Embrey Human Rights Program

For the Record: Sept. 7, 2012

Versatile Link logoAnnie Xiang, Physics, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, has received the U.S. Department of Energy Generic R&D award, a 3-year program (2012 to 2015) with a total funding of $202,500 to develop small-form-factor, high-reliability optical transmitters at the 120 Gbps range for high-bandwidth data transmission in future particle physics experiments. At SMU, she also leads the Versatile Link project, a collaboration with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Oxford University, funded through U.S. ATLAS.

SMU’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention has received the 2012 TIPS Award of Excellence for its anti-alcohol abuse training program. The award is presented by Health Communications, Inc., the providers of the Training for Intervention ProcedureS (TIPS) Program. SMU began implementing TIPS in early 2007 to train students in how to make sound choices when faced with challenging decisions regarding alcohol use. The Award of Excellence winner is chosen based on both volume of students certified and feedback from TIPS Trainers and student participants.

Brian Zoltowski, Chemistry, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, has received a $250,000 grant from the Herman Frasch Foundation for Chemical Research for his research focusing on the photoreceptor protein, one of the many proteins involved in an organism’s circadian clock. The photoreceptor protein enables plants to know when the spring and fall occur and to produce flowers or fruit at the appropriate time of year. The Frasch Foundation awards grants to nonprofit incorporated institutions to support research in the field of agricultural chemistry that will be of practical benefit to U.S. agricultural development. Grants are awarded for a period of five years, subject to annual review and approval on evidence of satisfactory progress.

Rick Halperin, Embrey Human Rights Program, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, has written the foreword to Echoes of the Lost Boys of Sudan, a graphic novel by James Disco about the Sudanese genocide and an international incident in which more than 20,000 children – mostly boys – ranging in age from 7 to 17 were displaced or orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005). Read more from the Huffington Post. (Right, an image from the book.)

Lori Ann Stephens, English, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, has written The Lingerer – a libretto based on the story The Sweeper of Dreams by Neil Gaiman – which has been chosen as a finalist in the 2012 English National Opera Minioperas competition. More than 500 librettos were entered, and 10 were selected as finalists; Stephens is the only finalist from the USA. During the next two phases of the competition, composers create music based on one of the 10 librettos, and filmmakers create videos to accompany them. Stephens has been invited to London for the final presentations in October. Listen to the music written for Stephens’ libretto by composer Julian Chou-Lambert. audio

Louis Jacobs, Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, has been named the winner of the 2012 Skoog Cup presented by the Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT) as part of its STAT Awards program. The Skoog Cup is awarded to a faculty or staff member at a Texas college or university who “has demonstrated significant contributions and leadership in the development of quality science education.” Jacobs and the other STAT Award winners will be honored at the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST) Nov. 8-10 in Corpus Christi.

Michael Corris, Art, Meadows School of the Arts, has been named reviews editor of the Art Journal, a publication of the College Art Association (CAA). CAA states its mission as “[promoting] the visual arts and their understanding through committed practice and intellectual engagement.”

Bezalel (Ben) Gavish, Information Technology and Operations Management, Cox School of Business, has been elected a Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). Only 12 members of the Institute were elected Fellows in 2012. They will be honored on Oct. 15 at the 2012 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Phoenix.

Ed Biehl, Chemistry, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, has received the 2012 Kametani Award for achievements in the field of heterocyclic chemistry. The $3,000 award was created in 1999 and is presented annually in memory of the founder of Heterocycles, the official journal of The Japan Institute of Heterocyclic Chemistry. The award is sponsored by the Institute and the journal’s publisher, Elsevier.

Anita Ingram, Risk Management, has been voted 2012-13 president-elect of the University Risk Management and Insurance Association (URMIA). She and the other new URMIA officers will be inducted Oct. 2 at the organization’s 43rd Annual Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. URMIA is an international nonprofit educational association promoting “the advancement and application of effective risk management principles and practices in institutions of higher education.” It represents more than 545 institutions of higher education and 100 companies.

Understanding Rwanda: Memories from a human rights trip

Vicki Hill with Felix and Peter of Les Enfants de Dieu, Rwanda.

In August 2012, a group of 20 SMU students, faculty and staff members visited Rwanda with the University’s Embrey Human Rights Program.

The group went to observe how the African country is recovering from its 1994 civil war, in which up to a million people were killed in 100 days.

They also shared 200 pounds of school supplies donated by the SMU community and 7 boxes of books given by Dallas-based Half Price Books, as well as medical supplies donated in part by Denver-based service group Project C.U.R.E.

One traveler was Vicki Hill, SMU’s assistant dean for the University Curriculum. Hill shared her insights in an SMU Adventures blog that documented the trip and her struggle with what she learned.

“I saw what I hope is the most horrible thing I will ever see in my entire life, and I experienced moments of pure joy and affirmation,” Hill wrote.

> Read more from Vicki Hill and other Rwanda travelers at SMU Adventures

SMU Rwanda travelers seek school supplies for August 2012 trip

UPDATE Aug. 2, 2012: Thanks to donations from the SMU community and friends, the Embrey Human Rights Program travelers will leave for Rwanda tomorrow with 12 suitcases filled with 200 pounds of school supplies and 250 pounds of books (from Half-Price Books) to share with children at the Urukundo Home for Children.

Former SMU student (now alumna) Astrud Villareal helps with a construction project at the Urukundo Home for Children during a Embrey Human Rights Program trip to Rwanda in 2009. Photo by Sherry Aikman.

Twenty SMU students and staffers will be in Rwanda Aug. 3-13, 2012, on a two-fold mission: Not only to see how the African country is recovering from its 1994 civil war — in which up to a million people were killed in 100 days — but also to share educational and medical supplies with Rwandan youth.

The Embrey Human Rights Program travel group is still seeking such school supplies as pencils and pens, slim notebooks, small tape dispensers, slim packages of paper, and “anything portable,” says program coordinator Sherry Aikman.

Donated items will be accepted at 109 Clements Hall until Wednesday, Aug. 1.

The travel group will take extra suitcases loaded with school supplies as well as seven boxes of books for children and young adults given to them by Half Price Books. They also will have medical supplies donated in part by Project C.U.R.E., a Denver-based service group for which SMU student Hayley Wagner is a summer intern.

Wagner, who recently traveled to Rwanda on the Student Leadership Initiative trip led by Embrey Human Rights Program Associate Director Pat Davis, helped the Embrey program purchase $2,000 worth of medical supplies for $200. The kits will be given to the Urukundo Home for Children.

This is the third year the Embrey Human Rights Program has sponsored the Rwanda trip, which will have the group visiting schools, orphanages and genocide sites to meet with survivors.

“We’ll be interacting not only with the issues of genocide, which are so visually present throughout the country, but also with the people and organizations working for a better Rwanda,” says Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin, who is leading the trip.

For more information visit smu.edu/humanrights or call Aikman at 214-768-8347.

— Denise Gee

Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee to speak at SMU May 23, 2012

2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee

Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner. Photo credit: Michael Angelo for Wonderland.

Liberian peace activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee will make one of her few scheduled 2012 U.S. speaking appearances at SMU on Wednesday, May 23. The author of Mighty Be Our Powers will discuss “Women, Leadership and Human Rights” at 7:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater.

On the day of her SMU appearance, Gbowee will be a guest on KERA Radio’s “Think” during the 1-2 p.m. hour. Listen live at kera.org/listen. audio

Gbowee’s visit to the Hilltop presents a rare opportunity to hear her discuss her role in helping end Liberia’s second civil war, as well as her advice on how women can bring about change in seemingly hopeless situations.

> Newsweek: A Dictator, Vanquished (4/29/2012)

Gbowee began pushing for change as a trauma and rehabilitation volunteer during Liberia’s second civil war. Lasting from 1989 to 2003, the war was sparked by deep-seated anger over economic inequality, natural resources abuse and vicious rivalries between ethnic groups that included descendants of the freed American slaves who founded Liberia in 1847.

At the conflict’s center was Charles Taylor, the notorious warlord who served as Liberian president until being forced into exile in 2003, thanks in large part to Gbowee’s leadership efforts. Last month, a U.N.-backed tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, convicted Taylor of 11 counts of war crimes – including acts of terrorism, murder and rape – for arming and aiding Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front in a terror campaign in Sierra Leone and Liberia that claimed 120,000 lives from 1991-2001. It was the world court’s first judgment against a former head of state since the World War II Nuremberg trials. Sentencing for Taylor, who has pleaded innocent, is scheduled for May 30.

> National Public Radio: War crimes judges hear Charles Taylor’s sentencing pleas (5/16/2012)

“Leymah represents a new movement of women in the world starting – and achieving – grassroots movements for peace, justice and human rights,” says Embrey Human Rights Program Associate Director Pat Davis. “In acts that were selfless and courageous in the face of terrible brutality, she led a group of women to help throw out a dictator [Taylor] and elect the first female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is weeding out corruption herself.”

Tickets are $10 for students, $25 for WAC members and $35 for non-members. The lecture is presented by the World Affairs Council (WAC) of Dallas/Fort Worth in partnership with SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, the Embrey Family Foundation, the Boone Family Foundation, Donna Wilhelm and Trea Yip.

For more information, call 214-965-8412 or visit dfwworld.org.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

Experts link murdered women and environmental ruin at the border

The Rev. Daisy L. MachadoThe ongoing murders of countless women at the U.S.-Mexico border, along with devastating environmental damage inflicted by factories, are the subject of “Ecocide and Femicide on the Border: Ecofeminism and the Maquiladora Murders.” The event will take place 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 26, in 121 Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall.

Guest speakers are the Rev. Daisy L. Machado (pictured right), dean of academic affairs and professor of church history at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and Evelyn Parker, associate professor of practical theology at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology.

This is the final event in SMU’s seven-part 2012 “Migration Matters” series addressing the most pressing U.S./Mexico-border challenges.

Ecofeminists, inspired by theologian and nun Ivone Gebara of Brazil, have called Christians to think about the connections between poverty, violence to both the Earth and humans, and immigration. It is estimated that more than 400 female maquiladora (export assembly plant) workers have been murdered in Ciudad Juárez alone since 1993.

“This desert area, filled with toxic air and water produced by the maquiladoras, and the people who live there — poor and uneducated workers, mostly women — are devalued by a patriarchal society and commodified until they become expendable and invisible,” Machado says.

“This concerns me because these realities remain unresolved,” she adds. “So I ask the Christian community: Why are we not responding? And how can we advocate social, ecological and gender justice?”

Parker is looking forward to her conversation with Machado, with whom she has collaborated in the past. But this powerful subject, she says, “will take on new complexities — and possibilities.”

The program is supported by SMU’s Office of the Dean of Dedman College; the Geurin-Pettus Program; the Scott-Hawkins Fund; the Embrey Human Rights Program; the Department of English; the George and Mary Foster Distinguished Lecture in Cultural Anthropology; and the Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions in Perkins School of Theology, with funding from The Henry Luce Foundation.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, contact series coordinator Jayson Sae-Saue, Department of English, 214-768-4369.

Written by Denise Gee

> Learn more about the 2012 “Migration Matters” series from SMU News

Conference to explore human rights issues in Africa April 11-15

African Literature Association logoThe African Literature Association will meet April 11-15, 2012, at SMU and Dallas’s Adolphus Hotel to explore human rights issues in Africa.

The association’s 38th annual meeting will feature 10 writers, journalists and performers from various countries in Africa and is expected to draw more than 400 participants from all over the world, including Japan, Australia, Great Britain, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and various African countries.

Participants will explore the theme of human rights in current African art, literature and the visual arts, as well as in the areas of health and political freedom.

Campus events, which are free and open to the public, include the following:

  • A special screening of the film Quartier Mozart will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, April 13, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. Based on African folklore, it tells the story of a mischievous young girl who wants to know what it’s like to be a boy and has her wish granted by a witch. The film was shown at Cannes, and went on to critical acclaim, winning awards at FESPACO, the Montréal Film Festival, and the Locarno Film Festival, and receiving a nomination for a British Film and Television Award. Jean-Pierre Bekolo, the film’s director, will be on hand to answer questions.
  • Ghanaian playwright Ama Ata AidooThe 70th birthday of award-winning Ghanaian writer and playwright Ama Ata Aidoo (pictured right) will be celebrated with a staged reading from her two plays at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. The readings are being organized in cooperation with the SMU Theatre program and adapted by Professor Gretchen Smith, head of theatre studies in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.The readings will be followed by the launching of her newest book of short stories, Diplomatic Pounds and Other Stories, as well as the launch of a festschrift in her honor, Essays in Honour of Ama Ata Aidoo at 70. Works by Aidoo, former Education Minister of Ghana, often depict the role of the African woman in modern society. Her acclaimed prose works include No Sweetness Here (1970), a collection of short stories; the semi-autobiographical novel Our Sister Killjoy (1979); and Changes: A Love Story (1991), which won the 1993 Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Africa region. Aidoo has noted that the idea of nationalism has been used by new leaders as a tool to keep people oppressed, according to her biography. One of the most respected and prolific writers from the African continent, her central issues are the legacy of the slave trade, the impact of neo-colonialism on the educated Ghanaian elite, and the notion of exile and African diasporic identity.

Participating SMU faculty members and conference supporters include Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, the Department of World Languages and LiteraturesDepartment of English, the Embrey Human Rights Program, the Scott-Hawkins Lecture Series, and the Honors Program.

> Find more information, including a detailed schedule, at the Dedman College website

 

Panel examines ‘Seeking Justice in the Face of Hate’ April 5, 2012

How long does a person or community have to wait for justice? A state legislator – representing an Allen family that believes their son’s 2009 stabbing death was a miscarriage of justice – will join four others with uniquely compelling perspectives on crimes involving hate and what Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, describes as “legal systems that have let us down.”

The panel discussion, “Seeking Justice in the Face of Hate,” will take place 7-9 p.m. in SMU’s McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, the Embrey Family Foundation and Project X: TheatreDanceMusicFilm.

Featured panelists include:

  • Acclaimed playwright Erik Ehn of Brown University, whose work addresses violence, genocide and faith — and whose play Diamond Dick, about the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, opens in Dallas April 13. A musical preview will be presented during the panel event.
  • Rep. Lon Burnam, who will highlight the legal issues surrounding a local Muslim family seeking justice for the murder of their son.
  • Cece Cox, executive director & CEO of Resource Center Dallas, one of North Texas’ primary LGBT and HIV/AIDS service organizations.
  • Detective Terry Trail of the SMU Police Department, who will talk about hate groups in America and how they use the Internet.
  • Hate-crime survivor and World Without Hate peace activist Rais Bhuiyan.

For more details, visit smu.edu/humanrights or call 214-768-8347.

Above, Rais Bhuiyan talks about his experiences as a hate-crime survivor in an SMU-TV story by student journalist Bridget Bennett dated Sept. 12, 2011. Click the Vimeo screen to watch, or click this link to watch the Rais Bhuiyan interview in a new windowvideo

Written by Denise Gee

Sunbelt prisons are focus of 2012 Clements Center Symposium

Logo image for 2011-12 Clements Center SymposiumDeclaring that today’s racially disproportionate rates of incarceration represent “a New Jim Crow,” scholar Michelle Alexander has argued that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” This assertion, and its exploration, provide the theme of the 2011-12 Annual Public Symposium presented by SMU’s William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

“Sunbelt Prisons and the Carceral State: New Frontiers of State Power, Resistance and Racial Oppression” is cosponsored by the Clements Center, SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program and The Center for the American West at the University of Colorado. It will take place 8:15 a.m.-5 p.m. March 24 in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

The event brings together historians, legal experts, civil rights veterans and formerly imprisoned activists to discuss “The Age of Mass Incarceration” in the American Southwest. The international slate of presenters and panelists includes U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson ’76 and 2010 Clements Book Prize winner Kelly Lytle Hernández.

The symposium is open to the public and has been approved for Continuing Education Credit for teachers.

The $10 registration includes the conference fee, refreshment breaks and a light buffet lunch. Read more about how to register or contact the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, 214-768-3684.

Find a complete schedule at the Clements Center Annual Symposium homepage

Living the dream: SMU celebrates MLK Day 2012 all week

SMU Celebrates Dream WeekSMU celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with Dream Week 2012 Jan. 16-19. Sponsored by the University’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the annual observance features a variety of activities throughout the week, including opportunities for community service and a commemorative walk.

This year’s schedule includes the traditional Day of Service Monday, Jan. 16, with volunteer projects taking place at Children’s Medical Center, Dallas LIFE and the Genesis Women’s Shelter Thrift Store.

The Dream Week kickoff event is scheduled for noon-2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Commons. Featured speakers are Dennis Simon, Political Science, and Rick Halperin, Human Rights Education.

The University’s annual Unity Walk will take place at noon Wednesday, Jan. 18, starting at the Main Quad flagpole. SMU President R. Gerald Turner will offer remarks. That evening at 7:30 p.m., the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives will present a screening of Standing on My Sisters’ Shoulders in the Hughes-Trigg Forum. The award-winning documentary examines the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi in the 1950s and ’60s from the point of view of the women who lived it and helped lead it.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, the Willson Lecture Series of SMU’s Office of the Chaplain presents Daniel White Hodge speaking on “The Hostile Gospel: Seeking the Theological Sensibilities Within Hip-Hop Culture.” The lecture takes place in the Hughes-Trigg Forum followed by a brown-bag discussion at 11:30 a.m. in Hughes-Trigg Promenades A and B.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at SMU, March 17, 1966This week, SMU also recalls Dr. King’s speech to a standing-room-only crowd in McFarlin Auditorium on March 17, 1966. SMU News offers these related links:

> More information from SMU News

Law, human rights programs earn 2011 ‘Angel of Freedom’ awards

Shown representing SMU at the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas’ 2011 'Angel of Freedom' awards dinner in Dallas Nov. 7 are, from left, Bill Tsutsui, dean of Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences; Rebecca Greenan, director of the Dedman School of Law’s Public Service Program; professor Jeffrey Kahn, who supervises public service externships at Dedman School of Law; and Rick Halperin, director of the Embrey Human Rights Program in Dedman College.SMU’s Dedman School of Law and Embrey Human Rights Program received 2011 “Angel of Freedom” awards from the Human Rights Initiative (HRI) of North Texas.

As HRI’s highest honor for people or groups committed to helping victims of human rights abuses, the awards were given during a “Thanksgiving dinner” at HRI’s headquarters near downtown Dallas Nov. 7.

HRI provides legal services to people who have suffered human rights abuses. Their clients range from people seeking asylum in the U.S. to victims of human trafficking.

The Dedman School of Law “has a long and rich history” of helping HRI since the service organization’s start in 1999, says Rebecca Garza Greenan, director of the law school’s Public Service Program. Since 1992, after a law faculty-sponsored resolution, SMU’s law students have been required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of uncompensated and not-for-credit public service.

Since 1997, SMU Dedman School of Law students have assisted HRI attorneys in their representation of clients through public service as well as paid summer internships and academic externships, currently overseen by law professor Jeffrey Kahn.

“SMU law students have had the opportunity to assist HRI attorneys in representing clients from around the world, allowing them to learn the importance of, and the fulfillment from, championing human rights one client at a time,” Greenan says. “The students are enriched and the community is helped.”

“We are proud to both support the work of HRI and to provide students to support the work and mission of HRI,” says Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin. “It is imperative that our students get involved in human rights work here in Dallas because human rights work truly begins at home.”

(Above, representing SMU at the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas’ 2011 Angel of Freedom awards dinner are, from left, Bill Tsutsui, Dedman College dean; Rebecca Greenan, director of the Dedman School of Law’s Public Service Program; Professor Jeffrey Kahn, who supervises public service externships in Dedman Law; and Rick Halperin, director of the Embrey Human Rights Program in Dedman College.)

> Read more about the 2011 Angel of Freedom awards from SMU News

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