Rick Halperin

Adjunct Lecturer Professor of the Practice of Human Rights Director, Human Rights Education Program




Office Location

Clements Hall Room 109



Educational Background 

Ph.D., Auburn University 
M.A., Southern Methodist University 
B.A., George Washington University 

Rick Halperin is Director of the Southern Methodist University Human Rights Education Program http://www.smu.edu/humanrights/ and teaches courses at SMU including: America's Dilemma: The Struggle for Human Rights; America and the Age of Genocide; and America Enraged: From Brown to Watergate, 1954-1974. 

He is frequently interviewed on television and radio as well as by print media, and he speaks nationally and internationally on a wide range of human rights issues including genocide and the death penalty 

Halperin has served on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA from 1989-1995, and again from 2004-2010; he served as Chair of the Board from 1992-1993 and again from 2005-2007. He is also a member of the National Death Penalty Advisory Committee, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (serving as President from 2000-2006 and from 2007 to present). 

Halperin has been involved in many human rights monitoring projects, including an Amnesty International delegation which investigated the conditions of the Terrell Unit (Texas death row facility) in Livingston, Texas. In 1998, he was eyewitness to a lethal injection execution in the death chamber in Huntsville, Texas. Halperin also participated in a U.N. Human Rights delegation and inspected prison conditions in Dublin, Ireland, and Belfast, Northern Ireland for a report by the Irish Prison Commission, and he participated in a human rights monitoring delegation in El Salvador in 1987. 

In addition to his work against the death penalty, Halperin is also active in other areas of human rights. He works with a variety of organizations which seek improvements in human rights on behalf of women, children, gays and lesbians, indigenous persons, survivors of torture, imprisoned political prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders, journalists, and healthcare professionals who are under non-stop assault by governments around the world. 

Halperin leads groups of interested persons, including students, faculty, and community members, on human rights educational journeys three times each year to places such as Argentina, Cambodia, Rwanda, South Africa, El Salvador, Bosnia, and numerous Holocaust sites across Europe. Every December he takes a group to death camps and other Holocaust sites in Poland for two weeks. These trips are designed to pay tribute, in part, to those men, women and children who were destroyed in the camps, as well as to honor those who survived the experience. (http://smu.edu/newsinfo/stories/rick-halperin-trip-dec2006.asp) It was, and remains, necessary to remember that the human spirit is capable of enduring and vanquishing the most unimaginable horrors that humanity can produce.
Rick Halprin faculty portrait