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Human Rights Institute

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Human Rights Institute

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The Human Rights Institute (HRI) at Kean University broadens the university's longstanding efforts to promote the awareness of human rights issues and violations across the globe, and to develop initiatives designed to help eradicate these atrocities and their root causes. The HRI is housed in the Nancy Thompson Library and includes a state-of-the-art gallery highlighting issues, artwork and publications related to human rights worldwide. The facility’s architects recently received a Design Honor Award from the New Jersey Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. 

As the leader in teacher education in New Jersey, Kean University is well positioned to make a significant impact through our network of educators in shaping the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s leaders at an impressionable age. The HRI’s groundbreaking work is recognized as a major regional and national resource for developing curricula, seminars and other materials aimed at promoting understanding and tolerance across ethnic, racial, religious and other barriers and inspiring action.
In May 2010, the HRI formally opened its doors at a dedication ceremony featuring Kerry Kennedy, co-founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, one of the world's leading advocacy centers for ongoing education related to human rights issues and individual empowerment. For the opening, Ms. Kennedy also lent the HRI Gallery her powerful and inspiring creation, "Speak Truth to Power." The exhibit featured photographs of individual human rights champions from around the globe - persons Ms. Kennedy personally interviewed for the accompanying publication "Speak Truth to Power." The exhibit ran through December 2010 and was viewed by thousands of students and visitors.

A Call To Action
As we know from humanity’s history and witness in our daily lives, we do live in a world still rife with oppression, bigotry, hatred and genocide in all their insidious forms.  Unfortunately, hateful words coupled with evil actions have produced horrors in all corners of the globe throughout history. 

The HRI is Kean University’s call to action.  We have an obligation to teach, to educate and most importantly, to act on behalf of the powerless. 

Kean University students have responded to that call and formed a Human Rights Club.  The students have participated in and organized various events, including fundraisers, lectures and conferences on and off campus. The student group has raised more than $15,000 to purchase solar cookers for women in refugee camps in Darfur and the Congo, and sponsored events to raise awareness of child slavery and human trafficking worldwide. The club has also participated in Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

An example of the continuing work that the institute is organizing on campus involves the Human Rights Club and the Robert Busch School of Design. Together the team worked with the Enough Project, a non-profit advocacy group started by the Anne Evans Estabrook Human Rights Senor Fellow, John Prendergast. Their collaborative effort is portrayed in the video below:


Building On A Proud Tradition
Kean University has a long history and impressive record throughout New Jersey and the region for promoting awareness and prejudice reduction through our Holocaust Resource Center.

Kean University was a pioneer among educational institutions in the United States through the creation of the Holocaust Resource Center in 1982.  The Holocaust Resource Center has among its vast resources available for research and study more than 300 videotaped interviews with 250 Holocaust survivors and 3,000 books in its collection. 

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