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Released May 10, 2005

NEW HUMAN RIGHTS MINOR
TO BE OFFERED AT SOUTHERN MISS THIS FALL
By Chinika Hood

HATTIESBURG With the treatment of prisoners of war, gay and women’s rights, and racism beingprominent issues in society, many people feel compelled to gain a better understanding of their civil and human rights.

That trend can be found on The University of Southern Mississippi’s campus. Students’ hunger for more knowledge has prompted the addition of a human rights minor and future Center for Human Rights and Civil Liberties. A minor is a secondary field of specialization for which 18 semester hours of credit (usually six courses) are required.

The program, scheduled to be unveiled this fall, will provide students with the opportunity to learn about domestic and international issues related to civil rights and provide hands-on experience via internships in the United States and abroad.

“I believe the unique thing about this minor is its ability to demonstrate the critical role of human rights and liberties to students in all majors,” said appointed program Co-director Dr. Denise von Herrmann, associate dean of Southern Miss’ College of Arts and Letters.

“Students will learn about the rights of people in all societies, about attempts to protect those rights, and about some of the impacts that accrue to societies where such rights are not protected.”

According to von Herrmann, students will also tackle issues of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomics, religious equality, and policy impacts such as income inequalities and educational attainment—subject matters which are of keen interest to Southern Miss junior Latoya Mitchell.

“I think it will be a great opportunity, especially for those who are majoring in social work,” commented Mitchell. “Our field requires us advocating for human rights, and this (minor) will be a good opportunity to expand people’s horizons about everybody’s rights in general.”

It was students like Mitchell who were the driving force behind the project, said political science assistant professor Bob Press, who spearheaded the campaign for the new minor after working in Africa as a foreign correspondent.

Press said students have played a major role in developing the Center for Human Rights and Civil Liberties since the concept was first discussed in the spring of 2004. He said the most active students associated with the center early on requested a minor as a way to provide them marketable credit for their studies in the area of human rights.

Upon their requests, a seven-member committee—comprised of faculty and staff—was formed to make the minor a reality.

Led by history department Chair Chuck Bolton, the committee’s first steps involved getting approval from the College Council of the College of Liberal Arts and Letters and Southern Miss Academic Council. They approved it “overwhelmingly” said Press. Provost Jay Grimes also gave thumbs up to the minor.

“All deserve credit for their support of the center and the minor, which provides students a way to translate classroom knowledge into action in a variety of careers in the public and private sector,” said Press.

“Here at home, the issue of human rights is not only historic but a topic of contemporary importance for many,” he said. “This (human rights minor) can involve creative, constructive dialogues and practical projects that help people exercise their rights and freedom.”

For more information on the human rights minor and its requirements, please contact Denise von Herrmann at (601) 266-4315 or advisor Kate Green at (601) 266-5834.

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July 20, 2005 4:00 PM