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Friday, June 6, 2014

Scholar Gabriel Gómez visits the U through the UMN - Antioquia Human Rights Partnership

10394508_504850862977448_1399930758647928571_n.jpgGabriel Gómez is a professor at the University of Antioquia (U de A) whose invaluable insight and leadership has been an important contribution to the University of Minnesota - Antioquia Human Rights Law Partnership. Learn more about the partnership. In the dynamic international collaboration to develop human rights curriculum, Gabriel's input has enriched the conversation and the project as a whole through his focus on network-building, sustainability, and the enhancement of interdisciplinary human rights study.

Gabriel has been involved with the project since its inception, as he participated in the initial conversations with USAID evaluating the capacities of human rights law curriculum in different areas of Colombia, which assessed a variety of elements such as available human rights courses, resources, and faculty in order to map Colombian universities' needs relating to human rights. He was thrilled to discover that the University of Minnesota had been chosen as the American institution to be partnered with the Antioquia schools, as he was familiar with several UMN faculty and identified many similarities between U de A and the University of Minnesota.

Throughout the partnership's subsequent development, Gabriel has taken a "behind-the-scenes" role in supporting its initiatives. He has provided critical support for the clinic programs at U de A and was curious to know more about how legal clinics functioned in the U.S., so that expertise might be shared between members of the partnership. Recently, he was chosen to travel to the United States to work alongside University of Minnesota faculty and staff, observe the operation of human rights legal clinics and curriculum at the U of M, share his research at leading human rights conferences, and strengthen human rights networks across the partnership.

While in Minnesota, Gabriel participated in the Law and Society conference--a conference that brings together thousands of legal scholars and includes hundreds of panels to discuss issues of critical concern--among other clinics and workshops. However, his overarching aspirations in traveling to the University of Minnesota through the partnership were to build relationships between human rights professors and to fortify U.S. - Colombia human rights networks. He views such networks as key to the project's sustainability--as the principle element that will allow the initiatives started under the partnership to further develop and expand following the end of USAID and HED involvement. These networks allow for the dynamic exchange of information regarding how programs work in different social contexts, facilitating the sharing of ideas, wisdom and advice from multiple directions in order to improve the human rights efforts at all the universities involved in the project. Gabriel feels that some of the greatest benefits of the project thus far have been the increased interaction and solidarity among the universities in Antioquia, as well as the heightened emphasis on interdisciplinary and critical approaches as necessary supplements to human rights legal clinics. He looks forward with excitement to what the partnership may accomplish in the future.

The Human Rights Program feels honored to have hosted such a distinguished and dedicated human rights advocate and scholar as Gabriel, and wishes him safe travels on his return home to Medellín on June 5th. We are so very grateful for all he has contributed during his time here, and are thrilled to continue his mission of network-building among human rights actors at the U of M and with our partners abroad.

Pictured in the photo from the left is Professor Barbara Frey, Diana Quintero, Gabriel Gómez, Zeller Alvarez Urrego, and Claire Leslie Johnson.

Written by Anna Meteyer