Washington D.C. Human Rights Seminar transforms students

Safaa in Washington D.C. during the D.C. Seminar trip
Safaa in Washington D.C. during the D.C. Seminar trip

As UW Bothell’s longest running experiential learning program, the Washington D.C. Human Rights Seminar has catalyzed hundreds of students to seek justice. Whether personally or professionally, locally or globally, D.C. students become proponents of social change and human dignity.

Each year, roughly 20 students travel to our nation’s capital to engage with human rights policy at national and international levels. Students spend six demanding days taking part in intensive seminars and briefings with institutions and policy makers across the political spectrum. Prior to leaving, each student proposes a research project centered on a specific international human rights violation. They meet with stakeholders as researchers, not students, As IAS faculty leader Ron Krabill puts it, “We’ve developed a strong reputation for being well-prepared and doing serious work.”

Last fall, seven students received scholarships to support their participation. This record number of scholarships was achieved in large part by the IAS Advisory Board, who recognize the educational impact of this program, and have made it their mission to raise support for the Washington D.C. Travel Assistance Fund.

Student recipients shared their gratitude and how the seminar has affected their thinking and career plans. Here’s what they had to say:

“I see myself continuing onto graduate school for policy studies or law school for civil rights law.  I am grateful for the opportunity to join this intense and informative seminar. I have great gratitude for the people who made it possible for me to travel to Washington D.C. and lifted a great fiscal barrier for me in my education.”

“I’ll truly treasure my experiences and memories from the seminar for the rest of my life, as it was undoubtedly the highlight of my college career. I feel so immensely grateful to have been able to take part in it, still. I think that what I’ll cherish most from the seminar is being surrounded by so many other passionate individuals with activist mindsets - those who truly understood the importance of being informed, aware and unrelenting in the fight for equity.”

“The D.C. seminar made me realize that one of the most important aspects in understanding the field of human rights is about meeting people where they’re at. All too often, if someone doesn’t agree with some ones political stance, they discredit everything they say. People will always have different stances on polices and politics and that’s okay.”

“I am actually moving to Washington D.C. after I graduate in June. I am hoping to work at a research institute such as Brookings or Cato. I am an economics minor, and one of the fascinating things about this class was that many of the research institutes we talked to kept referencing economic sanctions as a successful way to solve human rights dilemmas.” 

“My experience during the D.C. Human Rights Seminar completely altered my understanding of world politics and social change. As someone who tries to be as socially conscious as possible, I gained such indispensable and invaluable insight on crises happening in our world right now - and what we can each do, on the individual level, to spark discussion about social change and human rights awareness. The variety of speakers we met during the seminar solidified that fact, showing us that activism can happen in so many different ways - we just need to be passionate and keep fighting.”