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UND center launches a ‘human rights blog for the Northern Plains'

Posted on 1/18/2013

Clarinda Solberg
The University of North Dakota Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies (CHRGS) has started a new project on its website -- a blog by former CHRGS intern Clarinda Solberg devoted to local and international human rights issues.

Solberg, who currently works as the Youth Programming Coordinator for La Cruz Community Center in St. Cloud Minn., will be writing about human rights-focused themes, especially with regional implications.

"I really appreciated the opportunity to work on human rights as a CHRGS intern and I wanted to continue to do something with the Center," said Solberg, who graduated from UND last spring with a degree in international studies, with a focus on African Studies. "At the same time, I was excited about covering local issues and personalities with a human rights theme."

Titled "The Northern Plains Human Rights Blog," it will also cover international issues that have local resonance.

"We have people from all over the world living in this region," said CHRGS Director and UND Law Professor Gregory Gordon. "What happens overseas often impacts them and we will now have a forum to discuss those issues."

The blog will also feature stories about local human rights organizations and activists, including UND student organizations, such as the local Amnesty International branch, regional non-profit groups, such as the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition and God's Children, and committed individuals, such as UND anthropology professor Marcia Mikulak, who works with victims of human rights violations in Brazil.

The mission of CHRGS is to increase understanding of the history and issues relating to genocide and other violations of human rights with the intent of preventing such atrocities in the future and advancing human rights on all levels. This blog will be an important new medium through which to achieve that goal. It will also allow the Center to publicize its other activities, which include bringing visiting scholars to campus, organizing classes, discussion forums and cultural events on campus, collecting, preserving and making available important human rights-related historical documents, assisting other human rights organizations and projects and serving as a regional liaison and clearinghouse for human rights issues and information.

The new human rights blog comes on the heels of another successful CHRGS project in which the center launched the first-of-its-kind online human rights symposium. The symposium featured papers, thoughts and responses from respected human rights scholars and thinkers in the Red River Valley - at UND and North Dakota State - and beyond. Everything was posted online and the public also was encouraged to participate. This first symposium centered on "Contemporary Issues in LGBT Rights." More online symposia are expected to be held in the future.

The new blog and online symposia are part of efforts by CHRGS to expand its programming to a wider online public.

Earlier in the academic year, the CHRGS welcomed Visiting Fellow and an expert on the conflict in Syria Benjamin Brockman-Hawe, of New York's Bosman Law Firm. During his stay at UND, Brockman-Hawe took part in a week's worth of lectures, panels and other discussions on a myriad human rights topics.

The recent activities hosted and sponsored by CHRGS only add to its successful track record of bringing quality and informative perspectives on human rights issues past and present, to the UND campus and greater Grand Forks community. For example, in 2010, CHRGS hosted Sandra Schulberg, acclaimed documentarian and daughter of the "Nuremeberg" trials filmmaker, Stuart Schulberg. She came to UND to present a restored version of her father's famed and celebrated film. Her visit was co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC).

CHRGS and JCRC teamed up before in 2008 to bring Kristallnacht survivor Dr. Fred Lyon to Grand Forks to share his harrowing first-hand accounts of Nazi persecution, his father's imprisonment in a concentration camp and his family's escape from Nazi Germany.In 2009, CHRGS brought Auschwitz survivor Martin Weiss to campus to recount first-hand the horrors of the Nazi "Final Solution."

Also, in 2009, CHRGS brought "Camp Darfur" to the UND campus. The camp was a simulation of a Darfuri refugee camp. The following year, the center hosted Roxana Saberi, a native of Fargo and former North Dakota journalist who was held captive for many months by the government in Iran for trumped up charges of espionage.


UND Associate Professor of Law Gregory S. Gordon, director, Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies, 701.777.2262, or at

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