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Liberal Arts Student Selected for Elite Fellowship

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posted: Monday March 31, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas – A UT economics student will be spending part of his summer studying abroad in Paris, thanks to a fellowship devoted to international education.

Ben Adams, a junior from Austin, Texas, is one of only 40 undergraduate students in the nation selected to receive a 2014 Humanity in Action Fellowship.

The fellowship brings together international groups of college students and recent university graduates to explore different national histories of discrimination and resistance to injustice, as well as examples of contemporary issues affecting minority groups. The objective is to promote a dialogue about understanding and responding to the challenges that democratic countries face as they become more diverse societies. 

The 2014 fellows will participate in an orientation workshop at the Council on Foreign Relations and the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, from May 26 to May 29. The orientation will focus on American civil rights, Holocaust education and European security and political issues.

After the orientation is complete, Adams will travel to Paris to live with a host family while participating in the fellowship. The HIA is highly interdisciplinary and features daily lectures and discussions with renowned academics, journalists, politicians and activists, as well as site visits to government agencies, non-profit and community organizations, museums and memorials. 

The fellowship will end with a Humanity in Action International Conference in the border region between Germany and Denmark from June 26 through June 29, at which all fellows from all program cities across Europe will gather. The content of this final event will focus on the treatment and status of minorities in border regions in Europe and around the world. 

Adams was motivated to apply when he realized the HIA fellowship would allow him to conduct independent research while also participating in a multicultural program that seeks to address some of the world’s most pressing issues. 

“This fellowship will help me to better understand contemporary international dilemmas through a nuanced historical lens,” Adams said. “Very few people have the opportunity to take part in such an amazing program, and I am confident that I will connect with a network of students and future leaders that will be advantageous to me as I look to become a voice for those who have too often found themselves voiceless.”

HIA received a record 605 applications for the 40 available spots this year. Fellows are selected on a highly competitive basis for their high academic standing, active participation in human rights issues and outstanding recommendations.

“We have never had a more diverse and talented applicant pool,” says Judith Goldstein, Humanity in Action’s executive director and founder. “These young leaders are dynamic, entrepreneurial and passionate about changing the world. We are so thrilled to welcome them to the Humanity in Action network.”

Adams is an active member of the UT campus and the Austin community. He first heard about HIA through sociology professor Penny Green, whom Adams took several classes with, along with working for her as a research assistant. 

“I am especially impressed by Ben’s ability to grasp the complexity of social issues, as well as the implications of this complexity for human rights policy,” Green says. “He always tries to examine issues from different perspectives, gaining insight into policy implications for diverse stakeholders, especially minorities.”

In addition to being an outstanding student, Adams has a strong commitment to human rights.  In the 2013 Texas legislative session, he partnered with Equality Texas to lobby for employment protections for LGBT Texans. He also worked with Planned Parenthood to help defeat a bill that would make it harder for low-income Texas women to access reproductive and other health care. 

Since fall 2013, Adams has also served as director of community outreach for Get Covered Austin, a non-partisan organization that works to inform UT and the greater Austin community about the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. In that capacity, he organized a team of volunteers to reach out to uninsured and low-income Texans and educate them about the realities of the new healthcare landscape so that they can better attend to the healthcare needs of themselves and their families.

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