Adelphi University's College of Arts and Sciences welcomes U.N. Human Rights Award winner and human rights activist Shula Koenig.


Shulamith. The name means woman from Jerusalem in Hebrew. But 82-year-old Shulamith “Shula” Koenig has established herself as a woman of the world. A 2003 U.N. Human Rights Prize award winner, Ms. Koenig is founder of the People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning (PDHRE), an organization that helps educate the global community on how to demand its human rights for social and economic change. As a special guest to last year’s freshman seminar course taught by Devin Thornburg, Ph.D., she shared her passion for equality, liberty and dignity.

“Dignity is a personal thing,” Ms. Koenig said. “The human yearning to be recognized, to be present is universal.” Everyone—no matter their location, ethnicity, race, religious background or sexual orientation—knows what dignity is and feels like. She established this point during an exercise that helped the class realize and share moments in their lives when their human rights had been violated. They all had a story to share. From the sting of religious and racial prejudice to stereotypes based on hair color, numerous painful memories bubbled to the surface.

Ms. Koenig tapped into these experiences and encouraged the class to “learn, know, plan and act” and to lead the discussion on human rights with universities across the globe. Dr. Thornburg left them with food for thought: “What do you want to do to make a difference? What human rights violations do you see in your hometown and what does serving the community mean to you?

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Todd Wilson
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