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Human Rights Expert Bede Sheppard to Talk about "Protecting Education From Attack"

Lecture and Discussion Hosted by Will Spotlight Increasing Attacks on Students, Faculty and Schools Worldwide

On Thursday, October 14, Human Rights Watch International senior researcher and human rights attorney, Bede Sheppard, will be the featured speaker at Ann Arbor Greenhills School to address a growing but grossly under-reported international crisis: the increasing--and increasingly violent--attacks on students, teachers and educational facilities across the globe. The event is sponsored by, a local, nonprofit ethics news-and-ideas website and nonpartisan events organization. Protecting Education from Attack is a collaboration with Greenhills School, which is hosting its first program in the annual Life of the Mind Lecture Series.

According to founder Jeanine DeLay, the attacks that Bede and others in the children's rights field have been documenting over the decade, represent an assault on the human right of access to education. "The problem is most evident in areas where civil conflicts put the lives of schoolchildren, teachers and scholars at universities in danger," DeLay points out. "Not only are the ideas and knowledge, the livelihoods and lives of educators placed at risk, but the bombings of school classrooms, as well as rapes and abductions of students walking to and from their community schools, have become tactics of warfare. These tactics, and the increasing number of tragic deaths of schoolchildren and educators investigated in more than two dozen countries, have transformed zones of learning into zones of war.

DeLay goes on to note that Sheppard's visit represents a rare opportunity for local audiences. "We are very honored that Bede Sheppard is coming to Ann Arbor," she says. "His monitoring work and investigations into attacks on education have been groundbreaking. The Ann Arbor area is a perfect place to publicize and create awareness about protecting education from attack. Given the depth and breadth of our educational resources, we are an unique and influential zone of learning that is difficult to match. Imagine if we had to face the attacks and abductions suffered by the schoolchildren, teachers and university scholars in the many places documented by Bede and others.  His talk for the Greenhills' Life of the Mind Lecture Series offers the opportunity to learn for ourselves about these attacks, to ask questions and to share our views about how we can help to protect education from attack to ensure the right of access to education to children around the world."

Bede Sheppard's presentation, which will take place in the Greenhills School Campbell Center, is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.  A former field investigator and legal specialist for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Croatia,  Sheppard is currently the senior researcher in the Children's Rights Division at Human Rights Watch International. His responsibilities encompass monitoring attacks on education in Asian countries, including India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand. The Life of the Mind lecture will be followed by a Q&A session. Earlier in the day, Bede will be talking with students at Greenhills School and participating in an audio podcast about his work and experiences in the field of human rights and humanitarian law.

During the 2010-2011 school year, is also sponsoring a Learning Zone Protective Symbol Design Exhibit linked to Bede Sheppard's talk on protecting education from attack. Washtenaw County students, teachers and residents are invited to create an original graphic design, featuring a distinctive symbol that will serve as a universal symbol: an advisory and warning to everyone, from security forces to residents and visitors, that they are entering a no-violence sanctuary. To submit your symbol or learn more about the exhibit, please visit: 



Additional questions about Bede Sheppard's October 14 Protecting Education from Attack lecture and the Protective Symbol Design Exhibit can be directed to: [email protected].

To become more informed about the global campaign to prevent and respond to attacks on education, please review the 2010 UNESCO Conference report and a companion study, Education Under Attack 2010.