FACULTY SENATE


 Senate Document Number     3305S


 Date of Senate Approval      03/03/05  



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Statement of Faculty Senate Action:



IDC 7:                           Proposal to Establish a Human Rights Center at UNCA


1. Name:  

Center for Human Rights


2. Goals and Objectives:

The Center for Human Rights will have three core missions.  The first is to coordinate human rights initiatives on campus and to link these activities to the broader Asheville community.  The second is to offer a multidisciplinary approach to the study of human rights that will engage and inform students and faculty alike.  The Center’s third mission is to serve as a moving force for the study of human rights within the larger UNC system, as well as regionally, nationally and internationally. 


3.  Relevance of the Center to the University’s Mission

The University of North Carolina-Asheville has been designated as the “liberal arts” campus of the UNC system.  One of the essential ingredients of a liberal arts education is to develop and inculcate in students an identification with “others.”  There are several ways that this might be approached, but undoubtedly one of the most pressing cries for such connection is the “necessitous stranger,” or those whose human rights are being violated.   



UNCA Students

There already is a great deal of interest and activity on the UNCA campus related to human rights and the Center will coordinate and nurture this – and help make it grow.  In terms of the student population, several of the most visible and energetic organizations on campus – including Amnesty International, A.S.H.E. (Active Students for a Healthy Environment), Habitat for Humanity and Alliance – are focused on human rights issues.  Beyond this, a sizable number of students have created their own human rights major and there are substantial enrollments in human rights courses. 


In her book Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education (Harvard, 1997), Martha Nussbaum has argued that one of the purposes of a liberal arts education is to develop what she describes as “narrative imagination.”  She writes:


This means the ability to think what it might be like to be in the shoes of a person different from oneself, to be an intelligent reader of that person’s story, and to understand the emotions and wishes and desires that someone so placed might have.


Notwithstanding all of the advents of technology and the Internet, it is still difficult -- perhaps impossible -- to fully develop one’s “narrative imagination” from afar, which is to say that experience is still the very best teacher.  This is particularly true in the field of human rights.  Toward that end, a number of UNCA students have undertaken human rights internships in such places as the Carter Center, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the Danish Center for Human Rights, Annunciation House (El Paso, TX), Amnesty International, Seeds for Peace, the World Federalists, and the World AIDS Camp in Malawi.  In addition, beginning in the summer 2005, UNCA students will be working on international service learning projects in Haiti and Central America.  No doubt, we will begin with a trickle of students but the aim of the Center for Human Rights is to make this into a torrent of human rights activity – at UNCA, but for the entire UNC system as well.


Another testament to the deep interest in human rights on campus is the number of students who are pursuing graduate degrees in this field.  Matt Witbrodt (‘02) recently graduated with an LL.M. degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Lancaster (U.K.) and he will begin Ph.D. work this fall, doing a comparative study of aboriginal rights.  Taji Kommineni (‘03) recently completed her LL.M. in Human Rights at the University of Galway (Ireland).  Her thesis topic is the manner in which human rights practices and norms should be followed in the transformation of Iraq.  Finally, Brenda Knapp (’04) has just begun an M.A. program in Human Rights at the University of Essex (U.K.) where she will concentrate on land reform issues in the Third World. One of the aims of the Center is to further expand these opportunities.  Toward that end, the Center for Human Rights will serve as an invaluable resource for undergraduate research.


All too often when one speaks about campus affairs one is simply referring to the “traditional” student body.  However, there is also an enormous amount of interest in human rights issues in the College for Seniors reflected in such courses as “Imagining the Future” and “The Nuclear Dilemma.”  It is hoped that this common interest in human rights might serve as a bridge between the two generations.  In addition, a sizeable number of students in UNCA’s Masters in Liberal Arts program are studying human rights. 


Beyond this, there is no reason why human rights should be restricted to the college campus.  In order to reach younger students, a partnership program will be developed in cooperation with K-12 teachers and community advocates.  We will begin with Buncombe County and Asheville City Schools but our plan is to reach well outside this corner of Western North Carolina.  The focus of this partnership is to engage K-12 students on local and global human rights issues and to encourage student leadership in the struggle against racism, sexism and environmental destruction.  What will greatly assist this effort is the Center for Diversity Education, which now has a home on the UNCA campus. 


As an initial effort, the Center for Human Rights will be a part of the K-12 Outreach Program that is operated out of the University Center for International Studies (UCIS) at UNC-Chapel Hill.  Toward that end, we will be matching up interested classes with human rights “experts” in this region in an effort to present human rights issues to students in grades K-12. 



UNCA Faculty

Faculty interest in human rights is as impressive as it is widespread.  Listed below is the core group of faculty that has worked towards the creation of this Center, along with some off-campus affiliations. 


-- Keith Bramlett (Sociology; presently the UNCA Breman Professor for Social Relations; a member of Equality NC, a gay rights lobbyist group)

-- Melissa Burchard (Philosophy)

-- Brian Butler (Philosophy)

-- Linda Cornett (Political Science; Director of International Studies)

-- Volker Frank (Sociology; with an association with the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame)

-- Jill Fromewick (Humanities)

-- Mark Gibney (Political Science; Belk Distinguished Professor in the Humanities; a member of the editorial review board of Human Rights Quarterly; with an association with the Danish Institute for Human Rights)

-- Heon Lee (Sociology)

-- Leah Mathews (Economics)

-- Jeanne McGlinn (Education; the Head of the Humanities Program and a participant in the Asian Studies Development Center)

-- John McClain (Humanities)

-- Afaf Omer (Sociology; Director of Africana Studies)

-- Katie Peters (Classics)

-- Dot Sulock (Mathematics; Director of UNCA Summer Institute on Nuclear Non-Proliferation)

-- Surain Subramaniam (Political Science; with an association with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies)

-- Alice Weldon (Spanish; with an association with Andean Rural Health Care/Curamericas; UNA-USA Global Health Initiative)

-- John Wood (Anthropology; with an association with the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)


This expansive faculty interest in human rights is reflected in an impressive array of human rights courses including: Economic Growth and Development (ECON 314), Immigration/Refugee Law & Policy (POL 331), Philosophy of Human Rights (PHIL 214), Human Rights and International Politics (POL 388), International Law (POL 389), Evolution, Revolution and Social Change (SOC 240), Liberal Universalism and Its Critics (POL 384), Environmental Health (ENVR 336), International Organizations (POL 387) and Women, Islam and Human Rights (SOC 373).  To promote the teaching of human rights, Interdisciplinary Studies is in the process of creating a Global Issues major, and one of the tracks of this major will be International Law and Human Rights. In addition to this, there will be students who desire to have more of a domestic focus to their human rights studies (i.e., poverty, affordable housing, criminal justice) in which case the program of study would be accommodated within the existing Interdisciplinary Studies major.   


The human rights curriculum has been supplemented by a variety of extracurricular programs.  For example, the campus has benefited from a series of human rights experts and practitioners who have given public lectures at UNCA during the past few years.  These lectures have included:  Katarina Tomasevski (United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Lund University, Sweden) “The Right to Education Under International Law”; Makau Mutua (University of Buffalo School of Law) “Human Rights: A Cultural Project”; Sigrun Skogly (Lancaster University, UK) “Globalization and Its Discontents: Human Rights and the Challenges of an Integrated World”; Edward Weisband (Virginia Tech) “Accountability and Transparency in the Pursuit of Rights and Standards”; Randa Farah (University of Western Ontario, Canada) “Palestinian Rights”; Rhoda Howard-Hassmann (Canadian Research Chair, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada) “Are Western Human Rights Values Offensive (and if so, to whom?)”; Ian Williams, (journalist with The Nation.) “The War in Iraq”; Bonny Ibhawoh (Brock University, Canada), “Non-Western Visions of Human Rights”; Jonathan Marks (UNC School of Law) “Prosecuting Pinochet”; Paul Magnarella (University of Florida/Warren Wilson College) “The Rwandan Genocide”; LaShawn Jefferson, (Executive Director of the Women’s Rights Project at Human Rights Watch) “Why Women’s Rights Matter,” Robin Kirk (Human Rights Watch and the Duke University Initiative) “Colombia and the War on Terror”; and Abdullahi An-Na’Im, “Genocide in Darfur.”  While the lecture series already has become a permanent feature of campus life, it is envisioned that the program will be expanded to include short-term fellowships on campus where our guests could become a more integral part of the UNCA campus.     


The university’s held its first human rights film festival two years ago and in January 2005 it will be a co-host for a week-long Amnesty International film festival that will be shown both on and off campus.  This film festival will become an annual event and the Human Rights Center will host campus activities and work with local organizations for off-campus showings. 


Photography is another important means of marrying the political and the personal and UNCA and the local community have been enriched through a number of exhibits with human rights themes, by faculty and students alike.  These include Leigh Ann Henion’s, “Portraits of Working Children: Ecuador” and Bethany Jewell’s, “Images of Development: Senegal.”  Through a grant from the American Bar Association, the photography exhibit “Facing Human Rights” was shown in the Ramsey Library.  In 2003, Ken Betsalel (Political Science) and Heidi Kelly (Sociology) presented a photography exhibit of environmental degradation off the coast of Spain.  And finally, in June 2004, Marcella Ashburn and Naomi Johnson, an undergraduate and MLA student respectively, participated in the “Literacy Through Photography” workshop at Duke University (hosted by documentarian Wendy Ewald) and they are presently organizing a “hands-on” photography exhibit of work by local middle grade students that will focus on diversity and human rights issues. 


The Center for Human Rights will be firmly committed to faculty research and it will serve as a vehicle to develop research themes that both build on already existing knowledge but also explore new ideas that continue to emerge as a result of a rapidly changing world. We are particularly interested in exploring themes that are raised by the victims of human rights violations themselves. Thus, the Center for Human Rights is committed to value related research because human rights themselves are concerned with dignity, liberty and freedom.


Broader Asheville Community

One of the more exciting aspects of the UNCA Center for Human Rights is that the broader Asheville community is itself a hotbed of human rights activity.  The list of nongovernmental organizations and local agencies that focus on human rights issues is too long to be exhaustive but includes: World Affairs Council, International Link, Center for Diversity Education, NAACP, Mountain Housing, League of Women Voters, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, World Federalists, YMI Cultural Center, Western Carolinians for Criminal Justice and the WNC Chapter of the United Nations Association. 


Yet, notwithstanding all this energy and activity, many of these efforts exist isolated and apart from one another.  One of the goals of the Center, then, is to help coordinate these human rights initiatives that already exist.  Beyond that, the Center for Human Rights will make the interest and commitment to human rights grow. 


Human Rights Beyond UNCA

One of the core aims of the UNCA Center for Human Rights is to advance human rights scholarship, thinking and “active learning” far beyond the UNCA campus.  There are several ways that this might be done.  One is by providing students and faculty in the UNC system the opportunity of presenting their scholarship.  Toward that end, UNCA will host an annual conference on human rights for students and faculty alike.  In addition to this, through the UNC-EP Program, it is envisioned that UNCA’s international service learning initiatives will serve as a vehicle for “hands on” human rights work for students throughout the entire UNC system.


Finally, as mentioned earlier, one of the goals of the Center for Human Rights is to infuse human rights values into a younger population.  Toward that end, and working alongside the Center for Diversity Education, the Center for Human Rights will establish a summer training program that will teach teachers how to teach “human rights.”


4.  Anticipated Effects on Instructional Programs at UNCA

The Center for Human Rights will galvanize the instructional programs at UNCA.  The university is presently revamping its General Education program and Human Rights will play an instrumental role in this transformation.  For one thing, Humanities 414 is being eliminated and in its place will be a variety of capstone course options, many of which will have human rights as a focus.  In addition, the University will now mandate that all students take a diversity-intensive course, and once again, nearly all of these will be based around some human rights theme. 


The excitement surrounding a Center for Human Rights already has led to several new courses.  Katie Peters (Classics) and John McClain (Humanities) are presently developing a course on Human Rights in the Ancient World that is based on their important scholarship in this area.  In addition, their work will also be useful in bringing a human rights dimension to UNCA’s nationally recognized Humanities Program.  Volker Frank in Sociology is proposing two new courses with a human rights theme: “Democracy and Social Justice in Latin America” and “Comparative Labor Movements,” while Ken Betsalel in Political Science is developing a course “Genocide and the Politics of Witness.”  In addition to these new courses, it is envisioned that the human rights “movement” on campus will also influence many of our other existing course offerings. 


Finally, the proposed Center for Human Rights has led to a re-thinking of the study abroad options at UNCA and there is now an effort underway to create international service learning opportunities in Third World countries.  At the present time, two UNCA graduates with extensive experience in Haiti, Demeter Russafov and Amber Munger, are working towards the creation of a service learning program in that country starting in the summer 2005.  In addition, there are discussions underway for UNCA to partner with other institutions in offering a Central American service learning option as well.   


The ultimate goal is that the Center for Human Rights will fundamentally change the place of human rights in the university curriculum.  In terms of the UNCA campus, what is envisioned is that the Center will help to attract students who want to study human rights and faculty who are keen on teaching and doing research in this area.  Beyond this, however, the Center will serve as a lightning rod for human rights initiatives for students and faculty on all of the other UNC campuses.  


5. Director and Advisory Board

The overall direction of the Center will come from three main sources:  a Director and Assistant Director, an Advisory Board, and finally, Faculty Affiliates. 



The Director will be responsible for overseeing the daily functions of the Center for Human Rights.  These duties will include:  

Identification of funding opportunities and the creation of teaching and research projects that relate to human rights;


Grant proposal submissions;


Directing Undergraduate Research proposals;


Management of periodic and final reports from grant projects including the writing, reviewing and the submission of reports to funding agencies;


Establishment and coordination of the Center for Human Rights Advisory Board; 


Coordination of the Center with UNCA in terms of teaching assignments and project initiatives for human rights related courses. 


Mark Gibney, UNCA’s Belk Distinguished Professor, will serve as the interim director.  The term of the Director is three years, with the possibility of one renewal.   


Advisory Board

The Advisory Board will provide broad guidance to the Center.  The Board will consist of fifteen people: five (5) faculty from the UNC system, five (5) individuals from the state of North Carolina who are active in the area of human rights, and three (3) individuals who have a national and/or international reputation in the field of human rights.  The Advisory Board will be appointed by the Chancellor, after consultation with the Director.  The term of service will be three years, with the possibility of one renewal.        


Faculty Affiliates 

Finally, interested faculty – from the UNCA campus but from the other UNC campuses as well -- will serve as Affiliates of the Center.  In that capacity, Affiliates will help to develop and guide the mission of the Center. In turn, the Center will aid faculty both in terms of their teaching and scholarship. 


6. Organizational Structure

The Director of the Human Rights Center will report to the Chief Research Officer.  The Chief Research Officer will report to the Provost who will report to the Chancellor who, in turn, will report to President Molly Broad. 

(see attached)



7. Budget Estimates

It is envisioned that funding for the Center will come from government, non-profit and private sector sources.  Because the Center for Human Rights cannot operate efficiently without external funding sources, it will be necessary to consistently identify and pursue external funding opportunities.  First year costs are based on present expenditures.     


Year 1

Speaker/Fellowship Program: $4,000

Film Series: $2,000

Internships/International Service Learning: $10,000

K-12 Program: $1000

Conferences: $0

Faculty Research: $0

Total: $17,000


Year 2

Speaker/Fellowship Program: $5000

Film Series: $3,000

Internships/International Service Learning: $20,000

K-12 Program:  $3000

Conferences: $4000

Faculty Research: $5000

Total: $40,000


Year 3

Speaker/Fellowship Program: $13,000

Film Series: $5,000

Internships/International Service Learning: $25,000

K-12 Program: $9,000

Conferences: $10,000

Faculty Research: $10,000

Total: $72,000


Year 4

Speaker/Fellowship Program: $20,000

Film Series: $5,000

Internships/International Service Learning: $35,000

K-12 Program: $9,000

Conferences: $15,000

Faculty Research: $20,000

Total: $104,000


8. Capital Needs

At present, there are no capital needs.  However, the Center will need money for books and a video collection in the library.  There will also be the need for furniture expenditures for the Director’s Office and the Conference Room listed below.  External funding will be sought for these expenses.   



9.  Space Needs

At present, there are no space needs as the office of the interim director (Dr. Gibney) will be used as the “home” of the Center for Human Rights.  However, when a permanent Director is hired, this person will need an office.  If Dr. Gibney is named permanent Director, his faculty office would suffice for the office space required.  In addition, the Center for Human Rights will need a conference room for its various functions although this space might be shared with the other centers and also with departments in the same building. 


At the core of the Center for Human Rights is the pursuit of academic scholarship, research and service for faculty and students in a multi-disciplinary setting.  For the free exchange of ideas between  UNCA faculty and students and visiting scholars working at this center, as well as for easy access of students working on undergraduate research through the Center projects, it is essential that the Center for Human Rights be located on campus,  or as close to campus as possible.  Therefore, the Center Director will work with the Associate Vice Chancellors and other Administrators in allocating space for the Center or in determining its location, in such a way that will support the academic environment of the campus to the greatest degree. 


10.  Additional Information

Although what is being submitted is in the nature of a proposal to create the Center for Human Rights, it also has to be said that all (or nearly all) of the on-campus activities that have been described are already well under way at the university.  That is, a substantial portion of the student body at UNCA has a deep interest in human rights issues.  These students are taking courses with human rights themes, creating their own human rights majors, joining one of the many organizations on campus (such as Amnesty International) that are devoted to human rights work, filling the halls when outside speakers are brought to campus or when human rights movies are shown on (and off) campus, doing undergraduate research in the area of human rights, and finally, working as interns in a myriad of human rights organizations.  In addition, an increasing number are now pursuing graduate studies in human rights and these admirable young women and men are making human rights their life’s work.   


Although UNCA students have set the bar very high, the faculty has kept pace.  There is a burgeoning number of courses with human rights themes and this interest in human rights issues will become only more evident with the creation of human rights major and with the institutional changes that will come with the Integrative Learning Studies initiative.  What is equally impressive is the off campus activity of UNCA faculty, but perhaps that should not be so surprising given the host of local organizations that are devoted to human rights work.  Finally, faculty at UNCA are doing some very important research in this field and they are presenting their work at conferences or through journals and books.   


Notwithstanding all of this activity, the Center of Human Rights will fuel the flame, so to speak.  In terms of UNCA itself, the creation of a Center will fundamentally change the nature of the university – at the same time that it reinforces the liberal arts mission of the campus.  Yet, the entire reason for creating a Center is to infuse these objectives well beyond the confines of our small campus.  What is envisioned is that “human rights” will become a centerpiece of the UNC system itself.  The aim is to give students and faculty on all the campuses the opportunity and the incentive to engage in human rights work – while at the same time helping to make this world a better place.