Human Rights Day to kick off Congress this spring 

A full day of discussions lectures and exchanges will bring internationally acclaimed experts to Human Rights Day to jumpstart the Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences on May 28. They will come together to address obstacles, denounce abuses, and declare the inalienability of human rights.

The subject of human rights is one that supports the overall theme of Connected Understanding, says Ronald Rudin, history professor and Academic Convenor for Congress 2010.

“The issue of human rights is one that’s become part of the DNA of many branches of research being conducted at Concordia,” says Rudin. “When we originally decided upon the overall theme, it wasn’t a large leap to see how the work of many of our people are at the forefront of showing how the issue’s effects ripple throughout society.”

Rudin points to the work of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, the Montreal Life Stories project and the Centre for Oral History for examples of groundbreaking human rights research being conducted here at Concordia.

The day’s events, based on the format of the President’s Conference Series, will be divided into at least three sessions.

The morning session will address the topic of human rights and youth, specifically focusing on child soldiers. Speakers will include Communication Studies professor Liz Miller (a partner in the Montreal Life Stories project) and former Concordia student and Trudeau scholar William Tayeebwa, a former child soldier himself.

The afternoon session will offer a glimpse of artwork inspired by human rights questions, and how the issue has been represented. One of the confirmed guests will be Iranian-French photojournalist Reza Deghati. Perhaps most famous for his contributions to National Geographic, Deghati is the author of 16 books, and won the UNICEF Hope Prize for his contribution to a joint project Lost Children Portrait in Rwanda.

The evening session will converge upon the issue of human rights and women. Radio-Canada news anchor Céline Galipeau will be featured as a main speaker in a co-presentation of Concordia and the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences. Joining Galipeau will be journalists Agnès Gruda from La Presse and Jessica Leeder from The Globe and Mail. Together, the three will be reflecting on their many respective first hand experiences of witnessing human rights issues pertaining to women.

In addition, organizers are planning a series of Master Classes for a group of 20 graduate students studying human rights coming from all over Canada. The students, who will be here participating in Congress, will be chosen for the classes after a process evaluating their research. These seminars would involve discussion on a subject related to human rights as determined by the human rights expert leading the master class.

“There’s no precedent for a university hosting Congress to do something such as this,” says Rudin. “It truly is an opportunity to show delegates Concordia’s expertise in this particular field.”

Organizers expect to confirm more speakers for the Human Rights Day in the weeks to come. As Congress draws near, the Journal will bring you developments of this and other events.

See Concordia's Congress site for more coverage.


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