Symposium will explore U.S. role promoting human rights, with a keynote speech by Human Rights First president Michael Posner. Saturday, October 11, 2008

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — Michael Posner, president of Human Rights First, will keynote the symposium “In Small Places Close to Home: Americans Struggle for Human Rights," on Saturday, October 11, 1:00-4:00pm, in the second floor auditorium of Students’ Building. A panel discussion will follow, moderated by international relations scholar M. Glen Johnson, a professor emeritus of political science at Vassar. The Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College (AAVC) will host this event, which is free and open to the public.

The symposium will take up several questions to explore the U.S. role in promoting human rights, and to jointly commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Eleanor Roosevelt’s birthday. What is America’s leadership role in developing a post-World War II human rights regime? Does the U.S. need to reassert its leadership role by improving the example it sets? Are we “practicing what we preach”?

The panel discussion will include Vassar alumnae Karin Deutsch Karlekar, senior researcher and managing editor at Freedom House, Grisela Jackson, a community organizer and activist in New Orleans, and Ann Northrop, a longtime journalist and activist who co-hosts the national weekly TV news show Gay USA. The Rev. Richard Witt, Executive Director of the Poughkeepsie-based organization Rural and Migrant Ministries, and Joseph Nevins, an associate professor of geography at Vassar, will also participate.

Michael Posner has been at the forefront of the international human rights movement for nearly 30 years. He has helped New York-based Human Rights First play a leadership role in the areas of refugee protection, advancing a rights-based approach to national security, challenging crimes against humanity, and combating discrimination. Posner has testified dozens of times before the U.S. Congress, and he is a frequent public commentator, whose opinion essays have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and many other outlets.

People with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, September 23, 2008