Years of U.N. Declaration

DAYTON, Ohio — The University of Dayton will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the University's human rights studies program and 70th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a pair of free, public events Thursday, Dec. 6, featuring a current U.S. State Department official and the editor-in-chief of top academic human rights journal Human Rights Quarterly.

A panel of UD human rights studies alumni will discuss "Human Rights Practice and Profession: From the Classroom to the Field" from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Panelists include Anamaria T. Karrels, a foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State; Kata Lucas, a researcher with the non-governmental organization Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, who focuses on topics of gender-sensitive transitional justice in post-conflict settings; labor attorney McLean Johnson; Laura Getz, a bilingual community support specialist for the Center for Work, Education and Employment; and Mike Schulz, executive director of Mission of Mary Cooperative.

"The University of Dayton has a rich history in human rights education, starting one of the nation's first undergraduate human rights program in 1998 and one of the nation's first bachelor's degrees in human rights studies in 2008," said Natalie Hudson, director of the University of Dayton's human rights studies program. "We're happy our alumni can help celebrate and offer advice to our future human rights practitioners."

Former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez and Bert Lockwood, distinguished professor of law and director of the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights at the University of Cincinnati, will be panelists discussing "Educating Future Generations in Human Rights During Challenging Times" from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

"For 70 years, the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been the guiding document for our field," said Shelley Inglis, executive director of the University of Dayton Human Rights Center who most recently spent 15 years with the United Nations. "We are fortunate to have such an esteemed panel who will offer our students a glimpse of what they'll face in their careers."

Both events, as well as a free, public reception between the events, also are supported by the Dayton Council on World Affairs and the Dayton International Peace Museum. They will be in the Auditorium at Daniel J. Curran Place located at 1700 S. Patterson Blvd. RSVP for the events at  

The University of Dayton human rights studies program and Human Rights Center have organized local, national and international conferences and developed partnerships to perform research and advocate for the rights of the vulnerable and exploited — children, women, migrants, refugees and trafficked persons.

Highlights include: 

  • In 2008, the human rights studies program and the Center for Victims of Torture organized an event to advocate for a presidential executive order on prisoner treatment, torture and cruelty. University of Dayton President Daniel J. Curran signed a declaration supporting the executive order, which President Obama signed in 2009.
  • Since 2013, the Social Practice of Human Rights conference has convened biennially, attracting an average of more than 100 experts from 15 countries who include current and former representatives from the United Nations, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the United States Human Rights Network, Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, Global Fund for Women, Doctors Without Borders, Ford Foundation, World Peace Foundation, USAID, and the NAACP, among others. The 2019 conference is set for Oct. 8-11, 2019.
  • In 2000, the University established the Romero Human Rights award, which commemorates the ministry and martyrdom of the slain Salvadoran Archbishop and honors an individual or organization whose work has contributed significantly to the alleviation of human suffering and injustice.
  • At the request of local and state law enforcement agencies and social service organizations, the human rights studies program took a leadership role in the creation of a regional anti-trafficking coalition — Abolition Ohio — currently supported by the Human Rights Center, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Campaign to Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking.
  • Human rights studies faculty and students were instrumental in advocating for enactment of Ohio Senate Bill 235, which made human trafficking a criminal offense in Ohio. Abolition Ohio also worked with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Human Trafficking Commission to provide Ohio schools, youth counselors, after-school programs and anti-human trafficking organizations with a free online manual for developing anti-human trafficking education for children.
  • The Center sponsors an applied research practicum in Malawi to train undergraduate students as future human rights advocates and professionals. Working closely with Determined to Develop, a grassroots NGO founded and directed by the alumnus Matt Maroon '06, students spend nine weeks living and conducting research with local community leaders in northern Malawi on a critical human rights or development issue.
  • The Human Rights Center partnered with PROOF: Media for Social Justice, an organization specializing in visual storytelling for human rights and peacebuilding, on Ferguson Voices, an oral history project capturing stories of people who participated in and were affected by the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of Michael Brown. The goal was to document people who, despite adversity and risk, "chose to activate their moral courage," according to Joel Pruce, assistant professor of human rights studies who oversaw the project for the University of Dayton Human Rights Center. Pruce also led a similar group to El Paso, Texas, this spring to examine immigration issues at the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • In 2016, the University received a fair trade university designation from national grassroots movement Fair Trade Campaigns. Fair Trade Campaigns recognizes towns, colleges, universities, schools and congregations nationwide for embedding fair trade practices and principles into policy. "Fair trade" refers to an economic system of equitable trading partnerships for farmers, artisans and workers. It is evidence to consumers that products they purchase were grown, harvested, crafted and traded in ways that improve lives and protect the environment. 

For more information about the University of Dayton Human Rights Center and human rights studies program, visit and

For more information or interviews, contact Shawn Robinson, University of Dayton associate director of news and communications, at 937-229-3391 or


News and Communications Staff