Boise State human rights initiative starts to ramp up

Boise State University hopes to offer a certificate in human rights studies by 2019 — with a minor or possibly a major to follow.

And Boise State’s new Marilyn Shuler Human Rights Initiative should look to collaborate with other Idaho universities, Director Jill Gill said Thursday.

Gill, a Boise State professor specializing in history, is ramping up the human rights initiative. She offered an update during a City Club of Boise forum Thursday.

The human rights certificate will be something of a mini-minor, a six- to nine-credit concentration. But human rights courses are already up and running, Gill said.

Other universities already offer human rights majors or minors or host human rights institutes, but they are uncommon in the Northwest. With that in mind, Gill said, Boise State, the University of Idaho and Idaho State University should collaborate on the human rights program, Gill said.

Boise State’s human rights initiative, announced earlier this year, is named for Shuler, a prominent Boise human rights activist who died in February.

During her hour-long talk, Gill also spoke about a range of human rights issues — including campus free speech. Responding to an audience question, Gill said she would be inclined to allow a white nationalist to speak on campus.

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“Democracies work best when you have a marketplace of ideas, including bad ideas,” she said.

Boise State Public Radio will rebroadcast Thursday’s forum at 8 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Disclosure: As chair of the City Club’s forums committee, I was involved in organizing Thursday’s forum.

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