Published May 25, 2017
MASHANTUCKET, CONNECTICUT— Stemming from the Thomas J. Dodd Center’s human rights education initiative, a new partnership was established between University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education and the Upstander Project with the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. The partnership is called the Upstander Academy, which formally came together last year as a way to practice outreach and human rights education with the community.
“We are so excited for the opportunity to collaborate with Upstander Project again, this time along with the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education,” Jason Mancini, director of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center says. “Several of our museum educators are 2016 alumni, and we are thrilled to deepen our involvement with such impactful educators. We have a great opportunity to pool our resources together with other amazing, like-minded institutions to help equip and compel more people to respond to injustice.”
The Academy, which spans from July 31 – Aug. 4, 2017, features topics such as the Rwandan genocide and the experiences of the indigenous peoples, a speaker from the Wabanaki tribe as well as a speaker from Rwanda, and various workshops centered around creating ways to talk about genocide and reconciliation in the classroom. Teacher’s guides, documentary films, and other materials on human rights and genocide education are distributed.
The Academy is a professional development opportunity for pre-service educators in the Neag School as well as in-service K-12 educators to take workshops in genocide and human rights education in order to foster understanding of complex historical and current issues. Its goal is to provide educators with new teaching methods and approaches to genocides and the importance of upstanders, defined as “a person who stands up, speaks out, and/or takes action in defense of those who are targeted for harm or injustice” by the Upstander Project’s website.
Glenn Mitoma, director of the Dodd Center as well as assistant professor of human rights and curriculum and instruction in the Neag School, has been conducting outreach with the Upstander Project and the Pequot Museum over the past year in order to come up with ways to collaborate.
“Much of their mission overlaps with our mission,” Mitoma says. “It was an important relationship to cultivate.”
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, the Academy’s principal partner, is a non-profit educational institution that focuses on the history and cultures of Native American tribes in the northeast. The museum has been working with the Upstander Project by screening its films and helping to continue the human rights discussion. Now with the inclusion of the Neag School in the partnership, Mitoma says he is “looking at this as an opportunity to build upon the successes of last year.”
Within the Dodd Center’s human rights initiative, Mitoma is in charge of workshops for educators geared toward policy and advocacy, which fits squarely with the partnership, he says. The curriculum is taught using the 2011 United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and focuses on helping educators translate these events into topics that are happening within the classroom today, Mitoma says. The Academy begins and ends at UConn’s Storrs campus, with workshops held at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum in the middle of the week.