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- Dayton Law-Human Rights Center Collaborative
Students Work Side by Side with Human Rights Scholars
With the rise of global instability, the world more than ever needs lawyers trained in the law of human rights. At the University of Dayton School of Law, students aren’t merely learning about human rights; they’re putting that knowledge into practice.
In a unique collaboration with the University’s Human Rights Center, students and faculty work side by side to protect the rights of the world’s most vulnerable citizens.
The History of the Dayton Law-Human Rights Center Collaborative
The Origins of the Human Rights Center
In 2013 scholars and practitioners from around the world convened in Dayton for the University’s first Social Practice of Human Rights Conference. At this landmark event, then UD President Daniel Curran had an announcement to make. The University would proceed with a bold new project to establish a Center for Human Rights. According to Curran, the new Center would “chart the frontiers of cutting edge research and advocacy.” Housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Center was a natural outgrowth of the University’s highly acclaimed Human Rights Studies program.
In its four short years, the Center has lived up to Curran’s promise. The Center’s work grew out of a collaboration with two programs: Abolition Ohio, a research and advocacy initiative to end human trafficking in Ohio, and Welcome Dayton, a local immigrant rights endeavor. Today the Center today has grown considerably and taken on an international dimension.
In 2015 the Center moved into its new state-of-the-art quarters in Fitz Hall, and in 2016 it hired its first executive director, human rights scholar and former advisor to the United Nations, Camilo Pérez-Bustillo.
The Birth of the Collaborative
In July 2015 Andrew Strauss became the 10th dean of the University of Dayton School of Law, and one year later Camilo Pérez-Bustillo became the first executive director of the Human Rights Center.
The potential for a collaborative soon became apparent. Pérez-Bustillo, an attorney and former law professor, and Strauss, an international law professor with a significant background in human rights, saw the possibilities from their very first meeting. “The Center had a strong understanding of the social and political dimensions of human rights, and our faculty and students could bring the law to bear,” Strauss says. “We knew it right away — working together we had a textbook synergy.”
The Collaborative is unique in scope. It integrates a new human rights course, UDSL’s Civil Clinic, and joint research between the Center and the Law School. All of these endeavors bring the reality of human rights study and advocacy directly to UDSL. The Collaborative’s course on human rights, for example, challenges students to understand how treaties hammered out in the faraway halls of the United Nations and other international power centers can protect the rights — and even transform the lives — of citizens around the world.