kean speaker john prendergastUNION, N.J. — Acclaimed international human rights advocate and best-selling author John Prendergast, will once again lend his expertise in human rights advocacy to help expand the work of Kean's Human Rights Institute from Dec. 1-3, 2015. Through a series of free campus lectures, workshops and discussions, Prendergast will explore the many ways that students across all disciplines can contribute to the worldwide peace efforts.

"We are excited to bring John Prendergast, Kean's Anne Evans Estabrook Human Rights Senior Fellow, back to campus to inspire more students to do what they can to advocate and act to improve the world's most deplorable human rights situations," said Elizabeth Turchi, director of the Institute. "His ongoing work in Africa and with the Enough Project is a testament to the power and importance of engaging every student in human rights work."

 

Prendergast’s first focus is connecting the arts with human rights. On Tuesday, Dec. 1, he will visit with students from Kean's arts education and design programs to discuss the ways that art provides a platform for human expression and healing. He will also lead a discussion following the screening of the documentary film "After Kony-Staging Hope," that tells the story of therapeutic theatre program in war-torn Northern Uganda, at the Human Rights Institute Gallery at 5:30 p.m.

"It is in the spirit of recognizing art as a tool for the recovery of the human spirit, and Kean's longstanding commitment to the preservation of art education and advancement of human rights, that we open our minds to the potential of all art forms to be catalysts for change," said Joseph Amorino, program coordinator for Kean's art education program.

An advocate for human rights and peace in Africa since the late 1980s and co-founder of the Enough Project, Prendergast has pursued two paths to making an impact: locally through being a mentor and "Big Brother" to kids whose fathers are absent, and globally through his work for human rights in Africa. He will intersperse personal stories of Africa, celebrities, and inspiration of how change can happen as he shares his "10 building blocks to making a difference” with nearly 40 students from South Plainfield High School on Dec. 2. He will then meet with students from Kean's Holocaust, Genocide and Modern Humanity course to explore the anti-atrocities movement. At 6 p.m. in the Human Rights Institute Gallery, Prendergast will be joined by Adeeb Yousef, president of the World Peace and Reconciliation organization who hails from the village of Guldo in Darfur, to discuss peace in Sudan.

During the last day of his visit, on Dec. 3, Prendergast will meet with a group of Kean University student leaders to lay the groundwork for a collaborative writing project.

Prendergast's fall residency at Kean is part of his ongoing relationship with the University. He was the keynote speaker at the University’s annual Human Rights conference in 2013, when he received the Outstanding International Human Rights Advocate award. Four years earlier, he was a special guest of honor at a fundraising gala on Ellis Island celebrating the launch the newly founded Human Rights Institute at Kean University.

Photo caption: John Prendergast, Kean University's Anne Evans Estabrook Human Rights Senior Fellow, addresses students on ways to affect change.