Human Rights Institute Spreads Awareness

The importance of human rights advocacy

Features > Human Rights Institute Spreads Awareness
Human Rights Institute Spreads Awareness

Human Rights Institute is located in the Nancy Thompson Library with the purpose of promoting awareness of human rights issues.

Petruce Jean-Charles, Editor

What is the Human Rights Institute?

The Human Rights Institute (HRI) is an organization that stresses the importance of awareness and activeness. Its goal is for Kean University to spread the awareness of human rights issues across the world and to develop initiatives to stop the injustice. Kean University has a long history and impressive record throughout New Jersey and the region for promoting awareness and prejudice reduction through our Holocaust Resource Center.

Janice Kroposky, the Director of Holocaust Resource Center went in depth about the education aspect of the HRI when asked about the strategies the HRI used to teach the students, "The HRI is the Human Rights Institute at Kean University and it is a part of the university community like any other department. It offers a wide variety of programming on many different human rights issues. The HRI at Kean University educates, conducts research and raises awareness and consciousness among students, faculty, the general public and decision-makers in government. It pursues its mission through curricular offerings, workshops, student organizations and major symposium and conferences on human rights issues."

The HRI wants students to understand that the world today is under a lot of oppression, bigotry, hatred and genocide. Every day on the news it is shown how different acts of violence can affect a country and its people and unfortunately, hateful words coupled with evil actions have produced horrors in all corners of the globe throughout history.

Kroposky also added that the library served as a great place to preserve the artwork that is shown, "The HRI is housed in a new addition to the Nancy Thompson Library. This facility provides the Institute with seminar rooms, offices, a conference center and state-of-the-art gallery that is used to highlight issues, artwork, films and publications related to human rights violations and victories around the world. I help facilitate and plan all the programmatic aspects of the institute. I also support students on campus who want to plan and execute human rights initiatives."

Every institution needs a development that provides knowledge and insight and that is what the HRI seeks to accomplish. The HRI wants to showcase different perspectives by using the Nancy Thompson Library as a shelter for the artwork and films shown.

When asked about its goal Kroposky said, "The HRI aims to broaden the university's longstanding efforts to promote the awareness of human rights issues and violations across the globe and to develop initiatives designed to help eradicate these atrocities and their root causes. The HRI is Kean University's call to action. As the leader in teacher education in New Jersey, Kean University is well positioned to make a significant impact through its network of educators in shaping the hearts and minds of the leaders of tomorrow. The HRI's groundbreaking work is recognized as a major regional and national resource for developing curricula, seminars and other materials aimed at promoting understanding and tolerance across ethnic, racial, religious and other barriers and inspiring action." 

The call to action influenced students to create the Humans Rights Club (HRC) where students participate and organize fundraisers, lectures and conferences on and off campus. With those events the HRC was able to raise more than $15,000 to purchase solar cookers for women in refugee camps in Darfur and the Congo, and sponsored events to raise awareness of child slavery and human trafficking worldwide. They also were a part of Haiti's earthquake relief efforts.

"The HRI was the vision and creation of President Dr. Farahi. In May 2010, the HRI formally opened its doors at a dedication ceremony featuring Kerry Kennedy, co-founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, one of the world's leading advocacy centers for ongoing education related to human rights issues and individual empowerment. For the opening, Ms. Kennedy also lent the HRI Gallery her powerful and inspiring creation, "Speak Truth to Power." The exhibit featured photographs of individual human rights champions from around the globe. Ms. Kennedy personally interviewed for the accompanying publication, "Speak Truth to Power" which ran through December 2010 and was viewed by thousands of students and visitors," recalled Kroposky.

When asked about the the courses students who are interested in human rights could take Kroposky listed ID 1800 Holocaust, Genocide and Modern Humanity, "Human rights are rights that justifiably belong to every person. At the HRI, we work with Anne Evans Estabrook Senior Human Rights Fellow John Prendergast to further promote the work we are already doing."

"We believe that Kean students should come to Kean and study what interests them and while they are here, figure out how to apply those interests for the greater good of humanity. We hope to inspire students to become up-standers and take action if there is a local or global issue that concerns them. We use art, programming and course work to achieve our vision and mission," explained Janice Kroposky.

If students have any questions or would like to be more involved with the HRI contact them at or call 908-737-4670.

about the author

Petruce Jean-Charles, Editor

Petruce Jean-Charles is a senior majoring in communication with a concentration in journalism. In Spring 2017 she joined The Cougar's Byte staff. She is goal-driven and dedicated to accomplishing her goals, where she wishes to work for successful companies like Huffington Post or The Washington Post. In her free time, she enjoys listening to different artists and watching new horror and thriller movies.