ECLA of Bard Hosts International Human Rights Workshop

From March 7 – 10 ECLA of Bard hosted a group of 24 international human rights experts from Bard’s network of Human Rights Programs.

The workshop brought together faculty members from Bard’s Annandale campus, the Human Rights Program and Gagarin Center for Human Rights at Smolny College in St. Petersburg, the Human Rights Program at al-Quds/Bard, the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, the International Human Rights Exchange at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, as well as from the Central European University in Budapest and the European Humanities University in Vilnius.

Over the three days, participants discussed their approaches to teaching human rights, at times under difficult or dangerous conditions. Faculty members presented their current research and discussed their own civic engagement—ranging from work monitoring norm emergence in the UN around freedom of expression issues and ensuring the implementation of constitutional rights in Kyrgyzstan to research on the reality of economic rights in Zimbabwe, the question of how corporations can be held responsible for human rights violations, the shape of grassroots activism in Nepal, and the role of photojournalism in advocacy campaigns. Breakout groups focused on practical aspects of a human rights curriculum, as well as on professional and volunteer opportunities for students. Concrete outcomes of the workshop include the development of a virtual platform linking events and research activities at the different network institutions and an on-line syllabus database to serve as a resource for the development of new courses.

Other workshop highlights included a discussion with Anselm Franke, Head of the Visual Arts Department at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt, and a guided tour of the Topografie of Terror led by Sebastian Gerhardt, Co-Director of the Stiftung Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte (House of Democracy and Human Rights Foundation).

The workshop was sponsored by Bard's Center for Civic Engagement and was coordinated by Kerry Bystrom, Bard Faculty Representative to ECLA of Bard & Associate Professor of English and Human Rights, Bard College, and Professor Thomas Keenan, Director of the Human Rights Project at Bard Annandale.