On Oct. 4, students, faculty and staff filled the Paul E. Johnson Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library to hear a panel of distinguished scholars, appropriately called "Ambassadors for Peace and Human Rights," sponsored by Eastern's Peace and Human Rights Committee.
President Elsa Nunez greeted the presenters, saying "learning about human rights is the first step towards respecting, promoting and defending those rights. It is the process of teaching and learning the significance of the inherent dignity and worth of the human personthat is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. This empowerment of peace and human rights education constitutes an important investment for the future, aimed at achieving a just society in which all human rights of all persons are valued and respected."
Charles Prewitt, professor emeritus who taught Peace and Human Rights for several years at Eastern, revealed his gripping experience of working on the Manhattan Project, research and development program that produced the first atomic bomb during World II. Prewitt bailed out on the project because he "didn't want to be part of something that killed people."
Political Science Professor Christopher Vasillopulos talked on the topic, "The Power State and Human Rights." Mary Curran, associate professor of geography, discussed "Human-Animal Relations: Situational Ethics Rather than Rights." Gail Gelburd, professor and chair of the Visual Arts Department, discussed "The Art of Social Commentary." English Professor Raouf Mama offered a perspective on his native land, "From Dictatorship to Democracy: The Beninese Experience." Nicole Krassas, professor of political science, provided details on the evolution of "Women's Rights as Human Rights." Stacey Close, professor of history and interim chief diversity officer, shared insight on "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Struggle for Human Rights in the United States." Philosophy Professor Hope Fitz illuminated the audience on "Spreading Gandhi's Belief in and Practice of Ahimsa, i.e., Non-harm and Compassion, and his Saryagrah, i.e., a Truth Force Against Oppression." David McLeod, a graduate student, addressed the topic, "Transphobia: Is it Fear or Hate?"