UO students will travel to Oxford to study conflict resolution

For the third year in a row, a small group of University of Oregon undergraduates and graduate students will travel to the University of Oxford during spring break for a weeklong workshop on global justice and human rights.

But before they go, the students will hear from an international human rights expert who will be on campus to talk about human rights and terrorism. The talk, by Oxford scholar Hugo Slim, is open to the public and takes place Tuesday, Jan. 27.

Both the talk and the trip to England are part of the UO’s program in conflict and dispute resolution, and undergraduates who make the trip are all in the Clark Honors College. The 18 students selected to participate in the workshop this year make the trip at no cost, thanks to a gifts to the UO by David Stern and Steve Raymund.

“The University of Oregon is the only school — other than Stanford University — that has this kind of relationship with Oxford west of the Mississippi,” said program leader Cheyney Ryan, a professor emeritus at the UO and senior fellow at the University of Oxford. “This is an absolutely unique opportunity for the University of Oregon.”

The workshop this year will focus on the Syrian civil war, a topic continued from the previous year. UO students prepare for the trip with a six-week curriculum of readings on human rights and international conflict. Each week, students are assigned a new reading intended to prepare them for the trip and the structure of the workshop.

“When we all meet, it’s a collection of equal scholars,” Shashank Chauhan, a law and conflict resolution student who participated in the program last year, said of the workshop. “It is the ideal educational environment; you’re there to truly learn the material and to apply it as best you can.”

While the workshop includes many seminars, lectures and readings, it is not intended to be a passive learning experience. Cultivated by scholars and conflict experts, the program allows students to understand real-world problems and how to apply different solutions on various levels through collaboration with people who have direct experience in such conflict.

“It’s not a study abroad, it’s not designed that way; it’s meant to be hands-on interaction with people who have experience doing the work,” said Carmaleta Aufderheide, a master’s student in conflict resolution who attended the 2014 workshop. “For me, it wasn’t just an opportunity to look at international peace work; it was a responsibility to bring that home on a domestic level.”

Kicking off the program this year is a visit from Oxford human rights expert Hugo Slim, who will be lecturing on human rights in the age of terrorism. Slim has spent many years on the frontlines of various conflicts around the globe and is now a leading scholar in humanitarian ethics.

“He’ll be speaking about something that is pertinent in day-to-day news,” Chauhan said. “It’ll be exciting to hear him talk about this very important topic, knowing his background and years of practical and academic experience.”

This is the second year in a row that Slim has been able to visit the UO to lecture about global human rights. This year, his visit coincides directly with the beginning of the Oxford-bound students’ preparatory course.

His talk, which is free and open to everyone, will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. in the Room 175 of the Knight Law Center.

—By Nathaniel Brown, Public Affairs Communications