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Recognize International Human Rights Day by Supporting the Work of the JMC Human Rights Lab

December 10, 2021

Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10th — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being - regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world. 

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. [...] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Technology like the internet and satellite imagery has made our world smaller. The students in the JMC Human Rights Lab are able to conduct open-source research that looks in small places, close to homes around the world from computer screens in Case Hall and on the MSU campus. Students work to give meaning to universal human rights by taking actions that bring violations into the light and more justice into our world.

 “Everyone deserves a chance at a safe, happy and prosperous life. Thus, the mission to value human rights is not a political stance but a humanitarian issue. We all must do what we can to bring justice and peace to the communities and people who need it most.” – Sophia Colvin JMC Class of 2022

 The JMC Human Rights Lab is one of the few research and learning opportunities for undergraduate students to build skills in emerging technologies for investigating policy-relevant international human rights violations and political violence.  For the past few years, under the supervision of Professor Robert Brathwaite, 15-20 students have worked five hours per week to develop research skills in:

  • Data Visualization
  • Database Construction & Management
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Open-Source Research
  • Remote Sensing
  • Machine Learning

 “Access to satellite imagery is extremely beneficial for our work to establishing patterns of activity in locations of interest. Experience with GIS software is a great skill to have for careers in public affairs and national security.” – Carly Sandstrom JMC Class of 2023

 Research focus has targeted several regions throughout the world:

  • Human Rights & Violations in Libya
  • Political Violence in Northern Nigeria

“Working on cases of human rights violations for organizations around the world provides students in the lab a unique opportunity to gain insight into the lived experiences of others. By filing our reports with international organizations, students are able to play a part in helping to protect the core rights of humans globally.” – Jackie Genaw JMC Class of 2022

Holistic reports and databases are created and sent to relevant human rights organizations. Throughout the entire process of researching, information-gathering and reporting, JMC students constantly collaborate and build connections to strengthen teamwork skills, facilitating the development of competencies for careers in open-source research, human rights investigations, and national security-related fields.

To support the work of these Madison students and the Human Rights Lab, please visit here to learn more and make your most generous gift.

For questions about your contributions to JMC and MSU and to learn how you can make a difference, please contact Rocky Beckett at 517-432-2117 or beckettr@msu.edu.