David Cohen, the director of Stanford University's Center for Human Rights and International Justice, received the Miriam Aaron Roland Volunteer Service Prize on Wednesday, May 12. Cohen is an expert on human rights law and, as a professor of classics, one of the world's leading social and legal historians of ancient Greece. The Prize, which is awarded by the Haas Center for Public Service through the generous endowment of Miriam Aaron Roland, '51, recognizes Stanford faculty who engage and involve students in integrating academic scholarship with significant and meaningful volunteer service.
In presenting the award to Cohen, School of Humanities and Sciences (H&S) Dean Debra Satz remarked, "Stanford has many amazing scholars and teachers, but David stands out among them as the ideal type of faculty member who engages students in integrating academic scholarship with significant and meaningful service to society."
"For students, participation in David's classes sparks a passion for work in human rights," Satz added. "He has an amazing network of contacts worldwide, which he calls upon to give students the opportunity to apply what they've learned in his classes to research projects and internships."
In his nomination of Cohen, former H&S Dean Richard Saller wrote, "David places great emphasis on the need for academic grounding of advocacy work; in his view it's essential that his students not just be well-meaning but well-informed about the legal complexities of human rights issues."
In accepting the Prize, Cohen said, "It's not difficult to be a good mentor when you have amazing students to work with, and that has been my good fortune and my privilege." He commended Stanford University for dedicating resources that allow students to engage in meaningful experiences at home and abroad with the goal of “educating global citizens who will make a difference in our world.”
He also thanked Center staff, Stanford Global Studies, the School of Humanities & Sciences, the King Center and Haas Center who provide fellowship funding for the Center’s students and Cohen’s innovative courses. "It’s this combination of people that has enabled me to do what I think is the most important part of my job," Cohen said. "It’s not just imparting skills and knowledge in the classroom… but beyond the classroom, beyond academic skills, it’s creating opportunities that enable students to have experiences that are more than lines on their resumes.”
Cohen continued, “And that’s the most important part of my job, to help them… through those experiences, learn what they are capable of contributing. The classroom is obviously critical in education, but to me the classroom is a starting point; it's not the whole [story]."
On behalf of the Center staff, congratulations, David!