Campus & Community

Arts, humanities, and human rights

3 min read

Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies welcomes students, presents awards, shares yearlong plan

Imagine the courtyard outside Harvard’s storied Faculty Club populated with 30 living statues, each a member of the Harvard Class of 2013, and each the living embodiment of a fellow Harvard student engaged in human rights.

This is a scene from Thursday’s (Sept. 24) annual Human Rights at Harvard Welcome Reception, hosted by the Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies (UCHRS).

The event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Faculty Club, bringing faculty, staff, and students together whose interest in human rights has an impact on their scholarship, advocacy, or artistic endeavors.

Directed by Diane Paulus, artistic director of the American Repertory Theater, the performance will inaugurate the committee’s yearlong effort to showcase work on campus integrating the arts, humanities, and human rights at Harvard.

UCHRS is an interdisciplinary faculty committee established by the Office of the Provost to promote communication, coordination, and collaboration among Harvard’s human rights initiatives. The committee looks to integrate and strengthen human rights learning and research across all the Schools at Harvard by developing vibrant programs of human rights studies and promoting collaborative projects around the University.

Building on the themes of the performance, Dean of Arts and Humanities Diana Sorensen, the James F. Rothenberg Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literature, will speak about Harvard’s commitment to integrating the arts, humanities, and human rights. Freshman Dean Thomas A. Dingman will talk about what role Harvard’s newest community members play in such efforts. Displays within the Faculty Club will showcase the artistic endeavors from the Harvard human rights community, ranging from photography to film to paintings on canvas.

President Drew Faust will close the event by presenting the 2009 Human Rights Essay Prize to Trevor Bakker ’10 for his work, “How Comprehensible Is Genocide?” and Amanda Mangaser ’10 for her essay, “Crimes Against Humanity Versus War Crimes: Contesting the Relative Gravity Intuition.” The prize was established last year to recognize excellence in human rights writing and to encourage Harvard College students to study human rights.

“We are delighted by the enthusiastic response to our request for examples of human rights and arts-related work at Harvard to showcase at the reception,” remarked UCHRS Executive Director Jacqueline Bhabha. “We see the expansion of human rights work from law and social science into the humanities and arts as a critical development with huge potential. We hope our yearlong focus on human rights and the arts will generate more work that builds on the significant achievements so far.”