First online symposium on human rights issues ends Tuesday


David L. Dodds

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Arts & Sciences


The UND Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies (CHRGS) on Tuesday, Nov. 27, will wrap up its first-in-a-series of interactive "online symposia," which grapple with significant human rights issues of the day.

Coinciding with the 30th Anniversary of UND's Women and Gender Studies program (formerly Women Studies), the first online symposium topic focused on "Contemporary Issues in LGBT Rights" or "Queer Encounters with the Straight State."

The ensuing online conversation revolved around reactions to a written presentation about the topic by Jeffrey A. Langstraat, a former UND assistant professor of sociology.

It was the first of what CHRGS officials expect will turn into a series of important, and perhaps, at times controversial, online scholarly dialogues that spur public discussion. They plan to offer these symposia at least once a semester.

The goal of the symposia, according to Gregory S. Gordon, CHRGS director, is to stimulate intellectual discourse, raise awareness, promote tolerance and enrich the educational experience.

"We have been very fortunate to discuss many important issues here by organizing events on campus," said Gordon. "The online symposia will allow us to reach a wider public and leave a record that will always be available on our website. There is no substitute for actual in-person interaction but online scholarly discourse has become an important supplement to brick and mortar gatherings."

Langstraat's initial opened to public review on Nov. 12, at which time, interested readers were encouraged to participate in the conversation by posting comments.

A second academic, in this case, Carrie Anne Platt, in the Department of Communication at North Dakota State University, reviewed Langstraat's work and provided additional perspectives on the topic. From there, UND Professor of English Kathleen Dixon, who serves as director of the Women and Gender Studies program at UND, provided yet a third perspective to Langstraat and Platt's works to round out the discussion. During each phase of the process, members of the public were encouraged to submit their online reactions.

The schedule of events for the first online symposium is as follows:

  • Monday, Nov. 12: A written version of a CHRGS presentation by former UND Assistant Professor Jeffrey A. Langstraat, originally given on March 21, 2012, titled "Contemporary Issues in LGBT Rights (Or, Queer Encounters with the Straight State)," will be posted online. The public comment period opens.
  • Friday, Nov. 26: A reply by NDSU communication professor Carrie Anne Platt, titled "A Rhetorical Perspective on the Battle for LGBT Rights," will be posted online and will be ready for public input.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 20: A response by Dr. Kathleen Dixon to Langstraat and Platt's pieces will be posted online and will be ready for public input.Tuesday,
  • Tuesday, Nov. 27: Public comment period will close.