WKU Fund supports student’s research on human rights and journalists


WKU Fund supports student’s research on human rights and journalists

The WKU Fund made it possible for Andrew Henderson of Olive Hill, Ky., to present his research on the role played by journalists in the quest for universal human rights at the 47th Annual WKU Student Research Conference. 

Last fall, Henderson took a course from Dr. Patricia Minter on the History of Human Rights, which looked at themes of human rights from their origins in the classical era to the global goal in the contemporary era.

“This broadly got me interested in the field of human rights and all of its various facets,” Henderson said. “But it was our readings in class that got me specifically interested in the roles journalists play.”

Henderson’s research project was presented at the 47th Annual WKU Student Research Conference, which was sponsored by the WKU Fund. While taking Dr. Minter’s course, he approached her about his idea of focusing on the role journalists played in the progression for universal human rights.

“She told me that in all her years of teaching she’d never come across a topic like mine and she was very excited to see what I could do with it,” Henderson said. “I was very flattered by this because Dr. Minter is very much an intellectual powerhouse, so I knew I must have been on track to doing something cool.”

The research focused on three individuals: Thomas Clarkson, who was a founding member of the 1787 Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade in England; Ida B. Wells, who wrote about lynch law and the Southern rape complex; and Randy Shilts, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle who reported on the AIDS crisis in 1982.

Currently working on a comprehensive thesis with Dr. Minter, Henderson hopes to add Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, for whom Mother Jones magazine is named, and Nicholas Kristof, columnist for The New York Times. 

“I’m just happy to know there are other people who are interested in learning about human rights and all the layers that come with that,” Henderson said. “I’m thankful WKU gave me a platform to present, and I’m hopeful this continues to broaden my experience here.”

Henderson is majoring in Communication Studies and Political Science at WKU and is an Opinion Editor for the College Heights Herald. He is also a Student Ambassador for the Department of Communications, a member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and a member of Lambda Pi Eta, a communication studies honor society. With plans to graduate in May 2018, he is serving as an intern at the Courier-Journal this summer and will be the Editor-in-Chief of the Herald in the fall.

“I guess I’ve been moving toward journalism as a profession,” Henderson said. “If I’m able to combine my interest with journalism and human rights then that would be the most ideal. I’ve also been considering going to graduate school and concentrating on a human rights program.”

The WKU Fund, managed by the WKU Foundation, attracts unrestricted private donations that support WKU priorities. This unrestricted support from alumni and friends enhances innovative initiatives that help students persist, achieve and graduate.