Annual Student Research Workshop on Human Rights in the Liberal Arts

February 21-22, 2014

The aim of this annual workshop is to bring together students and faculty from our different institutions to share their interests, insights, experiences, and concerns from the study of core human rights issues.

We hope that the experience of presenting, sharing, and brainstorming their work with peers from similar institutions will offer students an invaluable opportunity to sharpen their ideas and arguments in ways that will help prepare them more fully for graduate or professional work in the field of human rights.

We also invite selected faculty mentors to participate in the workshop in recognition both of their efforts in developing their students’ skills and of the collaborative nature of human rights research in the liberal arts. Thus we hope to initiate ongoing relationships with our own colleagues that will help to build issue-oriented professional networks that will advance the study of human rights issues.

Our broad theme for this year’s Workshop is Religion, Identity, and Conflict. We invite proposals from students doing substantial research on relevant issues, including – but not limited to – such topics as:

  • Religious identity, gender, and sexual orientation
  • Religious minorities and the secular state
  • Religion, salvation, and death
  • Faith-based movements, millenarianism and modernity
  • Religion, community and the other
  • Religion, war and nation
  • Faith-based organizations, service delivery, and social justice
  • Religious interpretations of legitimate violence
  • Religion, colonialism, and indigenous peoples’ rights

We wish to stress that the workshop is designed to foster inclusive discussions on students’ research topics in a relatively close and informal setting. Student proposals may be based on Honors research that a student is currently conducting, an independent research project, a completed term paper that a student would like to develop further, or any other substantial research work that is under way.


A tentative schedule of events for the workshop is listed below:

Friday, February 21

4 p.m.

Public Lecture on Religious (In)tolerance: Prof. Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago (this address is not formally part of the workshop, but we hope that workshop participants can arrive in time to attend, and we will treat it as the kick-off to our discussions)

6 p.m.

Dinner and Introductions       

7 p.m.

Summary of Workshop Goals and Schedule

7:15-8 p.m.

Opening Roundtable Discussion based on Prof. Nussbaum’s talk

8-9:15 p.m.

Session # 1

Saturday, February 22

8 a.m.

Continental Breakfast

8:30-9:45 a.m.

Session # 2

9:45-11 a.m.

Session # 3

11-11:15 a.m.


11:15-12:30 p.m.

Session #4

12:30-1:30 p.m.

Keynote Address: Prof. Jonathan Ebel, Department of Religion, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

1:30-2:45 p.m.

Session #5

2:45-4 p.m.

Session #6

4-4:30 p.m.

Conclusion and Discussion of Further Initiatives

William Munro
Director, John and Erma Stutzman Peace Fellows Program

Irv Epstein
Professor of Educational Studies and Director, Center for Human Rights and Social Justice