In August 2017, Gonzaga University School of Law launched its Center for Civil and Human Rights. The Center represents a critical component of Gonzaga’s century-long mission to educate the whole person to serve the public good. Made possible through the actions of a generous donor, the Center seeks to provide students, scholars, and community leaders with opportunities to explore and address issues relating to civil rights and civil liberties, social and criminal justice, public interest law, immigration, Indian law, and international human rights. The Center will pursue its mission through research, education, and community engagement.
The Center provides an institutional framework to promote the work of faculty and its partners in the area of civil and human rights. Throughout the academic year, the Center offers a series of workshops and presentations where faculty from Gonzaga and other institutions share ideas and works-in-progress on topics related to the Center’s goals. In addition, through its annual speaker series, the Center hosts a public forum with a nationally-recognized scholar to address the Gonzaga community about a subject consistent with the Center’s mission. The Center also provides development grants to support individual faculty research.
In addition to these efforts, each year, the Center sponsors a conference on the pursuit of justice, either on the Gonzaga campus in Spokane or on its campus in Florence, Italy. The conferences attract national and international audiences, including scholars, judges, practitioners, and activists with an interest in civil and human rights. This year, the Center will be co-sponsoring the 2nd annual Human Rights Symposium in Florence, Italy, in June 2018.
The Center also sponsors a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law and a jurist-in-residence. The inaugural VAP will begin in August 2018. The VAP will teach two courses, pursue a scholarly agenda, and assist the director with the development of the Center. The jurist-in-residence will offer a one-credit, mini course on a topic related to the Center during a one- or two-week period. The judge will also discuss her work and counsel students about career paths on both a formal and informal basis.
The Center builds on the social justice mission of Gonzaga Law School to emphasize civil and human rights as an integral component of students’ legal education. Gonzaga Law School has traditionally had a rich offering of classroom courses, clinic and externship opportunities, and extracurricular activities in areas related to the Center. With the establishment of the Center, students will be able to pursue a Certificate in Civil and Human Rights, beginning in fall 2018. The certificate requirements will include a minimum number of academic units in approved courses, a minimum number of hours in the clinic or in an externship, the completion of a satisfactory writing project, and a minimum number of public service hours. Students electing to enter this program receive a certificate at a special graduation ceremony with additional recognition at the Law School graduation.
Starting in fall 2018, the Center will also award a select number of scholarships to incoming students who have a demonstrated interest in areas related to the Center. Students receiving scholarships are expected to be social justice leaders and to pursue careers that further the mission of the Center.
As an interdisciplinary project, the Center also works with Gonzaga’s prelaw program and other university departments, as well as other institutions, to develop opportunities and raise awareness for undergraduate students about the ways in which the law can be used to promote the public good.
The Center seeks to engage members of the local, regional, and national community to address and understand issues of injustice, inequality, discrimination, and related concerns. The Center’s goals include expanding CLE offerings, partnering with community and legal organizations, and sponsoring events on topics consistent with the vision of the Center. As the Center develops, its goals also include expanding clinic and externship opportunities to provide direct assistance to members of the public, as well as engaging in high impact litigation and policy making.