The human right to political participation
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Modei Akyea leads an Afro-Cuban rumba session at a past International Education Day. Photo courtesy of Kirk Murray.
On the same day many American adults are voting in the presidential election, more than 300 middle-school and junior-high students from eastern Iowa and western Illinois will participate in their own election and discussion of civic rights at the 16th Annual International Day conference hosted by the University of Iowa College of Education.
The Tuesday, Nov. 6 event will focus on the “Human Right to Political Participation: You Have the Power” and will take place at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. While the programs are open only to students whose schools preregistered, members of the media are invited to attend.
The human right to political participation is based on Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
International Day is an annual event designed to educate middle-school students on local and global human rights issues. Students hear a keynote address and participate in small group breakout sessions.
This year’s keynote speaker is Lyombe Eko, a professor of media law and ethics and international communication at the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Eko’s keynote address, from 9:10 to 9:40 a.m. is titled “Stand up! Speak up for Human Rights!”
Gregory Hamot, a social studies education professor in the UI College of Education and director of the UI Center for Human Rights, is one of the event coordinators. He says this year's conference is especially exciting because it occurs on Election Day.
"Having young Americans not only understand the precious right to political participation, but to also engage in a basic level of participation via a vote, is going to be an extremely powerful experience," Hamot says.
Breakout session topics include “The Gender Gap: Do Candidates for President Care More about Women than Men Voters?” and “The Sound of Democracy: Music, Power, and Political Participation.” Breakout session leaders come from several UI departments as well as the Iowa City Public Library, Amnesty International, and the Iowa United Nations Association.
The first breakout session will be held from 10:15 to 11:05 a.m., the second breakout session will be from 11:10 a.m. to noon, and the final breakout session will be from 12:40 to 1 p.m.
Students will end the day from 1:10 to 1:45 p.m. by voting in their own election based on two very different views of America’s future role in international affairs presented by two debate students from Iowa City West High School.
International Day sponsors include the UI College of Education, The Stanley Foundation, the UI Belin-Blank Center in the UI College of Education, the UI Center for Human Rights in International Programs, and the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Convention Center.
For more information or a full schedule visit www.education.uiowa.edu/services/internationalday.