Campus & Community

HLS creates fund to combat discrimination:

3 min read

$2M fund will support research and education initiatives

The Law School (HLS) has announced the creation of a fund to support courses, seminars, research, and conferences on ways to combat discrimination and prejudice. The Sheldon Seevak/Facing History and Ourselves Fund, established with a $2 million gift from Sheldon Seevak, will be managed by the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of Law Martha Minow.

For over 27 years, Facing History and Ourselves has worked with educators to help young people link history to the moral choices they confront in their own lives. This center builds on Facing History’s long-standing connections with Harvard. For the past nine years, the Harvard/Facing History Project, an effort centered at the Graduate School of Education, has conducted research and created resources to help educators encourage responsible participation in a democratic society.

“This gift offers an extraordinary opportunity to pursue research and curricular innovations addressing the prevention of abuses of power, group prejudice, intergroup violence, and unthinking obedience to authority,” said Minow. “Sheldon Seevak is a visionary who cares deeply about the prospects for democracy and the development of leaders in challenging times. His gift has already generated exciting conversations among faculty and students at HLS.”

The fund will allow for the study of instances of legal and political resistance to racism, prejudice, and anti-Semitism with the purpose of using these historical examples to help inform and guide the present and future. The initiative will include work in human rights, civil rights, international law, terrorism, poverty law, and legal history.

“I am particularly thrilled at the chance to build collaborations between HLS and Facing History and Ourselves, an extremely effective … initiative with over two decades of experience,” said Minow.

A member of the Harvard Law faculty since 1981, Minow is among the world’s leading human rights scholars. Her recent books include “Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History after Genocide and Mass Violence,” “Breaking the Cycle of Hatred: Memory, Law, and Repair,” and “Not Only for Myself: Identity, Politics, and the Law.” She served on the Independent International Commission on Kosovo and recently won the Radcliffe Graduate Society Medal, presented to women who have earned a Radcliffe or Harvard graduate degree and have made an outstanding contribution to their field.

Facing History Executive Director Margot Stern Strom said, “This extraordinary partnership, which benefits from a long relationship with friend and board member Martha Minow and the amazing generosity of Shelley Seevak, will bring the expertise and resources of the Law School to teachers and students, and ultimately, through the Web, to all those who Facing History reaches around the globe.”

Seevak, a 1953 graduate of Harvard Law School, has been involved in the Facing History and Ourselves Project for the past 10 years.