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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Colombian and Minnesotan students use technology to spark international dialogue on human rights

unnamed-1.jpgTechnological advances have made communicating across borders incredibly easily--as simple as logging on through email and clicking that strange little green button resembling a video recorder. With such tools at our fingertips, we have unprecedented potential for strengthening human rights networks that transcend spacial and political obstacles. Human rights students at the University of Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia, and at the University of Minnesota have initiated a collaborative project that looks to take advantage of the new possibilities presented through innovations in communication technology. These young individuals seek to spark international dialogue among university students surrounding human rights issues and philosophy, which will supplement their human rights classes and add rich dimension to their studies. Such conversation provides an opportunity to gain genuine multicultural understanding of social justice issues, and to create a fortified and united global student body, a body well-suited for addressing the extremely powerful global forces shaping injustice, poverty, and violence across the world today.

On April 25th, 2014, ten students met via Google Hangout to begin an intercultural student conversation on human rights. These students discussed their interests and backgrounds, and imagined what new possibilities could be achieved through fortifying non-institutionalized, international connections between young human rights activists. They shared their frustrations with the limitations of existing legal mechanisms and with the current inaccessibility of human rights discourse to those of low socioeconomic status. They also discussed celebratory elements of international human rights, stressing the potential efficacy that such rights could gain through the spread of interdisciplinary and multi-directional approaches--through building horizontal (i.e. characterized by equitable distribution of power and participation) human rights networks across classes, cultures, races, disciplines, and ideologies.
The students look forward to beginning regular meetings, and are excited to continue engaging in the dynamic exchange of ideas. They hope to build an increasing student base at their universities, and aspire to incorporate more schools as time goes on. As a generation quite distinctly characterized by advances in technology, these students wish to harness the networking power offered through this progress to usher in a new era of social justice activism. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Anna Meteyer at metey001@umn.edu