Toward a better future.
At Worcester State University, the Dennis Brutus/Merrill Goldwyn Center for the Study of Human Rights is your source for awareness of human rights violations and other abuses that plague today’s world. The center incorporates human rights issues into the Worcester State curriculum and provides resources for academic research.
Get involved with human-rights movements.
Student Chapter Involvement
Collaboration with the student chapter of Amnesty International has resulted in the development of programs, lectures, symposia, and other activities.
Many of the center’s events are co-sponsored by campus partners like the Urban Action Institute, Center for Global Studies, and the Multicultural Affairs Office.
The center also maintains the Dennis Brutus Collection in the Worcester State Library, which gives researchers access to numerous manuscripts, letters, books, and other documents of this influential poet and anti-apartheid activist.
The history of the Dennis Brutus/Merrill Goldwyn Center for Study of Human Rights.
The Center for the Study of Human Rights was co-founded in 1982 by the late Worcester State Professor of English Merrill Goldwyn and Worcester resident Rev. Paul Ferrin with the goal of bringing a strong human rights program to Worcester State. Since then, the center has aimed to promote awareness about various human rights issues through curriculum development and through lectures, speakers, and symposia that address these issues.
Past speakers include Shirley Chisholm, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Eli Wiesel, Congressman James P. McGovern, Ariel Dacal Diaz, and Cynthia Enloe.
Learn more about other contributors to the center.
Dr. Merrill Goldwyn was an English professor at Worcester State for 30 years. Goldwyn challenged his students to consider human rights issues with literature that incorporated issues of social justice. He was first inspired to bring human rights to the University after meeting former political prisoners at an Amnesty International event in the early 1980s. Soon after, he established the Center for the Study of Human Rights and invited Dennis Brutus to be the inaugural speaker.
Brutus would continue his relationship with Goldwyn and Worcester State for many years to come. In November of 2008, Worcester State announced the establishment of the Merrill Goldwyn Fund to commemorate the man who spread the message of social justice and helped create the Center for the Study of Human Rights.
Dr. Sarah Sharbach was a Worcester State history professor who challenged her students to have a greater understanding of social justice. She enlightened her students on the injustices that Native and Latin Americans face. Sharbach also played a significant role in community service, initiating several events that highlighted human rights issues. She also was a member of the Center for Human Rights Steering Committee, a founding member of the Diversity Advisory Committee, and curriculum coordinator for the Women’s Studies Concentration. Her legacy lives on in the Dr. Sarah E. Sharbach Memorial Scholarship, which is available to Worcester State students who have financial need and demonstrate passion for social justice.