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USD International Studies Lecture Series welcomes human rights expert Rafia Zakaria

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The International Studies Program at the University of South Dakota will host human rights expert Rafia Zakaria as its first speaker for its annual lecture series. Zakaria will discuss human rights concerns associated with drone warfare, including civilian casualties caused by drone strikes. The lecture is 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 24 at Farber Hall. Admission to the lecture is free and is open to the public.

Zakaria, a Pakistani American who is currently a doctoral candidate at Indiana University, was awarded the John Edwards Fellow for 2007-2008, and was recognized by the Indiana Congress for her work on behalf of South Asian women. Zakaria currently serves on the Board of Directors for Amnesty International and is the first Pakistani American woman to serve as a director for Amnesty International. She chairs the Planning and Priority Committee for Amnesty International while maintaining a broad portfolio of published journalistic and scholarly work.

Timothy Schorn, professor of Political Science at USD and director of the International Studies Program, points out that many Americans are unaware of human rights violations throughout the world.

“Rafia Zakaria is speaking on an issue that is very relevant and important. As we pursue our policy of counterterrorism, are we including discussions of human rights? Are our actions contradicting our values? This is a terrific opportunity to engage the university community in discussion,” said Schorn, who hopes that inviting speakers like Zakaria will bring human rights violations to the forefront of students’ minds. “I am very pleased that we are able to host an expert on Human Rights and to introduce students and the larger community to a perspective that perhaps they hadn't thought of.”

Schorn is faculty advisor to the USD International Studies Organization, a student organization committed to helping USD students enrich their understanding of world events and politics through engagement, philanthropy, scholarship and service. A photo of Schorn is available for download at

For more information about Rafia Zakaria or the International Studies Organization please visit or email


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News