Statue of John Carlos and Tommie Smith.
Statue of John Carlos and Tommie Smith commemorating the olympic project for human rights and Olympic protest in 1968.

A World-Class Research and Policy Institute

The Human Rights Institute is a research and policy institute in the heart of Silicon Valley. To ensure its lasting success and for those looking to invest in effective policy solutions and distinguish SJSU as a new center for human rights scholarship—anonymously or to leave a deliberate legacy—there are plenty of opportunities to give.

Give and Invest

Afghan women with signs

Visiting Scholars Program

In 2022 the SJSU Human Rights Institute will begin serving as a resource and host for visiting international scholars. As part of this effort, we are also joining the New University in Exile Consortium, led by our colleagues at The New School. The point of the SJSU HRI Visiting Scholars Program [VSP] is to provide intellectual opportunities for scholars and educational opportunities for our students, faculty, and community members through their work. We are happy to announce that our first (3) Visiting Scholars have been selected from Afghanistan, in order to assist those fleeing political conditions under the Taliban and a current (preventable) humanitarian crisis now threatening over 23 million Afghans with famine. On August 15th, 2021, the day that the Afghan government fell to the Taliban regime, the SJSU HRI worked with partners to help evacuate Afghan scholars, journalists, and activists to help them reach safety and connect with universities offering opportunities in the U.S. As part of these efforts, the SJSU HRI partnered with the UC Berkeley Human Rights Center to raise over $400,000 to host Visiting Scholars and their families at our respective institutions.

John Carlos and Tommie Smith
John Carlos and Tommie Smith (Photo: Josie Lepe/San Jose State University)

Tommie Smith and John Carlos Legacy Continues

SAN JOSE, CA – On Tuesday, October 19th at 12 noon, on the 53rd anniversary of Tommie Smith and John Carlos' historic action in Mexico City, the San José State campus community will come together to reflect on the significance of their actions, and its relevance to today's struggle for racial justice. The event will take place at the Smith/Carlos Statues on the SJSU Campus. Before the Smith & Carlos event, an 11 am press conference will be held at the Statues for the release of the booklet "Racial and Social Justice at San José State University: Students Respond with Social Action", which documents 10 events and student actions on the campus as they have struggled to build Dr. King's Beloved Community (attached). At the 11 am press conference, speakers will discuss “The Man With the Hoe” and Tower Hall (Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton), Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and the Statues (Dr. Akilah Carter-Francique), Japanese American Internment at the Men’s Gymnasium (Miko Baker), the Re-Establishment of the Equal Opportunity Program (Diana Victa) and CAFÉ J and the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage (Elisha St. Laurent)

See the "Racial and Social Justice at San José State University: Students Respond with Social Action" Booklet in its entirety here

Silicon Valley Pain Index Press Conference
Silicon Valley Pain Index Press Conference

Silicon Valley Pain Index

An annual report on the state of inequality and quality of life for San José and Silicon Valley residents. Its inspiration can be found in Professor Bill Quigley's Katrina Pain Index following the devastating 2005 storm. The SVPI measures are meant to reflect fundamental (IBHR) International Human Rights and to serve as one of many potential illustrations of Santa Clara County’s [SCC] performance as a “human rights county.”

Full Report

2021 Human Rights Lecture Series

Free Angela and All Political Prisoners

Live Watch Party: Free Angela & All Political Prisoners

This event kick-offed Black History Month and the Lecture Series with a live watch party of the award winning documentary, Free Angela and All Political Prisoners by Shola Lynch (2012). The film details the early life of Dr. Angela Davis as a scholar, political figure, and temporary fugitive who would defend herself in an epic 1972 trial that became an international stage for revolutionary Black feminism. The live watch party featured a live Q&A with Dr. Bettina Aptheker, who appears in the film.

View Recording Here

Teach-In Panel

Teach-In Panel Discussion: Dr. Angela Davis and the Indispensability of Black Feminism and Socialism in 2021

This event featured a virtual teach-in panel discussion of Black Feminism and Socialism by internationally known scholars, Drs. Barbara Ransby, Bettina Aptheker, and Neferti X.M. Tadiar. Each guest presented a brief, but provocative talk before engaging directly with questions from the viewing audience.

View Recording Here

Angela Davis

Keynote Lecture with Dr. Angela Davis

The culminating event for the SJSU HRI Human Rights Lecture Series, featuring the 2021 keynote human rights lecture from Dr. Angela Davis (UC Santa Cruz, Distinguished Prof. Emerita). Following the lecture, Dr. Davis discusses how these ideas are shaping political struggles in our region and across the country.

View Recording Here

Director W. Armaline and team standing posing behind a stand with the HRI logo.
Director W. Armaline and student team, legal aid workshop for undocumented community members in Santa Clara County.

Meet Our Team

The HRI faculty include award-winning authors, educators, and journalists who partner with one of the most diverse student bodies in the country and some of the most impressive organizations in the region to inform policy and practice according to international human rights law, standards, and scholarship.

Student speaking and gesturing with his hands towards other students.
 Solitary confinement cell demo

Programs and Scholarships

In partnership with the SJSU Human Rights Minor Program, students gain access to a wealth of applied and scholarly experience in human rights law, philosophy, advocacy, policy design, and reporting.

NAACP Die In protest at San Jose City Hall
 Die-in for Breonna Taylor (BLM)

Policy and Praxis

A central goal of the SJSU HRI is to demonstrate the potential for critical scholarship and human rights frameworks to address the many challenges that confront our local and global communities. The HRI creates and engages policy at the local, state, and federal level, working with stakeholders and policy makers to craft effective policy solutions.

Guest speaker from "We Change Genocide" speaking behind a podium.
 Guest speaker from We Charge Genocide


The SJSU HRI facilitates and supports groundbreaking scholarship that continues to shape the broader field of Human Rights. Beyond traditional publications, research is often conducted in partnership with students and community organizations to create, improve, and inform policy solutions to pressing social problems. 

Dr. Angela Davis smiles while behind a podium.
Dr. Angela Davis gives the Keynote Human Rights Lecture in 2015, joined by #BLM organizers from across the U.S.


The Annual Human Rights Lecture Series and other co-sponsored events bring the community and university together to examine our mutual challenges and build cooperative solutions. Look out for the next Annual Human Rights Lecture and official SJSU HRI Launch Event in Fall 2020.

Students speaking front of a camera.
Students Against Mass Incarceration [SAMI] joined by Dr. Edith Kinney addressing the press on cannabis record clearance in Santa Clara County.

News and Social Media

Follow the research, reporting, and news analysis of the SJSU HRI. The SJSU HRI Calendar provides a schedule of events, the live Twitter feed and Facebook page provide news and updates, and the emergent Human Rights News Network (coming soon!) will be an international source for Human Rights reporting, scholarship, and curated news.