The Social Practice of Human Rights Conference

University of Dayton – Human Rights Center


The Social Practice of Human Rights (SPHR), a biannual conference hosted by the Human Rights Center at the University of Dayton, provides a unique space for scholars and practitioners to engage in collaboration, dialogue, and critical analysis of local and global human rights advocacy.

The partnership between the Human Rights Center and OGR has included two SPHR conferences as well as OGR internships. Videos and articles from the conferences can be found below.


SPHR 2019 – Going Against the Grain


In October 2019, SPHR convened to address the urgency of developing threats with hope and vigor, sustainable movement-building, and disruptive methods—even when it means, to quote Pope Francis, “going against the grain.”

The conference was organized around three core themes: social and political transformation, technological transformation, and eco-economic transformation. The event featured research sessions, creative workshops by JustLabs, multidisciplinary panels, and keynote addresses by Opal Tometi, Anand Giridharadas, and Zeynep Tufecki.


Click to play any of the videos below.

Social and Political Transformation

Technological Transformation

Eco-economic Transformation

Power and Participation in Philanthropy

Innovations in Corporate Accountability



Human rights education and career opportunities for scientists could foster systemic change

By: Theresa Harris

Building a pipeline for human rights practitioners and scientists who want to work at the intersections of their fields would create opportunities for systemic ...

Innovation Labs and the future of human rights practice

By: Charity Ryerson
Español | العربية

For the majority of the world that lacks significant economic and political power, there is an urgent need to increase our capacity to innovate.

Rethinking multidisciplinarity within human rights education

By: Sarita Cargas & Kristina Eberbach

Through solid human rights education, academia can realize its potential to contribute to meaningful social change.

Educating the next generation of human rights practitioners

By: Shelley Inglis

What is needed to prepare a new generation of human rights practitioners to respond to the challenges of today and tomorrow? What does a new human rights practitioner ...


SPHR 2017 – Advocacy Challenges in the Age of Intolerance and Indifference

The 2017 SPHR conference explored the challenges to advocacy posed by racism, xenophobia, and other forms of extremism.

The conference was organized around three core themes: forced migration, peace, and modern-day slavery, and featured research panels, plenary dialogues, and keynote addresses from a variety of human rights researchers and practitioners.


Click to play any of the videos below.

SPHR17 Opening Remarks: Tony Talbott, HRC and William Dobson, NPR

SPHR17 Concluding Plenary: OpenGlobalRights

SPHR17 Plenary: Modern-day Slavery Advocacy in a Globalization of Indifference

SPHR17: Transitional Justice and Peace in Colombia: A Victim’s View - Nadiezhda Henriquez

SPHR17 Plenary: Peace Advocacy in a Globalization of Indifference

SPHR17: Migrants Under Attack in the US & the Roadmap towards Human Rights - Marilena Hincapie

SPHR17 Plenary: Forced Migration Advocacy in a Globalization of Indifference


Learning and unlearning the alchemy of human rights education

By: Shayna Plaut
Español | Français | العربية | Deutsch

As human rights educators, fostering more effective learning and advocacy is often more about how we teach than what we teach.

Fighting for indigenous rights in the Trump era

By: Tereza M. Szeghi

American Indians are actively resisting Trump’s efforts and working to achieve their civil and human rights, even as US federal and state governments work to erode ...

Reframing sexual harassment as gender-based violence: the value of a rights framework

By: Sarah Dávila-Ruhaak
Français | Español

When sexual harassment is reframed as gender-based violence and a human rights violation, rather than just “bad behavior”, it changes the possibilities around responsibility ...

Building up vs. trickling down: human rights in Southern Africa

By: Kristi Heather Kenyon
Español | Setswana | Zulu

Do we achieve human rights by enacting UN-sanctioned treaties at the legislative level, or at the grassroots level? The history and culture of each country may ...

Human Rights “Light”: using rhetoric to unite disparate disciplines

By: Tony Talbott
العربية | Español | Français

The use of superficial human rights rhetoric across varied issue areas is not a “dumbing down” of a complicated legal concept—rather, it will expand the ranks of ...

Research offers tough love to improve human rights practices

By: Joel R. Pruce
Français | العربية | Español

In human rights work, practicing the same habits does not guarantee improvement over time.

Tailoring the message: How the political left and right think differently about human rights

By: Joe Braun & Stephen Arves

Effectively motivating people to care about human rights depends largely on where they fall on the political spectrum.

Why engaging with perpetrators isn’t possible in Iran (yet)

By: Mahmood Monshipouri

Engagement with Iranian human rights perpetrators might help someday, but in the current political climate it’s simply not possible.

Scientists and engineers as partners in protecting human rights

By: Theresa Harris

Growing interest in pro bono service among scientists and engineers is generating new opportunities for human rights organizations.

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