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  January 22, 2002

Human Rights Semester Funding
Extended for Next Academic Year
By Richard Veilleux

Following a four-month effort that featured more than 50 seminars and workshops on human rights issues, Chancellor John D. Petersen has announced that an additional $15,000 is now available for faculty, staff and students interested in continuing the work next academic year.

"Human rights education needs to be part of our permanent culture," Petersen says. "It is something that must be part of our being and our personality well into the future.

"Our faculty and staff, and especially the committee that organized last semester's events, did a phenomenal job of stepping up and looking at the issues, not only at the University level but on the global stage as well, and creating a dialogue regarding what should be happening on campus and in our nation," he says.

He announced the new funding during a Dec. 10 session that brought to a close UConn's first - and hugely successful - Human Rights Semester.

Petersen designated the Human Rights Semester last summer, before terrorists attacked the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. Discussion of human rights issues took on added importance after Sept. 11.

Funding for the Semester supported 19 events, but more than 50 were offered on human rights themes, attracting several thousand participants. Every school and college, cultural center and institute, and dozens of departments either offered programs or sent representatives to serve on panels discussing the issues. A number of faculty and staff who teach First Year Experience courses incorporated human rights into their programs.

And a human rights minor, begun just last semester, already has enrolled more than 20 students, a very fast start for a new minor.

"A lot of people approached this as an important event, and made it a priority in their department," says Tom Wilsted, director of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center and chair of the Human Rights Committee.

Wilsted hopes that faculty and staff will continue to consider it a University priority and will sponsor human rights-related programming this semester using departmental funding, even as they plan to apply for funding for next year's effort. He says the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which contributed to the funding pool last semester, has agreed to add $2,000 to next year's pool.

One program - a seminar focusing on citizenship and human rights in Puerto Rico - is already scheduled for April 11 by the Puerto Rican and Latino Studies Institute. The event was planned for last semester, but was postponed after the terrorist attacks.

Wilsted, whose committee is being restructured to add students to all phases of the effort, says the committee will announce plans for the next round of competitive grants within the next month. Applications will be due by mid-March, and grants will be awarded in April.

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