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Joseph Loundy Human Rights Project

In 2008, with an initial $100,000 gift from alumnus Joseph Loundy, Roosevelt University established the Joseph Loundy Human Rights Project, a program unique in the US, in which students conduct comparative research on the promotion of human rights in the US and abroad. They then use that research to generate advocacy strategies for promoting human rights and social justice in Chicago.

Students engage in a series of seminars with national and local leaders in the year's designated advocacy area, which are also open to the public and the larger Roosevelt Community and then travel abroad for analogous seminars with human rights advocates and scholars in another country.  The students will use this comparative experience to analyze what has worked where, and why, and thus to predict the most likely effective solutions here in Chicago. Summer internships will allow students to work on implementing their proposals, according to Barratt.

The Loundy Human Rights Project typifies Roosevelt’s mission of social justice. Students engaged in transformational learning often see the world in new ways and fundamentally change as people."

"We will address problems that not only are present in a variety of cities across the globe, but that also provide students an opportunity to have a visible effect on the communities around them," said Bethany Barratt, Associate Professor of Political Science, who directs the project.

Offering Unparalleled Human Rights Research and Advocacy Opportunities for Students

The Loundy Human Rights Project is the only one of its kind in the country offering students a regular annual international human rights research experience, grounded in a firm foundation of Chicago-specific case studies.

  • On average, more than half of students completing the Loundy Project's comparative course intend to attend graduate school or law school (compared with a third on average at the outset of the course)
  • A quarter of our students travel outside the US for the first time with the Project
  • More than half our students began a human rights related internship during (or within the first six months) of being enrolled in the Loundy Human Rights Project's signature course
  • A third of our alums go on to graduate school or law school (significantly higher than the Roosevelt average)

Focus 2010-13: Miscarriages of Justice and Wrongful Convictions

As the Illinois legislature was poised to consider a repeal of the death penalty, spurred on in large part by the tireless work of the Chicago- area projects, such as Northwestern's Medill Innocence Project, its Center on Wrongful Convictions, and Loyola's Life After Innoncence Project, we took up investigating the points in the criminal justice system where the process fails and innocent people are sent to jail or put to death. The US and UK have been the pioneers for innocence projects. Results are measured one life at a time, but this may be the most important metric of all.  We travelled to London in Fall 2010 and Fall 2011, and are partnering with key actors locally, including the Chicago Innocence Project, and the Justice Council of Northwestern Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions.  In addition, the Project has become a crucible for discussion of the most important recent legal and scientific developments in the field, attracting the people whose research and advocacy is shaping the field to our annual Wrongful Convictions Distinguished Speaker Series. In Fall 2011 we welcomed memory expert Elizabeth Loftus of UC Irvine, pioneering investigative reporter Rob Warden of Northwestern Law School's Bluhm Legal Clinic Center on Wrongful Convictions, forensic experts Jay Koehler  and Steve Drizin, also of Northwestern Law School's Bluhm Legal Clinic, and wrongly convicted individuals like Randy Steidl and Delbert Tibbs who have now become advocates for justice system reform.  In 2012 we have hosted groundbreaking investigative reporter and author John Conroy,  People's Law Office partner Joey Mogul, and Chicago police torture survivor Darrell Cannon. We also hosted Josh Tepfer of Northwestern Law School's Center on the Wrongful Conviction of Youth, memory expert Geoff Loftus from the University of Washington, and forensic psychologist Richard Leo of the University of San Francisco.  

This fall, 2013, we look forward to hosting Karen Daniels of Northwestern Law School's Center on Wrongful Convictions, recent exoneree Nicole Harris, University of Pittsburgh professor David Harris, eyewitness misidentification expert Penny Beerntsen, former prosecutor Robert Milan, and Rob Warden, executive director of Northwestern's Center on Wrongful Convictions. 

Others Fighting The Good Fight:

Doing work in this area? We'd love to know about it!
Please email Dr. Bethany Barratt,

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