The Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies

3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290
Norman, Oklahoma 73072
United States
The Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies (SWCHRS) was established at the University of Oklahoma in 1961 with the primary mission of extending the resources of the University to communities in the Southwest faced with civic conflict and controversy. The immediate impetus for the creation of a full-time center was a large annual two-week workshop for public school personnel attempting to comply with court school integration decisions. The Center was first privately supported by individuals interested in societal pluralization and intergroup relations agencies such as the Anti Defamation, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), American Jewish Committee (AJC), and others.

Soon thereafter, the center's programs extended beyond schools to intergroup relations training for elected officials, American Indians, journalists and editors, pastors and counselors, law enforcement agencies, and others concerned with human rights. The mission of the Center has remained focused on human relations, although its specific programs have changed with political and social issues.

At the height of the Civil Rights movement, there were several (seven) university-based units similar to the University of Oklahoma's Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies. All but three were on the east coast and most were subsumed within Colleges of Education and concerned with school desegregation. The SWCHRS was conspicuous for its ability to deal with a multiplicity of issues, including school desegregation. In fact, at the request of the United States Court for Western Oklahoma, the Center wrote the first desegregation plan for Oklahoma City.

The original mission of the Center was capsulized in the phrase "to ameliorate conflict and controversy at the community level." The focus was to bring the resources of the entire University of Oklahoma to bear on the foment, violence, and acrimony associated with the rapid social changes of the late 50s and early 60s. The "community" term was intended to keep the center out of a one-on-one counseling role and focused on intergroup relations. Through the years, the mission of the Center has changed to reflect social needs, but until recent years has kept two emphases—intergroup relations as our primary concern, and we brokering the expertise of the entire university in conflict situations.

Historically, the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies has maintained the capability to offer training in a broad range of relevant areas to all types of clients: police, municipal officials, business executives (especially concerned with pluralism in the workplace), the military, religious leaders, editors and publishers, school administrators, the courts and legal professionals, and others.

Role as Change Agent
The Center was created in response to the need for a more direct involvement on the part of the University of Oklahoma with communities of the state and regions as they faced (and still face) rapid social change. The role of the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies is that of a change agent taking a proactive role. The Center is not only concerned with human rights, but human relations, and works in the fields of prejudice and incivility as directly as once worked in the fields of injustice and illegal denial of constitutional rights. The Center's mission is only broadened by the social changes of the last few decades, and still is proactive and serves as a change agent for the social good of all disadvantaged people.

Now, the Center's primary focus is multicultural issues and concerns, and is devoted to the study, understanding, and resolution of human conflict and promoting understanding and cooperation among people of different racial, ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds. The Center serves as a catalyst in bringing together leaders from various institutional and societal sectors to address important cultural diversity issues and to explore methods to effect equal opportunities in the critical life spheres of education, employment, housing, economic well-being, health care, public safety and related areas affecting the quality of life in communities of Oklahoma, the surrounding region, and the nation.

The range of the Southwest Center's activities fall into the four major categories of Education, Research, Public Service, and Consultation. Within these broad areas, the Center offers a range of capabilities and services including: providing educational and training programs through special institutes, conferences, workshops, and seminars; developing client-based training programs focusing on cultural diversity, and cross-cultural communication in both educational and workplace settings; developing and disseminating information about various populations and critical issues and concerns that impact their lives; assessing community and institutional problems and formulating policy recommendations; and performing applied community studies, needs and capabilities assessment, and program evaluations.
This is a non-campus group.
Geographical Scope: National
Added on 04-14-2008
Updated on 04-14-2008

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