Remembering Professor Emeritus Stephen Burns Scallen

UMN Professor Emeritus, Stephen Burns Scallen

In early January, Minnesota lost a prominent human rights advocate with the passing of UMN Professor Emeritus Stephen Burns Scallen. Stephen and his wife, Chacke Scallen, funded the establishment of the Stephen and Chacke Scallen Lecture in Human Rights through a generous gift to the Human Rights Program. The annual lecture series highlights leaders and thinkers who distinguish themselves by carrying out their passion for human rights, cultural awareness, democratic principles, fairness, and dignity, often at great odds and great personal risk. The series places a particular emphasis on exploring the erasure of cultures and understanding the role of corruption in human rights violations, including corruption of the government, business, churches, and other institutions.

The inaugural Scallen Lecture in 2017 featured Edmon Marukyan, member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia and Chairman of the Council of Bright Armenia opposition party. Mr. Marukyan set the tone for subsequent lecture events, speaking openly about his professional and personal challenges of fighting government corruption and advocating for human rights and a strengthened civil society within Armenia. Since then, lectures have spanned from press protection in Myanmar, to the contribution of Indigenous voices to environmental policy, to reporting disappearances in Mexico. Each lecture has had a profound impact on audiences, educating communities on the importance of upholding human rights when governments fail to do so. 

Through the creation of the Scallen Lecture Series, Stephen and Chacke Scallen contributed to a public awareness of human rights violations, which is crucial for putting pressure on governments and holding them accountable to the principles of equal rights and justice. The Human Rights Program is deeply grateful to the Scallens for their generosity and their steadfast advocacy for human rights issues. 

Read more about the Scallen Lecture and past lecturers here.

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