Berkeley Spotlight Focuses on International Human Rights
By Kathleen Maclay, Public Affairs
Students and faculty members are traveling to Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bosnia and elsewhere to help stem human rights abuses as the campus assumes leadership in this field.
"Berkeley is viewed as the place to be," for those dedicated to human rights, said David Caron, a professor at the School of Law. "The law school and university are now important actors in the field, and students come here directly because of the Human Rights Center."
The campus's Human Rights Center was established in 1994 and, at Boalt Hall, the International Human Rights Law Clinic was set up in 1997. The two, said Caron, "totally transformed human rights at Berkeley, in my view."
Berkeley's orientation is less traditional than most and emphatically embraces a wide range of academic disciplines, said Eric Stover, director of the human rights center and an adjunct professor at the School of Public Health. His own experience ranges from surveying mass graves in Rwanda to researching social and medical consequences of land mines in Cambodia to testifying for the prosecution in the trial of Argentine junta leaders.
Examples of the campus's broad leadership in field of human rights include:
Human rights classes at Berkeley are popular, according to administrators. Students also are flocking to do volunteer work related to human rights, and a large number of students are pursuing degrees in fields related to human rights, said David Leonard, dean of International & Area Studies, home of the Human Rights Center.
"If you look back 25 to 30 years, we had a very limited interest in human rights, actually," he said. "And we've just seen a whole land shift, a dramatic change in the amount of interest in this subject."