Law Students to Empower DC High School Students to Become Human Rights Advocates
American University Washington College of Law and RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights Launch New Speak Truth To Power Human Rights Teaching Fellows Program
WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2012 – The Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Center) at American University Washington College of Law and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFKC) have launched a new transformative initiative for student-to-student peer education in the field of human rights, the Speak Truth To Power (STTP) Human Rights Teaching Fellows Program.
The first-of-its-kind program brings together law students, high school teachers, and high school students to promote human rights education and activism. Building on the success of the RFK Center's STTP human rights curriculum, the new STTP Human Rights Teaching Fellows Program expands on more than two decades of work by the Center and RFKC promoting human rights education in the United States and around the world by empowering law students to become human rights educators and by inspiring high school students to become human rights advocates.
The program trains law students in effective communication techniques for teaching and talking about rights – an important skill which will be useful for attorneys advocating their cases and for activists promoting their causes. The program provides law students with practical experience in using those skills by enabling them to teach high school students from a variety of communities in the Washington, D.C. area, basing their lessons on the highly acclaimed Speak Truth To Power Human Rights curriculum. In addition, through exposing high school students to law student-educators, the program seeks to create peer-to-peer educational models to inspire young people to make positive change in the world around them.
Participating area schools include the Maya Angelou Academy, Annandale High School, and Georgetown Day School.
"We all have a responsibility to speak up and speak out against inequality and oppression wherever we find it," said John Heffernan, director of Speak Truth To Power at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. "The partnership with Washington College of Law enables us to engage students in what it means to be a defender against human rights violations in their everyday lives."
"We are proud to partner with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights on this important initiative, with the common goal of promoting human rights through the education and training of a new generation," said Claudio Grossman, dean of American University Washington College of Law and a member of the RFK Center's Board of Directors. "This program joins the ranks of the Washington College of Law's diverse array of clinics and special programs that are continually dedicated to improving human rights both at home and abroad."
Following a competitive application process, ten American University Washington College of Law students were selected as 2012 STTP Human Rights Teaching Fellows. Fellows include former professional teachers, a woman who worked with refugees in Uganda, as well as a former auctioneer. Learn more about all the teaching fellows.
Speak Truth To Power, a project of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, is a multi-faceted global initiative that uses the experiences of courageous defenders from around the world to educate students and others about human rights, and urge them to take action. Issues range from slavery and environmental activism to religious self-determination and political participation. The project’s renowned human rights curriculum consists of lessons based on the lives and work of select human rights defenders, including 14 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, which are designed to encourage youth to become personally involved in the protection of human rights. The STTP curriculum has been taught to thousands of students in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States. An updated U.S. curriculum, launched in fall 2011, includes 32 teacher-developed lesson plans for students in grades 6-12.
The Speak Truth To Power Human Rights Teaching Fellows Program envisions an innovative, replicable model for experiential learning and teaching of human rights, which will be expanded into additional law schools and school districts across the country in the coming academic year.
The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (www.rfkcenter.org) was founded in 1968 by Robert Kennedy's family and friends as a living memorial to carry forward his vision of a more just and peaceful world. The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit charitable organization.
In 1896, American University Washington College of Law became the first law school in the country founded by women. More than 100 years since its founding, this law school community is grounded in the values of equality, diversity, and intellectual rigor. The law school's nationally and internationally recognized programs (in clinical legal education, trial advocacy, international law, and intellectual property to name a few) and dedicated faculty provide its 1700 JD, LL.M., and SJD students with the critical skills and values to have an immediate impact as students and as graduates, in Washington, DC and around the world. For more information, visit wcl.american.edu.
The Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law was established at American University Washington College of Law in 1990 to provide scholarship and support for human rights initiatives in the United States and around the world. The Center works with students, academics and practitioners to enhance the understanding and implementation of human rights and humanitarian law domestically, regionally and internationally. The Center explores emerging intersections in the law and seeks to create new tools and strategies for the creative advancement of international norms. In addition to ongoing work with students, which includes skills development seminars, lunchtime learning sessions, and a robust program of more than 50 conferences and workshops per year, the Center runs grant-funded projects which seek to impact and shape the global conversation around a range of key human rights issues. More information about the Center can be found at www.wclcenterforhr.org.