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University of Wyoming
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Phone: 307-766-2379
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Email: uwyomag@uwyo.edu

UWyo Magazine

May 2016 | Vol. 17, No. 3

UW students examine late 12th and early 13th century carvings at the Ta Prohm Temple at Angkor, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, during a recent study abroad trip. Photo Courtesy of Isadora Helfgott

UW students examine late 12th and early 13th century carvings at the Ta Prohm Temple at Angkor, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, during a recent study abroad trip. Photo Courtesy of Isadora Helfgott


Expanding the Discussion


Research clusters, including one on human rights, bring global discussions to Wyoming.

By Micaela Myers

To solve the world’s big problems, you need multiple perspectives. Recognizing this, the University of Wyoming’s Center for Global Studies, which promotes international research and scholarship, created five research cluster program areas to help bring faculty members from different departments together: Energy, Water, Food and other Transboundary Challenges to Security; Environment and National Resources; Economics, Finance and Sustainable Development; Leadership and Governance in Global Policymaking; and Ethics, Human Rights and Justice.

“We specifically focus on interdisciplinary work,” says Jean Garrison, director of the Center for Global Studies and a professor in global and area studies and political science. “The key to solving local-to-global problems is to have multiple eyes on it from different perspectives. If you can do that, I think you have a much better opportunity to understand the nature of the problem and to foster solutions. That’s the purpose of these clusters.”

The recently formed clusters are already bringing faculty members from across campus together. For example, research within the Ethics, Human Rights and Justice group includes Isadora Helfgott, associate professor in the Department of History, and Nicole Crawford, curator of collections at the UW Art Museum, collaborating to study the role of contemporary artists and cultural institutions such as the Sleuk Rith Institute in promoting reconstruction through commemoration and remembrance of the atrocities committed under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Noah Novogrodsky and Suzan Pritchett, professors in the College of Law, co-direct the Center for International Human Rights Law and Advocacy, as well as conduct research and oversee graduate student research. Pritchett is also involved with refugee issues within Wyoming in light of the Syrian refugee crisis, including giving a series of talks. Nevin Aiken, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, is working on legacies of the Namibian genocide, and David Messenger, professor and director of the Global and Area Studies Program, is researching museums in Spain and how they tell the history of that nation’s civil war using a human rights framework. Messenger also oversees two graduate students focusing on the Rwandan genocide.

“Essentially we are people doing a variety of human rights research,” Messenger says of the research group. “We used a grant to fund faculty research and to set up a seminar series, which is continuing this year.”

The seminar series expands the discussion beyond the UW community. UW faculty members and students give public presentations on campus and in Wyoming communities, and outside speakers are also invited to give talks. In addition, the Wyoming Humanities Council in partnership with the Global and Area Studies Program and the Center for Global Studies held a summer institute on human rights in 2015. The institute was open to teachers and others and examined human rights, with a focus on connecting history from the classical era to contemporary issues.

“It was all about encouraging ways for secondary teachers to incorporate human rights into their curricula,” Messenger says, adding that the seminar is an excellent example of the natural outgrowth of expanding conversations.

In 2016–17, the work will continue to grow through a partnership with the U.S. Sen. Malcolm Wallop Fund for Conversations on Democracy, which will help fund student and faculty research and outreach programming on civil society and democratic governance themes.

“We are extending the focus from human rights to human rights and democracy,” Messenger says.

Human rights issues affect people across the globe in countless ways. “Human rights touch on a lot of different subjects and a lot of different ways of thinking about issues,” Messenger says—for example, it’s also civil rights. Through the cluster’s ongoing work, the conversation about human rights at home and abroad will continue at UW and in communities across Wyoming.

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UWyo Magazine
University of Wyoming
Dept. 3226
1000 East University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
Phone: 307-766-2379
TTY: 307-766-6729
Email: uwyomag@uwyo.edu

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