Friday marks the second Center for Civil and Human Rights Conference at Gonzaga University. This conference is free to GU students, faculty and staff and is designed to inform the community about social justice issues, specifically among underprivileged and underrepresented groups. 

The specific aim of the upcoming conference is to “to create a nationally-recognized civil and human rights program that enriches the educational experience of students, furthers the common good, and provides significant contributions to the policy and practice of civil and human rights,” Jason Gillmer, professor of law and director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights, said in an email.

This year’s conference lines up directly with the Center for Civil and Human Rights mission statement.

The upcoming conference will build on the past year’s discussion on American prejudices and biases and how said biases are seen in the criminal justice system but will attempt to differentiate itself in a few key ways. Gillmer said that the biggest difference between this year’s conference and last year’s event is the theme.

“Last year, we brought law professors, attorneys, judges, sociologists and medical professionals to talk about law, leadership and the role of the civil rights’ activist,” he said. “This year, our theme is ‘Medicine, Music, & Mascots: Furthering Social Justice in the Age of Intellectual Property’.”

The event’s website said “This conference puts [intellectual property] into conversation with social justice by asking how the areas of patent law, trademark law and copyright law can better serve the public good in the modern world.”

The conference includes renowned speakers from 11 different universities and the American Civil Liberties Union, who will address their particular expertise in the areas of patent law, technology and trademarks as related to social justice.

This year the conference will consist of three panels, a plenary address and a lunchtime keynote address. The three panels will each address a variety of topics including trademarks, digital technology, copyright and patents. Overall each panel focuses on addressing social justice, keeping in line with the conference’s mission.   

“We are uniquely honored to have nationally-recognized scholars participating in the program, including Professor Lateef Mtima of Howard University who will give the plenary address to open the conference, and Professor Madhavi Sunder of Georgetown University who will give our lunchtime keynote,” Gillmer said. 

The event is an important opportunity for anyone who would like to learn more about social justice in regards to the law.  

Gillmer places a specific focus on how intellectual property is growing extremely quickly and it is important to have discussions and learn how this new technology can affect a variety of communities. This conference also takes a unique approach to an important topic, as it closely looks at how the public can be better served by patent law, trademark law and copyright law in the current global climate.

Attending this event is an opportunity for GU students and community members to learn more about social justice issues, particularly ones related to law, that plague the world today with a crucial focus upon intellectual property and how it can be a positive influence on communities. 

Further information about the event and contact information and how to register can be found at 




Emily Goldberg is a contributor.

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