After tragic week, community leaders take ‘Unified Steps Forward’ at ‘Human Rights Dallas’ summit

SMU NEWS

Originally Posted: July 14, 2016

By Denise Gee

DALLAS (SMU) – It had been planned months in advance, but when hundreds of city and county leaders gathered at SMU July 9 for the first “Human Rights Dallas” summit, the city was openly grieving the July 7 murders of five police officers in downtown Dallas after what had been a peaceful protest march. That march was in response to controversial police shootings of two African American men in Louisiana and Minnesota – incidents that had produced anger, anxiety and grief.

In taking “unified steps forward,” Embrey Human Rights Program (EHRP) Director Rick Halperin emphasized his event’s goal would not be “to focus on your work, or my work, but our work – to ensure everyone is afforded human dignity, protection and advocacy of their inherent rights.”

What resonated most for “Human Rights Dallas” participant Toya Walker, a senior-level paralegal for SMU and the Sabre Corporation, “was getting to openly share thoughts on what a human rights culture could look like, and how we, as a diverse group, could make it a reality.”

During larger group discussions and smaller breakout sessions guided by innovative coaching from Journeyman Ink, attendees tackled issues and solutions related to concerns ranging from human trafficking crimes to racial, sexual and religious discrimination.

Leaders from business, law enforcement, education, faith, non-profit and other groups expressed overwhelming support “for an official referendum to establish human rights as a top-level concern for Dallas government leaders,” said EHRP Assistant Director Brad Klein. “We also would like to see a public forum for citizens to regularly address their concerns with people who actually can do something about them.”

Summit participants vowed to continue the dialogue by staying connected via social media outlets and creating educational opportunities that could start with initiatives as small as a neighborhood gatherings for coffee and conversation.

The ultimate question, met with resounding applause, was posed by Tri-Cities NAACP Director Carmelita Pope-Freeman, who summarized the feelings of those at her table: “How can we replace fear with empathy?”

While the timing of the long-planned “Human Rights Dallas” event came on the heels of tragic circumstances, Walker said, “I believe it awakened the soul of Dallas and America to know human rights matter.”  Leaving the event motivated and inspired, she added, “I believe we have an opportunity to truly enable the change the world so desperately needs.”

Progress on “Human Rights Dallas” efforts will be shared via future EHRP communications and also at its “Triumph of the Spirit” Awards event Nov. 16 at the Kessler Theater in Dallas. The celebration will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the program at SMU — only the seventh university in the nation to offer an undergraduate degree in human rights and also a master’s level degree in human rights and social justice. READ MORE

For more details about the Embrey Human Rights Program within SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, contact humanrights@smu.edu, 214-768-8347 or visit.

First ‘Human Rights Dallas’ summit set for July 9

SMU News

Originally Posted: July 7, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – Texas may lead the nation in job creation and exported goods, but in human rights rankings, it holds these five dubious distinctions:

  • Texas has the largest number of hate groups espousing racist, xenophobic and anti-LGBT sentiments. (Conversely, it’s home to the nation’s largest number of resettled refugees/asylum seekers, mostly from Myanmar, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.)
  • Texas ranks second in the nation for human trafficking crime, which is on the rise.
  • Texas leads the U.S. in the number of people exonerated by wrongful convictions while
    also leading in the number of state-sanctioned executions.
  • Texas ranks high in the number of children who die from abuse and neglect – and is the
    No. 1 state for hot car-related fatalities involving children and infants.
  • Texas is home to the nation’s largest number of people without health insurance.

Alarmed by such statistics, some 300 Dallas-Fort Worth community leaders are expected to gather at SMU Saturday, July 9, for “Human Rights Dallas”– the first-ever summit focused on highlighting and resolving Dallas’ most pressing human rights issues. The summit is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in SMU’s Martha Proctor Mack Ballroom in Umphrey Lee Center, 3300 Dyer St.

“The goal of ‘Human Rights Dallas’ is to create a culture for people in for-profit and non-profit fields to not only get involved in issues they care about, but also to form a coalition dedicated to ensuring all people’s rights are protected,” says Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, the event’s sponsor.

The attendee roster reflects leaders in regional business, faith, health and education organizations as well as groups working to combat human trafficking; prevent racial, religious and sexual-orientation discrimination; strengthen immigration and refugee rights; and tackle the surging numbers of the mass-incarcerated and homeless.

Texas’ large number of hate groups is of particular concern to Mary Pat Higgins, president and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance.

“Currently there are 84 active hate groups in the state, 56 of which are Neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan groups – 11 of them in North Texas,” Higgins says. “As the country faces this dramatic incline, there’s no better time to come together to promote human rights in our community.”

Paralegal Toya Walker hopes the event accomplishes three goals: “Awareness, education and action to get people motivated, inspired and involved,” says Walker, who provides counsel on compliance/employment issues for SMU and the Sabre Corporation.

The ideal end-result? “Transformation and healing,” says Jill VanGorden, director of education for the Crow Collection of Asian Art.

For more details about “Human Rights Dallas” or the Embrey Human Rights Program in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, contact humanrights@smu.edu.

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2016-2017 Dallas-Fort Worth Schweitzer Fellows Named

DFW Schweitzer Fellows will launch health and wellbeing initiatives within underserved communities while completing leadership training

Dallas, TX, June 23, 2016—The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) announced the selection of its second class of Dallas-Fort Worth Albert Schweitzer Fellows—9 graduate students who will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health, and developing lifelong leadership skills. In doing so, they will follow the example set by famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, for whom their Fellowship is named.

Schweitzer Fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities, while also fulfilling their academic responsibilities. Each project is implemented in collaboration with a community-based health and/or social service organization. This year’s Fellows will address an array of health issues affecting a range of populations, including a college and career readiness program, an expansion of a smoking cessation program for men experiencing homelessness, and a volunteer doula program for low-income women.

Housed in Southern Methodist University’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, the Schweitzer Fellowship draws on an interdisciplinary approach to guide the Fellows throughout the year. Monthly meetings feature speakers from a range of fields, including several Dedman College faculty members. Renee McDonald, Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs, guided the Fellows through evaluation strategies and program planning, allowing them to begin their projects with a more rigorous approach to assessing their effectiveness. Dr. McDonald will meet with the Fellows periodically to help them refine their evaluation plans and interpret their data.

Neely Myers, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, led a discussion and exploration of the social determinants of health with the group at another meeting. Dr. Myers’ discussion spurred critical thinking about the issues that the Fellows will address through their projects and laid the groundwork for future explorations of the many aspects of health.

Dr. Rick Halperin, Dr. Carolyn Smith-Morris, and Dr. Alicia Schortgen have also lectured and facilitated discussions with Schweitzer Fellows on topics ranging from human rights, ethics and medicine, and how organizations work within Dallas to address the issues facing our community.

“The Schweitzer Fellowship changes the lives of not just the Fellows themselves, but also the lives of the community members they serve through their Fellowship projects,” said Courtney Roy, Program Director of the Dallas-Fort Worth Schweitzer Fellowship. “Our Fellows will learn to lead and innovate as they take on complex issues, and will also have the opportunity to learn from one another, sharing their strengths and knowledge, preparing them for professional careers in an ever-changing world. Meanwhile, their project participants will gain information, skills, and behaviors that will assist them in leading healthier lives.”

“These Schweitzer Fellows are living Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s legacy of reverence for life,” said Executive Director Sylvia Stevens-Edouard. “Their Fellowship year will leave them well-prepared to successfully face the challenges of serving vulnerable and underserved populations, whose health and medical needs are many and varied.”

The 9 Dallas-Fort Worth Fellows will join over 200 other 2016-17 Schweitzer Fellows working at 15 program sites, 14 in the US and one in Lambaréné, Gabon at the site of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital, founded by Dr. Schweitzer in 1913. Upon completion of their Fellowship year, the 2016-17 Dallas-Fort Worth Albert Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of nearly 3,000 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers. Fellows for Life routinely report that ASF is integral to sustaining their commitment to serving people in need.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Albert Schweitzer Fellows Program marks a unique collaboration between eight Dallas-Fort Worth universities. Housed in Southern Methodist University (Dedman College), supporting universities include the Baylor University’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing, Texas Christian University, Texas Woman’s University, University of Dallas, University of Texas at Arlington, and the University of Texas at Southwestern Medical Center.

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Meet the 2016-2017 Dallas-Fort Worth Albert Schweitzer Fellows

About The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) is preparing the next generation of professionals who will serve and empower vulnerable people to live healthier lives and create healthier communities. To date, more than 3,200 Schweitzer Fellows have delivered nearly 500,000 hours of service to nearly 300,000 people in need.  Additionally, more than 100 Fellows have provided care at the 100-year-old Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, Africa. Through this work and through the contributions of Fellows whose professional careers serve their communities, ASF perpetuates the legacy and philosophy of physician-humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer. ASF has 14 program locations in the U.S. and one in Lambaréné, Africa. Its national office is located in Boston, MA and hosted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program Partners up for Peace Day Dallas 2016

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: June 22, 2016

Peace Day Dallas 2016 will be bigger and better than ever, organizers announced at a kickoff event Wednesday at Dallas City Hall. The celebration will be from Sept. 16-21 and include events across the city.

Several partners have already stepped up, including Dallas City Hall, the Dallas Holocaust Museum, Jesuit College Preparatory School, SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, Peace is Possible, the Zain Foundation and 29 Pieces.

Council member Adam McGough and wife Lacy will serve as chairs.

Mayor Mike Rawlings spoke at the kickoff before he signed a Respect Pledge.

“The spirit of the pledge is exactly what we need,” Rawlings said. “This will help with the terrible scourges in the United States and in our own backyard.”

He praised Karen Blessen of 29 Pieces for her involvement. Blessen introduced students who held round “Respect” posters that will be placed throughout the city as part of the celebration. Blessen also covered Dallas in “Love” posters during the city’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination.

To learn more, visit peacedaydallas.com.

Incoming SMU students examine tough questions in their first college reading assignment — Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy

Each year the Common Reading book is selected by the Common Reading Selection Committee. Chaired by David Doyle, Director of SMU’s University Honors Program. READ MORE

SMU News
Originally Posted: May 31, 2016

just-mercy-book-jacket

Incoming SMU students will examine tough questions about justice, equality and poverty in their first college reading assignment — attorney Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy (Random House, 2014).

Students will read the book as part of the University’s Common Reading Program, an academic initiative that includes small-group discussions about the book before and after classes begin. Community members, alumni, book lovers and book clubs are invited to join SMUReads to take part in other smu.edu/smureads events surrounding the book.

Author Stevenson’s free campus lecture is open to the public at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 13, at McFarlin Auditorium, 6405 Boaz Lane. Preregistration is requested at smu.edu/smureads. READ MORE

“This is a book not as much about apocalypse as it is about our human society, particularly the objects and technology we live with but take for granted on an every-day basis.  Also, the book enables readers to consider how art can create meaning and value in the most constrained of human circumstances.”
-Dr. Harold Stanley, Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost ad interim

Tower Center Forum: Populism in Europe and Germany

Event Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Location: Great Hall, Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall

Dr. Sergey Lagodinsky is currently Head of the EU/North America Department of the Heinrich Böll Foundation based in Berlin. He is an attorney and author, also working as consultant on strategy and leadership. Sergey’s areas of expertise include transatlantic relations, international and constitutional law as well law and politics of diversity and integration. He is a Member of the Assembly of Representatives of the Jewish Community of Berlin and was a founding chairman of the Jewish Working Group in the Social Democratic Party in Germany (SPD). He ran for the German Bundestag for the German Green Party in 2013.

Sergey is a regular guest and contributor to major German and international media outlets. He has appeared among others on Deutschlandfunk, DeutschlandradioKultur, the BBC World Service, Radio Liberty and various other radio stations. For many years he was a regular guest on Deutsche Welle TV and a political host and commentator on the global Russian channel RTVi. His commentaries have been published by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, ZEIT, Handelsblatt, taz and Tagesspiegel, among others. His recent book Contexts of Antisemitism (Metropol Publishing, 2014) explores the relationship between freedom of speech and protection against anti-Semitism in German and international law. Sergey holds a PhD degree in law from the Berlin’s Humboldt University, a law degree from the University of Göttingen and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University. From 2008-2009, he was a fellow with the stiftung neue verantwortung in Berlin and in 2010 – a Yale World Fellow in residence at Yale University in New Haven. READ MORE

The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required.

Annual Allman Lecture: Fear and Loathing – Political Neuro-Biology and the 2016 Elections

Jeff Fitlow
Jeff Fitlow

Location: McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall
Date: October 20, 2016
Time: 5:00 p.m. Reception, 5:30 p.m. Lecture

What can burrowing mice and African bonobos tells us about Donald & Ted & Hilary & Bernie? Aristotle famously observed that “man is by nature a political animal” and that “a social instinct is implanted in all men by nature”. A recent twin study concluded that roughly half of the variance in political ideology is attributable to genetic influences. Apparently Aristotle was correct. Join John Alford of Rice University as he delves into the deep ideological divisions that are shaping the 2016 elections.

Link for more information: http://www.smu.edu/dedman/dcii

 

Celebrating Dedman College Faculty Books

  • View a slideshow of the event photos here.
  • For more information on Dedman College faculty books, click here.

English professor establishes Kimbilio to provide networking, educational and professional advancement opportunities for emerging African-American writers.

Detroit News

Originally Posted: May 10, 2016

Author Desiree Cooper says newcomers to the annual Kimbilio Fiction retreat for African-American writers “talk like they’ve been on a lifeboat and they’re just trying to hold on until they can find that place that keeps them safe.”

David Haynes, a novelist and professor of English at Dallas’ Southern Methodist University, established Kimbilio in 2013 as a means of providing networking, educational and professional advancement opportunities for emerging African-American writers. The organization has since amassed a network of 60 fellows; held three writers’ retreats in Taos, New Mexico, and initiated a nationwide series of reading events featuring its fellows. Kimbilio’s next reading event will be Wednesday at Pages Bookshop, featuring fellows Cooper, Angela Flournoy and Cole Lavalais.

Haynes says the organization’s name was derived from a Swahili word meaning “safe haven.”

“For so many writers of color, traditional retreats or traditional M.F.A. programs or various other support networks have not always been welcoming and safe places,” Haynes says. “That’s been one of the real drivers behind creating spaces where we can grow and learn as a community, and really develop important and necessary mutual support networks.” READ MORE

Congratulations to Codey Marshall, Marine Corps veteran, father and soon-to-be SMU graduate

SMU News
Originally Posted: May 12, 2016

 

DALLAS (SMU) – When Codey Marshall was just a kid from Garland, he enjoyed watching the SMU football team vigorously chasing its opponents across the field at old Ownby Stadium.

He had no idea then the grand journey life held in store, or that it would return him to the Hilltop.

Three decades later, Marshall, 36, is preparing to enter another SMU athletic venue – Moody Coliseum, all decked out for spring commencement. He will be in a cap and gown, celebrating a hard-earned markets and culture degree and a life come full circle after a long, daring, and unconventional story.

“I’m a veteran of the Marine Corps and I’m a father,” says Marshall. He has three children now, and was only 22-years old when he deployed to Iraq in 2002. But he concedes that coming back to school made him nervous.

“You’re scared. You’re trying to figure it out. You wonder, ‘Can I still do this?’” But education was his therapy, Marshall says.

commencement2016-Codey-Marshall

“It was my reintegration to society. It gave me something and helped me along in my process. I had the most wonderful advisors and professors that anyone could ever ask for at Dedman College and that really made this as smooth a process as it could be.”

Marshal knows where he’s going next. The outgoing vice president of U.S. MilVets of SMU, Marshall recently accepted a position with Veterans Coalition of North Texas, a non-profit organization he described as a “gap-filler” that coordinates the region’s various veteran services to make sure no veteran is forgotten.

“I feel it is my job to give back wherever I can,” says Marshall, who will continue his SMU education in the Cox Executive MBA program this fall. “

Looking back on his time at SMU, he says, “It’s been insane – It’s been fun. But I love the fact that my children can see what I’m doing and appreciate what I’m doing. If you put the time in, it works.” READ MORE

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