This article is about IJDH Executive Director, Brian Concannon who recently taught a one-credit course at Whitman College on the topic of human rights advocacy. Although he was initially worried that that his students would not be engaged in the subject area, his fears proved to be wrong. Brian’s students all had glowing reviews about both him and his course.
Brian’s students found his work with Haiti to be fascinating. IJDH’s litigation against the UN for introducing cholera to Haiti and the work that IJDH does with local grassroots movements showed the class that Brian was not simply some “white man wrapped up in a white saviour complex.” In fact, one of Brian’s main takeaways for his students was to think critically about NGOs and humanitarian aid: While giving assistance to countries in need is well-intentioned and charitable, individuals need to think about the sustainability of the project. Although short term solutions seem tempting, it is much more important to use aid towards solutions that do not cripple a country in the long term.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.
First, Do No Harm
Gillian Frew Whitman College
May 25th, 2016
It was already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti six years ago. At Whitman, a workshop on human rights advocacy raises tough questions about aid accountability.
When lawyer and activist Brian Concannon arrived on campus earlier this year to lead a one-credit course called Human Rights Advocacy: How and Why, it felt like familiar terrain for him. A graduate of Middlebury College and Georgetown Law who currently serves as executive director of the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), Concannon had little teaching experience to speak of—yet as far as the Socratic ethos of the liberal arts is concerned, he fit right in.
“One of the things that I was a bit worried about coming in was whether students would be engaged in the discussions, and what I’d have to do to get everybody involved,” said Concannon, whose stay was sponsored by the O’Donnell Visiting Educators program, with support from the Ashton J. and Virginia Graham O’Donnell Endowed Chair in Global Studies Endowment.
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