2018 Annual Human Rights Conference | Webster University
2018 Annual Human Rights Conference | Webster University

2018 Annual Human Rights Conference

Human Rights 2018

The Right to Education: Education as Empowerment

Article 26 of the United Nations’ International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) states: “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Under international law, the human right to education holds governments responsible for providing primary education, for avoiding discrimination throughout educational systems, and ideally for developing equitable access to higher education. In practice, advocates stress the need to make education available, accessible, acceptable, and adaptable – across communities, cultural and socio-economic divides, ability levels, and more. From a human rights perspective, education is both a right in itself and a tool for advancing rights norms and promoting social justice.

Webster University’s 2018 Annual Human Rights Conference will center on the fundamental right to education, focusing on the immense potential of “Education as Empowerment” on October 10-11. This two-day event will explore topics such as human rights education (HRE), access to education for vulnerable and under-served populations, and educational opportunities for improving health, for promoting cultural survival, and for building communities. Sponsored by the Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies, this on-campus event is free and open to the public.


Conference Schedule

  • Dates: Wednesday, October 10, 2018 and Thursday, October 11, 2018
  • Venue: Browning Hall Auditorium (Room 160, 8274 Big Bend Blvd.) 
  • Event parking is available at the Garden Park Plaza parking structure (568 Garden Avenue). Note that the Garden Park Plaza is #10 on the campus map and Browning Hall, our conference venue, is located at #36.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Time Event Details
10:45-11:00 AM Welcome and conference framework  Conference Welcome by Elizabeth (Beth) Stroble, President, Webster University. Conference Framework by Danielle MacCartney, Associate Professor of Sociology and Fellow of the Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies, Webster University.
11:00-12:15 PM Session #1 – Rebecca Ginsburg, Associate Professor and Director, Education Justice Project, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign “Higher Education in Prison as Human Right and Social Good.”
12:15-1:00 PM BREAK
1:00-2:15 PM Session #2 – Jimmie M. Edwards, Director of Public Safety, City of Saint Louis “Shutting Down the School-to-Prison Pipeline.”
2:30-3:45 PM Session #3 – Lauren Mueller, Early Childhood Educator, City of Saint Charles School District; Sharon Spurlock, Director of Family Supports, Saint Louis Arc; Christopher R. J. Worth, Organizing Team Manager, Paraquad “Expectation, Access, and Accommodation: The Keys to Empowerment.”

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Time Event Details
10:00-11:15 AM Session #4 - Roundtable discussion  “Human Rights in Higher Education” with Webster University faculty and staff, including Bill Barrett (Photography), Bethany Keller (Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs), Lindsey Kingston (International Human Rights), Amanda Rosen (International Relations), and Julie Setele (Sociology).
11:15-12:00 PM BREAK
12:00-1:15 PM Session #5 – Kevin Miller, Senior Researcher, American Association of University Women (AAUW) “Student Debt as a Human Rights Issue.” 
1:30-2:45 PM Session #6 – Neftali Duran, Co-Founder, I-Collective “Cooking, Cultural Education, and Food Sovereignty.” 
3:00-4:15 PM Session #7 – Webster Alumni Panel Featuring Javier Cardenas Miranda (The Covering House), Emily Fry Morrison (Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing), Melissa George (Teach for America/Tulsa Public Schools), Monica Henson (Teach for America STL), and Jordan Palmer (The Independence Center).
5:30-7:00 PM Keynote Address: Nancy Flowers, Co-Founder, Human Rights Educators USA "Bringing Human Rights Home: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in U.S. Classrooms."
  RECEPTION Please join us for refreshments in the Browning Hall Lobby and Courtyard


Plenary Speakers:

Neftali DuranNeftali Duran is a chef, advocate, educator, and organizer working towards an equitable food system and building a network of indigenous food leaders. His work is informed by his own experience as a migrant worker, drawing on his origins in the Mexican region of Oaxaca, and 18 years of experience in the restaurant industry. Duran is a Salzburg Global Fellow and co-founder of the I-Collective, an indigenous collective that promotes a healthy food system that values people, traditional knowledge, and the planet over profit. His writing and culinary projects have been featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of American History, as well as by the Native American Culinary Association, LongHouse Food Revival, Food52, and the Cooking Channel. He was also a featured speaker on The Moth mainstage, as well as at institutions such as Harvard University and Smith College. Duran’s work is grounded in the belief that access to food is a human right, and he is interested in documenting culinary traditions and reclaiming the cultural roots of the original peoples of the Americas.

Jimmie EdwardsJimmie M. Edwards was appointed Director of Public Safety for the City of Saint Louis in November 2017. He served as a Circuit Judge for the State of Missouri for more than 25 years, and was Administrative Judge of the Family Court from 2007-2012. In 2009, Edwards opened Innovative Concept Academy – a school committed to educating at-risk youth while combatting risk factors and negative behaviors that keep them from obtaining a high school diploma. He has been featured on the CBS Early Show, the Today Show, and in The Wall Street Journal. People magazine named Edwards one of its 2011 heroes of the year, while Ebony selected him for its 2013 Power 100 Most Influential in America List. He has received the William Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, one of highest judicial awards in the United States, as well as honors including the Raymond Pace Alexander Award and induction into the Missouri Public Service Hall of Fame.

Rebecca GinsburgRebecca Ginsburg is a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a co-founder and current director of the Education Justice Project (EJP), a unit of the College of Education. EJP offers for-credit courses and a range of extracurricular activities to men incarcerated at Danville Correctional Center, a medium-security state prison. EJP also does outreach with family members and friends of incarcerated people, produces reentry guides, and promotes critical discussion of issues related to incarceration and criminal justice on campus and in the community. Almost 100 faculty, graduate students, and staff from across campus are involved in delivering these programs. They, along with incarcerated EJP students, also produce scholarship on higher education in prison and related topics. Ginsburg received her JD from the University of Michigan Law School, and a PhD in Architectural History from the University of California at Berkeley. At the University of Illinois, she teaches courses on the history of prisons and carceral landscapes.

Kevin MillerKevin Miller is a Senior Researcher at the American Association of University Women (AAUW). He holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and political science from the University of Illinois and received his doctorate in social psychology at the Ohio State University. He has authored publications, testified before state and city lawmakers, conducted technical assistance, and analyzed data on a wide variety of topics. These topics include the gender wage and leadership gaps; challenges faced by women in postsecondary education; paid leave and other workplace policies; implicit bias; and early care and education. Before joining AAUW, Kevin conducted research at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and was staff at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He joined AAUW in November 2015.

The “Expectation, Access, and Accommodation” panel includes:

Lauren MuellerLauren Mueller is an Early Childhood Educator for the City of Saint Charles School District. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Missouri Baptist University and is currently pursuing Master’s degree at the University of Missouri – Columbia.

Sharon SpurlockSharon Spurlock has worked in support of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1982. She currently serves as Director of Family Support at the Saint Louis Arc, where oversees planning and problem solving for the 4,000 individuals and families. Spurlock facilitates her organization’s Social Justice Committee and was a founding collaborator with the UMSL SUCCEED program.

Christopher WorthChristopher R. J. Worth is the Organizing Team Manager at Paraquad, a Saint Louis nonprofit whose mission is “to empower people with disabilities to increase their independence through choice and opportunity.” He has a Master’s of Fine Arts from Marshall University in West Virginia.


book imageHuman Rights in Higher Education: Institutional, Classroom, and Community Approaches to Teaching Social Justice (Palgrave 2018) focuses on human rights education (HRE) at the university level, with an emphasis on supporting undergraduate education for social justice and global citizenship. Panel participants include book editor Lindsey N. Kingston (Associate Professor of International Human Rights), as well as chapter authors Bill Barrett (Professor of Photography; “What Do You Think You’re Looking At? The Responsibility of the Gaze”), Bethany Keller (Assistant Director, Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs; “Supporting Inclusive Campus Communities: A Student Development Perspective”), Amanda Rosen (Associate Professor of International Relations; “Real World Survivor: Simulating Poverty to Teach Human Rights and Sustainable Development”), and Julie Setele (Assistant Professor of Sociology; “Education as Resistance: Teaching Critical Criminology to (Aspiring) Cops”).

The Webster alumni panel features:

Javier Cardenas MirandaJavier Cardenas Miranda (Political Science ’15) is the Manager of Development at the Covering House, a non-profit based in Saint Louis that provides refuge and restoration to young survivors of sex trafficking. Inspired by his father to pursue a career in service and politics, Cardenas Miranda interned for a U.S. Congressman, worked for the Nicaraguan Ministry of Foreign Relations, took on several roles in state and federal campaigns, and worked in Jefferson City as a District Director for a state legislator. 


Emily Fry MorrisonEmily Fry Morrison (Public Relations and International Human Rights ’14, Media Communications ’15) began working for the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Jefferson City shortly after graduation. Since joining the team, she has been involved in advocating for legislation benefitting Missourians with hearing loss, training law enforcement on the needs of the Deaf Community, coordinating Deaf awareness events, and launching a grant program that promotes the independence of individuals who are DeafBlind.


Melissa GeorgeMelissa George
(International Human Rights ’14) joined Teach for America following graduation, teaching Pre-K in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After two years of service, she remained with the Tulsa Public Schools for another school year. Her experiences there highlighted the challenges faced by educators in under-funded public districts. In 2018, she joined her fellow teachers to protest low pay, poor conditions, and pervasive inequalities within Oklahoma school systems.


Monica HensonMonica Henson (International Human Rights ’16) dedicated a year service with AmeriCorps, a voluntary civil society program supported by the U.S. government. She worked on development, marketing, and grant writing at Saint Louis College Prep, a local charter school that aims to get students to and through college. She is now a Development Associate at Teach for America, which works to change practices, structures, and policies to realize educational equity for all children.

Jordan PalmerJordan Palmer (International Human Rights and Photography ‘18) is a Community Support Specialist at the Independence Center, a community-based rehabilitation program for adults with severe and persistent mental illnesses. Previously, she documented the issue of homeless in Saint Louis as an AmeriCorps volunteer and interned with the Curbside Chronicle, a “street paper” benefitting people who are homeless in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


Keynote Speaker

Nancy FlowersNancy Flowers, a writer and consultant for human rights education, began her career as a high school English teacher. She has worked to develop Amnesty International’s education program and is a co-founder of Human Rights Educators USA, a national human rights education network. As a consultant to governments, nongovernmental organizations, and UN agencies, she has helped establish national and international networks of educators, develop materials, and train activists and professionals in many countries. She is the author and editor of articles and books on human rights education, most recently Towards a Just Society: The Personal Journeys of Human Rights Educators (Minnesota, 2016); Human Rights. YES! Action and Advocacy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2nd Edition, Minnesota, 2013), Acting for Indigenous Rights: Theatre to Change the World (Minnesota, 2013); and Local Action/ Global Change: A Handbook on Women’s Human Rights (2nd edition, Paradigm Press, 2008). She lives in Palo Alto, California.


Webster University's Year of International Human Rights began in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 2008. Since then, the YIHR has expanded to include a wide range of programming that includes guest lectures, film series, art performances and exhibits, common reading programs, and more. The YIHR culminates with the Annual Human Rights Conference, hosted at Webster's St. Louis, Missouri campus.