Texas professors to study human rights and
apply humanitarian focuses to variety of disciplines

SMU and Boone Foundation launch program to expand human rights education in Texas.

SMU Embrey Human Rights Program logo

SMU Embrey Human Rights Program logoDALLAS (SMU) — Six Texas professors have been named 2012 fellows for the Texas Project for Human Rights Education, a research-focused, curriculum-building program funded by The Boone Family Foundation of Dallas and overseen by the Embrey Human Rights Program within SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences.

The Texas Project for Human Rights Education program aims to expand human rights education throughout the state by awarding grants to higher-education teachers to conduct research and incorporate human rights into their varied academic disciplines.

Fellows from SMU are Sabri Ates, a Dedman College history professor, and Noah Simblist, an art professor within Meadows School of the Arts. Two other fellows with SMU connections are Candice Bledsoe, a 2007 graduate of SMU’s Master of Liberal Studies program who teaches English at Tarrant County College, and University of North Texas political science professor Idean Salehyan, who is affiliated with SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies. Two Texas Tech professors also have been named: business professor Hans Hansen and English professor Jill Patterson.

“This is an opportunity for the fellows, and ultimately their students, to understand how relevant human rights is in any field,” says Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin.

Each professor will receive about $20,000 to fund trips, human rights courses and research the Holocaust with a focus on women’s rights, a guiding force behind the Boone Family Foundation. The participants will:

  • Take part in a multidisciplinary faculty seminar taught this fall by Embrey Human Rights Program Director Halperin and other faculty members and activists to introduce the principles, history, current situation and ongoing struggles of the human rights movement.
  • Travel on an Embrey Human Rights Program-sponsored trip Dec. 16-30 to World War II Holocaust sites, including the House of the Wannsee Conference in Berlin where the Final Solution was planned. In Poland the fellows will visit the notorious Nazi-run concentration camp Ravensbrück, where more than 100,000 died, as well as such Nazi death camps as Treblinka, Belzec and Auschwitz-Birkenau. The fellows also will meet with Holocaust survivors.
  • Develop human rights courses in their respective fields to be presented in 2013.

SMU history professor Ates, who plans to teach “Human Rights in the Middle East,” is hopeful that “visiting and reflecting on the sites of one of the great tragedies of modern history will help me better understand the detrimental consequences of obsession with race, nationality and religion.”

Simblist, an SMU art professor who focuses on art and politics in Israel-Palestine, says one aspect of his work, “which has a huge overlap with human rights,” will include looking at how activism and architecture act symbolically.

For more details about the program, visit http://smu.edu/humanrights or call 214-768-8347.