The central importance of the dignity and experiences of women will be the focus of the third annual Forum on Human Rights at Virginia Tech on Friday, Feb.28. 

Titled “(En)Gendering Human Rights,” the free public event will present undergraduate and graduate research by students from Virginia Tech and other universities across the nation.

David Brunsma, sociology professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, which is presenting the forum, worked with three colleagues to organize it: Marian Mollin, associate professor of history; Katharine Cross, instructor of religion and culture, and political science; and Katrina Powell, associate professor of English and director of Women’s and Gender Studies.

“I hope people will come out and support these students, who are doing really important and passionate research on human rights," said Brunsma. The forum is a great space to hear interdisciplinary student research and engage with other faculty, students, and community members who wish to understand how to create a better world for all.”  

The forum will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown on campus.

The keynote speaker will be Clair Apodaca, associate professor of political science at Virginia Tech and author of two books and more than a dozen articles on global human rights. With a broad background in international relations, Apodaca has focused her research on human rights and security, specifically on rights violations and how they threaten world peace as well as the wellbeing of individuals and nations.

Apodaca’s keynote address, titled “An Indirect Casualty: Arms Transfers and Women’s Human Rights,” will be during the lunch session from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Other presentations will be

  • “The State and (En)Gendering Human Rights” (8:30-9:45 a.m.);
  • “Cultures and Structures of Gender Violence” (10-11:15 a.m.);
  • “Studies in Human Rights” (1-2:15 p.m.);
  • “(En)Gendering Human Rights Globally” (2:30-3:45 p.m.); and
  • “Human Rights at the Intersections” (4–5:15 p.m.).

Virginia Tech departments and programs cosponsoring the forum are foreign languages and literatures; the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention; sociology; women’s and gender studies; history; American Indian studies; the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment; international studies; the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought; the Office for Diversity and Inclusion; and religion and culture.

Besides graduate and undergraduate students from those areas, the forum will feature presenters from Southern Methodist, James Madison, Oklahoma State, and Christopher Newport universities, the University of Connecticut, Roanoke College, and the University of Pennsylvania.