Join Us for All School Day — Human Dignity: How Poverty Affects Human Rights

Human Dignity: How Poverty Afftects Human Rights

More than 6 million children die from malnutrition every year, according to Amnesty International. More than 800 million people go to bed hungry every day. Every minute, a woman dies in pregnancy or childbirth. What’s the common thread in all of these tragedies?


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, states that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” 

Comparing the current state of poverty in the world to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights exposes a harrowing truth: We are not doing enough to combat poverty, which is leading to human rights violations worldwide.

As social workers, we have a unique role to play in helping to eradicate poverty and ultimately ensure the rights of people worldwide. Understanding the importance of this issue, the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is leading a conversation on poverty and its effect on human rights by hosting an open dialogue at this year’s All School Day (ASD). The event will feature expert speakers and panelists who will facilitate discussion, propose solutions and answer questions. USC will also open this discussion to the general public to provide a platform for meaningful conversation about poverty as a human rights issue.

What Is All School Day?

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work’s annual All School Day event began after the civil unrest of the Los Angeles riots in 1992 that were compounded by existing racial tensions. Since then, students, faculty members and community leaders have gathered each year to celebrate diversity through an exchange of ideas and to learn how to better communicate despite differences in race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, social class and disability.

Event Details

Students will attend the event on campus, while MSW@USC students and the general public are invited to live stream the event beginning at 9 a.m. PST on February 15.

Join the livestream here

Anyone can join the #ASD17 Twitter chat by following @uscsocialwork and @MSWatUSC. You can submit questions online for the speakers and panel using the online form.

Having Trouble with the Live Stream?

Please clear your cache and history and log in again to your browser.

Other troubleshooting techniques:

  • Try using a different browser.
  • Log in via an incognito window.
  • Ensure you have a strong internet connection.

Featured Keynote Speakers 

Lucy Williams

Lucy Williams is a Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law. A nationally recognized authority on welfare law and low-wage labor, Professor Williams focuses on the dependency created in low-wage labor relationships, and how the political rhetoric connecting “dependency” with receipt of welfare has diverted attention from the structural issues within low-wage labor markets. She has a long and impressive record as both an academic and a litigator in the areas of unemployment insurance, Social Security and related welfare programs. In recent years, Professor Williams has expanded her work to address issues of global poverty and the legal limits of social and economic rights. She currently convenes the International Social and Economic Rights Project (iSERP) and co-directs the law school’s Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy. Before joining the Northeastern faculty, Professor Williams was an attorney with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute for 13 years.

Amy Ziering

Amy Ziering is a two-time Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker. Her work looks at social issues and their impact on human rights, ultimately serving as a tool for transformative social change. Her most recent film, “Hunting Ground” — a documentary centered on rape culture on college campuses — premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The film was the 2016 recipient of the Producer Guild of America’s Stanley Kramer award; and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original song. Her previous film, “The Invisible War,” an investigation into the epidemic of rape in the U.S. military, won the Audience Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival; won two 2014 Emmy Awards for Best Documentary and Outstanding Investigative Journalist; and was nominated for an Oscar. The release of “The Invisible War” sparked conversation about sexual assault in the military and catalyzed the passing of 35 pieces of reform legislation. 

Alicia Cass, MSW

Alicia Cass is a graduate and current doctoral student at the University of Southern California. A former foster youth, abuse victim, teenage mother, high school dropout and gang member, Alicia had a challenging start, until her life changed. She started her higher education journey at the age of 28, with six children, by enrolling at USC to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Proudly, at age 37, Alicia earned her Master of Social Work from USC while raising her family as a single parent. While at USC, Alicia received numerous accolades and various awards. Now, Alicia is a doctoral student at USC. In response to the challenges Alicia faced in her earlier years, she founded The Metamorphosis Experience, or “ME,” a nonprofit that helps women, girls and youth overcome the same obstacles she faced. The Metamorphosis Experience provides gang intervention, job readiness training and delinquency prevention programs to those in need. 


Niels Frenzen

Niels Frenzen

Niels Frenzen is director of the USC Gould School of Law Immigration Clinic, which provides legal representation for those seeking asylum due to torture, rape and other severe violence experienced in their home countries. The clinic also works on advocacy and research projects designed to document and improve the conditions of confinement for detained immigrants. Clinic students represent clients in Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) immigrant visa petitions, crime victim visas, general deportation defense, and appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals, among other situations. Prior to joining USC, Frenzen practiced with nonprofit law offices, including working as directing attorney of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at Public Counsel in Los Angeles.

Ellen Olshansky

Ellen Olshansky

Ellen Olshansky serves as founding chair and professor of the new Department of Nursing at USC. She is a women’s health nurse practitioner and a researcher focused on women’s health across the lifespan, with a particular emphasis on reproductive health. Before joining the USC faculty, she was professor and founding director of the Program in Nursing Science at the University of California, Irvine. While at UCI, she chaired the Community Engagement Unit of the Institute for Clinical & Translational Science, funded by the National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Sciences Award. She also served as director of the newly inaugurated Initiative to End Family Violence. While at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, where she served as chair of the Department of Health and Community Systems, she developed an interdisciplinary qualitative research group. Olshansky previously served as a board member of the Orange County Human Relations Council.

Join the Conversation

Make your voice heard by sharing your thoughts, questions and related articles using #ASD17. Your social posts may be featured on the MSW@USC blog following the event!