Center for Human Rights

Inspiring Human Rights

People walking

Mission

The Center’s mission is to instill in students an understanding of human rights as central to moral conduct and ethical decisions in their personal lives, in their careers and in the public arena.

In fulfillment of its mission, the Center:

  • Promotes human rights globally and locally through public advocacy, service and education;
  • Provides practical experience for students through internships, task forces and research; and
  • Advances scholarship in the study of human rights, Holocaust history and genocide studies.

Programs

The Center’s educational program has as its core a sequence of courses designed to enable students to understand the causes and lessons of the Holocaust and contemporary human rights abuses and genocide.

The Center’s programs offer students the opportunity to work with and gain exposure to scholars, activists, advocates, business and political leaders in four broad areas:

  • Student internships and projects in leading human rights and Holocaust organizations
  • Academic study and coursework
  • Academic research and publication
  • Conferences and other events

The Center’s human rights internships support students to work as interns in leading human rights, genocide and Holocaust organizations.

Students gain practical experience of the ways in which knowledge, political and economic policies, and leadership must be combined to understand and overcome human rights abuses and genocide in today’s world.

The Center also supports course work and research in these fields by faculty and students and brings leading human rights and Holocaust specialists to the campus to speak with students and the larger community.

History

Claremont McKenna College’s mission is to provide students with a superior liberal arts education that prepares them for leadership in business, the professions, and government. In keeping with these goals, CMC began to support teaching and research about the Holocaust in the early 1970s, and launched the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights in March 2003, placing the College among the forerunners in the field of Holocaust Studies. The name of the center was changed in May 2009 to The Center for Human Rights.

Founding donor Leigh Crawford ’94 made possible the establishment of the Center in March 2003. Professor John Roth, who served through 2006, was the Center’s founding director. Professor Jonathan Petropoulos, initially the Center’s associate director, succeeded Roth from 2007-2008. Professor Edward Haley directed the Center from 2008-2014.

From the very beginning, through its programs of teaching, visiting scholars, academic travel, internships, and service, the Center has sought to enable students to understand the causes and legacy of the Holocaust and to develop the ethical commitments and leadership qualities necessary to prevent and overcome human rights abuses in today’s world.

The Center's human rights initiatives led by students include a role in founding and developing Students Against Genocide, a nation-wide effort aimed at stopping genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and a mission to provide relief to residents of New Orleans following the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. Other initiatives supported by the Center include summer human rights internships for students, the Center’s student-led Human Rights Task Forces, and funding for student-faculty research, visiting scholars, and speakers.

Students Against Genocide (SAG)

With support from the Center, Students Against Genocide (SAG) was created in the fall of 2004 to raise awareness about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur, a western region of Sudan. Led by a committee of students at CMC, SAG produced an extensive research report on the genocide in Darfur titled "From Kigali to Khartoum: Genocide in Western Sudan." The paper, which explores the similarities between the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and that in Darfur, is available here on the SAG website. SAG also distributed fliers on campus and to student groups at other colleges. In January of 2005, the group traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with policymakers and experts regarding the situation in Sudan. The group met with more than 20 Congressional offices, with Jerry Fowler, director of the Committee on Conscience, and with Charles Snyder, the senior expert on Sudan at the State Department. In cooperation with other student groups at the Claremont Colleges, SAG facilitated the sales of thousands of "Stop Genocide in Sudan" t-shirts to students and activists around the world. The shirts, designed by CMC student Keara Duggan, are available online. SAG is supported by CMC's Holocaust Center and its Student Advisory Committee.