Global Challenges 2018

Watch the video of our 2018 Global Challenges/Interdisciplinary Answers event (above).

Photos from 2018 Global Challenges

Two young Japanese children walking  down dirt road in an American Concentration Camp during WWII
Children walking in an American internment camp during WWII, photo credit:

The Question of Rights

Each year, University of Washington Honors students respond to the prompt: “What keeps you up at night?” These concerns set the focus of a robust public event where experts from different backgrounds demonstrate the power of collaborative problem-solving at high levels of engagement.

This year, students asked to explore how our culture defines and defends (or does not defend) human rights. On November 14, Honors Program Director Vicky Lawson will bring together Megan Ming-Francis (UW political science), Tom Ikeda (Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project), and Angélica Cházaro (UW School of Law) in a fast-paced conversation about their respective work to understand and protect the rights of individuals in our culture.

These speakers represent a fraction of the thought leaders and public figures in our community whose rich, complicated perspectives can help us frame better questions and make more informed choices as we navigate the greatest challenges of our time. Professor Ming-Francis has focused her research and teaching career on constructions of rights and citizenship and black political activism. Ikeda’s work to explore and preserve oral histories of survivors of World War II Japanese internment contains powerful lessons related to today’s socio-political trajectory. And Professor Cházaro brings decades of practical experience at the intersections of race theory and immigration law.

Join their public conversation, where lessons and ideas from political science, immigration law, and public education through story will converge on the question of rights.

Global Challenges/Interdisciplinary Answers
The Question of Rights
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 6:00 p.m.
HUB North Ballroom, UW Seattle Campus

About the speakers

portrait of Tom Ikeda
Tom Ikeda (Executive Director, Densho)

Tom Ikeda is the founding executive director of Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project and a super Double Dawg: he earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering, B.A. in chemistry and an MBA. at the University of Washington. He has received numerous awards recognizing his historical contributions, including the Humanities Washington Award, the National JACL Japanese American of the Biennium award for Education, and the Microsoft Alumni Fellows Award.

Mr. Ikeda is a sansei (third generation Japanese American) from Seattle, whose grandparents were incarcerated during World War II at Minidoka, Idaho. Since his founding of the grassroots nonprofit 22 years ago, Densho has made visible and accessible more than 900 video testimonies and 100,000 historical photos and documents that examine the World War II experiences of Japanese Americans. Housed in Seattle’s International District but operating as a democratized online resource center, Densho humanizes a time in our history that many Americans would prefer to forget. Densho also provides in-depth teacher resources and trainings to help students comprehend how the president and Congress came to authorize the removal and incarceration of over 110,000 people, more than two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens, based solely on race.

Ikeda recently explained why Densho’s historical content matters today:

“As we grapple with contemporary controversies surrounding immigration, terrorism, and the infringement of civil liberties in the name of public safety, parallels between past and present abound. Understanding the story of World War II incarceration, and the decades of racial discrimination and government surveillance against Japanese Americans that preceded it, offers opportunities for difficult, thought-provoking conversation. It also raises questions like:

  • How does a democracy weigh individual rights against national security?
  • Who is considered a ‘real’ American? Does this change during times of fear?
  • What is our responsibility to citizens and immigrants denied their constitutional rights?”

Prior to establishing Densho, Ikeda contributed to a number of industries in the private sector. A few highlights include managing the Multimedia Publishing Group at Microsoft, engineering artificial kidneys with Cordis Dow Corporation, and working as a financial analyst at the Weyerhaeuser Company.

Explore Densho

portrait of Ming Francis in front of books
Megan Ming-Francis (UW political science)

Megan Ming-Francis is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. She was recently appointed as a fellow with the Thurgood Marshall Institute — a multidisciplinary research and advocacy policy center within the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). Ming-Francis specializes in the study of American politics, race, and the development of constitutional law. Born and raised in Seattle, WA, she was educated at Garfield High School, Rice University in Houston, and Princeton University where she received her M.A. and her Ph.D. in Politics. She is particularly interested in the construction of rights and citizenship, black political activism, and the post-civil war South. Her research and commentary have been featured on MSNBC, BBC, Al-Jazeera, NPR, Democracy Now, PBS, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the Seattle Times, and TEDx Talks.

Professor Ming-Francis is the author of the 2014 book “Civil Rights and the Making of the American State,” which won honors from the American Political Science Association and the National Society of Black Political Scientists. This book tells the story of how the early campaign against state sanctioned racial violence of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) shaped the modern civil rights movement. Ming-Francis marshals an extensive archival analysis to show how the battle against lynching and mob violence in the first quarter of the 20th century were pivotal to the development of civil rights and the growth of federal court power. Michael McCann, UW professor and chair of political science, called Francis “an extraordinary scholar whose research is changing how we understand black resistance to racial subjugation and struggles for civil rights over the last 150 years.”

Last year, Ming-Francis led a three-part lecture series sponsored by the UW Graduate School exploring the historical context and current barriers to racial equity in the United States. The series concluded by drawing connections between the Black Lives Matter movement and other organized movements (Arabs, Immigrants, LGBTQ), reimagining what a successful rights movement might look like. She is currently at work on a second book project examining the role of the criminal justice system in the rebuilding of southern political and economic power after the Civil War.

While framing expectations for the lecture series, Ming-Francis explained: “One of the big lessons we can draw from it is that there’s not one institution that is going to be the guarantor or protector of rights,” Francis says. “I think that’s an important lesson for activists and people interested in justice today: some people focus on politics or some people focus on courts, but you shouldn’t put all your marbles in one basket.”

More About Francis

portrait of Angélica Cházaro (UW faculty, School of Law)
Angélica Cházaro (UW School of Law)

Angélica Cházaro began teaching at the University of Washington School of Law as a visiting assistant professor in 2013 and was quickly promoted to full-time faculty in 2016. Her teaching focus includes critical race theory, poverty law, professional responsibility and courses on immigration law. Professor Cházaro earned her J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she received the Jane Marks Murphy Prize for Excellence in Clinical Advocacy and where she was named a Lowenstein Fellow. She was also a Kent Scholar, a Stone Scholar and an editor of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Before attending Columbia, Professor Cházaro earned a B.A. in the studies of women, gender and sexuality from Harvard University.

Following law school, Professor Cházaro received a Ford Foundation fellowship to work with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) in Seattle. During her seven years at NWIRP she specialized in representing immigrant survivors of violence and directed an office in Eastern Washington, where efforts focused mainly on providing immigration legal services to farmworkers. Professor Cházaro served as a chief negotiator during a 56-day 2014 hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center, representing immigrant detainees. She has been interviewed in national and international news outlets for her work on behalf of immigrants. She is a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission convened by the National Day Laborers Organizing Network to provide the executive branch with recommendations on administrative relief for undocumented people.

Cházaro engages in front-line legal defense of immigrants in our local community who have been summoned for deportation and has authored several publications, including “Challenging the ‘Criminal Alien Paradigm,” 63 UCLA Law Review. 594-664 (2016). In the abstract for that paper, Professor Cházaro wrote:

“Releasing the grip on narratives of deserving and undeserving immigrants and mounting a full defense of the ‘criminal alien’ would allow for more nuanced advocacy and scholarship. A defense of the ‘criminal alien’ should not be based on the category being overbroad or on immigration being a civil, not a criminal wrong. The category of ‘criminal alien’ is too well established for those arguments to result in broad-based pro-immigrant reforms. Instead, an embrace of the ’criminal alien’ requires challenging the very formulation of the ‘criminal alien’ category and revealing it as an unnatural category for the distribution of the harms of detention and deportation. It also requires a critique of the system that produces migrants — primarily poor migrants of color from the Global South — as criminals.”

Read Abstract/Download Paper

In a recent interview with reporters at The Whole U (a resource portal focused on health and wellness of the UW community), Professor Cházaro explained how members of the public, especially students, can and should push for reforms that protect human rights in the U.S. “Broader change may not feel politically viable right now, but because of all of the pushback to Trump’s policies, there is an opening,” she says. “I wish people knew that nothing about how we organize immigration enforcement is inevitable — these are all policy choices that are being made every day and just as they’re being made, they can be unmade.”

More About Cházaro