The Oak Institute for Human Rights champions the struggles for dignity, freedom, and justice of people throughout the world. Every fall, we invite a front-line human rights activist operating in difficult or dangerous circumstances to come to Colby for respite and reflection as the Oak Human Rights Fellow. Through public lectures, classes, and other events, we educate the campus and extended community about the work being done by our Fellow. Beyond the Oak Human Rights Fellowship, we are committed to engaging students and community members in human rights work through civic engagement projects, internships, events, art, and activism.
Thursday, September 28, 7:00pm Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building
When two young American Jews raised to unconditionally love Israel witness the brutal way Israel treats Palestinians, their lives take sharp left turns. They join a movement of young American Jews battling the old guard to redefine Judaism’s relationship with Israel, revealing a deepening generational divide
over modern Jewish identity.
Wednesday, September 20, 6:30pm Reception, 7:00pm Moderated Discussion
Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building
Come and hear our 2023 Oak Fellow, Khosro Kalbasi Isfahani, share about his work as an Iranian journalist and human rights defender related to Health and Human Rights.
Saturday, July 8, 3:40pm; Thursday, July 13, 3:20pm
Maine Film Center, 93 Main Street, Waterville, ME 04901
Renowned Inuit lawyer Aaju Peter has led a lifelong fight for the rights of her people. When her son suddenly dies, Aaju embarks on a journey to reclaim her language and culture after a lifetime of whitewashing and forced assimilation.
The Oak Institute’s 2023-2024 theme is Health and Human Rights. Our goal is to identify a practitioner who works tirelessly in defending one of our most basic and essential rights as human beings. Although it can be hard to define, health is not, as the World Health Organization (WHO) reminds us, simply the absence of disease. Instead, health can be understood as a holistic and affirmative way of existing in the world. We can think of health at many different, interconnected scales: individual, family, community, society, and planetary. After all, the preamble of the 1946 Constitution of the World Health Organization states that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.
The 2023 Oak Human Rights Fellow is Khosro Kalbasi Isfahani. He is an Iranian journalist, activist and researcher. Currently, Isfahani writes for BBC Monitoring, the Atlantic Council, and ARTICLE 19, focusing especially on health and human rights violations.
The Oak Institute’s 2024-2025 theme is Environment and Living Rights. Protecting life inextricably binds human, animal, plant, water, and land lives together within fragile ecosystems. While human-centered environmental activism insists that we all depend upon, and should have the right to, a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment–we might further ask: what rights do waterways hold? What of mountains? The animals on whom the human species depend for labor, sustenance, and companionship? It is undeniable that the settler and capitalistic structures that have become increasingly global are causing harm: from warming waters and melting glaciers to the increasing frequency of catastrophic climate events, all life forms are suffering. For instance, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) predicts that by 2050 the catastrophic effects of the climate crisis will internally and externally displace millions of living beings. The living rights implications of climate change are staggering.