Webster to Host Human Rights Conference on UN Millennium Development Goals

Sep. 3, 2015

Webster to Host Human Rights Conference
Students at the 2014 Human Rights Conference

ST. LOUIS – Webster University will host its annual Human Rights Conference at the Webster Groves campus Oct. 7-8, 2015. This year’s conference theme is the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Created by the United Nations as a blueprint for human rights development with a target date of 2015, the Millennium Development Goals have galvanized support from governments and institutions in their efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. The goals range from halving extreme poverty rates to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education.

Events at Webster’s human rights conference will reflect on the successes and failures of these development goals, and consider the post-2015 development agenda.

“This is the time when the international community is asking some hard questions about what worked and what didn’t, and also deciding where we go from here,” said Lindsey Kingston, Webster professor of human rights and director of the University’s Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies. “Webster’s annual Human Rights Conference brings this debate to Saint Louis, and I hope these conversations will continue throughout the 2015-16 academic year.”

Guest speakers include scholars and human rights advocates from around the country; their areas of expertise, Kingston noted, range from “heath rights and education to gender equality and sustainability.”

Judith Blau, professor emerita of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, will close the conference on October 8 with a keynote titled “The Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights: Bringing the United States on Board.” Blau, who co-founded and directed the Human Rights Center of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, is also the founder and past president of the US chapter of Sociologists without Borders (SSF), and the author of six books on sociology, most recently “Human Rights and Sociology” (Sage, 2011).

“I’m particularly delighted to welcome Judith Blau as our keynote speaker,” said Kingston. “She is a highly respected, world-renowned sociologist who has dedicated her life to fighting inequality. She’ll be discussing how the United States fits into these debates about international development and how we can push for human rights protection in the future.”

The conference is sponsored by the University’s Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies – an organization committed to supporting human rights as a field of study at Webster and inspiring future leaders to embrace human rights as the foundation for global civil society. 

Now in its eighth year, Webster’s annual Human Rights Conference brings together a diverse group of activists, researchers, scholars, and students to create a conversation around the University-wide Year of International Human Rights theme. Past themes include refugee and migrant rights, rights of the family, and women’s rights.

“The conference is always a high point in the College’s annual line-up of quality programming, and it is emblematic of the value Webster places on social justice,” said David Carl Wilson, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “As we celebrate Webster’s centennial year and reflect on the legacy of our founders, the Sisters of Loretto, we can see how their example is alive and well through our innovative Institute and its efforts to bring human rights issues to the forefront of both academic and community conversation.”

Conference Schedule

All conference events, held in the East Academic Building at 545 Garden Avenue, are free and open to the public. For more information, including the full conference schedule, visit the 2015 conference page.

Plenary speakers and titles include: 

  • Ather Zia, University of Northern Colorado, Department of Anthropology and Gender Studies Program. “The Case of Kashmir: Gender Equality and the Question of Empowerment”
  • Emily Farell, The Advocates for Human Rights. “The Power of Human Rights Education”
  • Christopher Morley, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Department of Family Medicine. “Global Development and the Healthcare Workforce”
  • Robert Lorway, University of Manitoba, Centre for Global Public Health. “Technocratic HIV Interventions in the Era of the Millennium Development Goals”
  • Deborah Pierce, Webster University Center for International Education, and colleagues. "Lessons from Brazil: Next Steps for Environmental Sustainability & Human Development"
  • Hans Peter Schmitz, Associate Professor, University of San Diego, School of Leadership and Education Sciences. “2015 and Beyond: MDGs, Digitally-Enabled Activism, and Human Rights”

About Webster

With its home campus in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, Webster University comprises an action-oriented global network of faculty, staff, students and alumni who forge powerful bonds with each other and with their communities around the globe. Founded in 1915, Webster is a private non-profit university with almost 20,000 students studying at campus locations in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa and in a robust learning environment online. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.

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