News and Events

Munro Director Interviewed for Seattle Times Article on Social Unrest and Learning

Speaking with the Seattle Times, Professor and Munro Director Vernon Johnson explains that public universities are addressing themes of diversity, equity and inclusion by incorporating social justice into courses across majors and disciplines. To read the full article, click here.


December 10:  International Human Rights Day

Professor and Munro Director Vernon Damani Johnson will be the featured guest speaker at the 2017 International Human Rights Day celebration on Sunday, December 10. He will be speaking on “The State of Human Domicile: Housing as a Human Right".

Also featured will be the annual Amnesty International Write For Rights letter writing campaign. Every year, to mark Human Rights Day, hundreds of thousands of people around the world send a letter or sign a petition on behalf of someone they’ve never met, as part of Amnesty International’s Write For Rights. These messages help convince government officials to release people imprisoned for their opinions, support human rights defenders, stop torture, commute death sentences and end other human rights abuses.

The event will be held at the YWCA from 6:00-8:00 pm and is co-sponsored by the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, Joining Hands Against Hate, the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center, and Amnesty International Bellingham Chapter.

PDF icon International Human Rights Day 2017

2017 Munro Seminar, November 1-2

The fifth annual Munro Seminar for Civic Education was held on November 1-2. Keynote speaker Sarah van Gelder, co-editor of Yes! Magazine, spoke at the Majestic Ballroom in downtown Bellingham on November 1st. She told stories from her book, The Revolution Where You Live, focusing on the ways community stakeholders come together to rebuild local economies, sustain the environment, and resolve racial conflict. The following day two panels were held on Western’s campus. They focused on the role of community stakeholders and political parties in finding a middle ground in our community and political life.

To watch recordings of the presentations, click here to be redirected to the 2017 Munro Seminar page.


June 3, 2017:  Munro Director Vernon Johnson to Give Keynote Address for Kulshan CLT "Building Our Future, Building Our Community"

The Kulshan Community Land Trust invited Professor of Political Science and Munro Director Vernon Damani Johnson to give the keynote address at event on June 3, "A Changing Community, An Evolving Strategy for Creating Permanently Affordable Housing".  Permanent, affordable housing gives people in our community a step up.  The event focused on major new directions and projects at Kulshan Community Land Trust that are helping to create a community that has room for everyone.


February 23, 2017:  Ijeoma Oluo to Visit Western Washington University

Seattle Magazine has named writer and internet yeller, Ijeoma Oluo, one of Seattle's most influential people.  Oluo is Editor-at-Large at The Establishment,a media platform run and funded by women; her work on social justice has been featured in The GuardianThe StrangerThe Washington PostTIME and more. Oluo's new book So You Want To Talk About Race will be released Fall 2017 with Seal Press. You can find her yelling on twitter at

A graduate of Western Washington University (Political Science, 2006), Oluo will be on campus Thursday, February 23 to give two presentations:

Race, Gender, and Social Change

12:00 pm, Communications Facility 125

On Writing about Politics

4:00 pm, Communications Facility 120

This event is sponsored by WGSS, the Political Science Department, and the Munro Institute.


January 14, 2017:  Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights ​Conference

The 19th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Conference will be held on Saturday, January 14, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Whatcom Community College’s Syre Center (235 W. Kellogg Road). This year’s theme is “Working Passionately and Unrelentingly for Justice.” 
Two administrators from Western Washington University will keynote this year’s conference. Dr. Sabah Randhawa, president of WWU since last summer, will speak about his commitment to diversity and inclusion. Dr. Karen Dade, Associate Dean for Woodring College of Education, will give the afternoon keynote speech. For over 20 years, Dr. Dade has focused her research on combating racism in schools. She has been involved in over a dozen committees and organizations that focus on diversity and social justice.

The annual conference will also feature skill-building workshops offered by community members, including K-12 and college students and educators, anti-racist community organizers, and more. Bellingham School District will be providing continuing education hours for teachers. The schedule of workshops is available here

This event is free and open to the public of all ages, and students and educators are encouraged to attend.  Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.  Light refreshments provided throughout the morning. Food vendors will be on site with lunch options for sale.


Fall 2016

2016 Munro Seminar for Civic Education

November 14-16

The Munro Seminar for Civic Education held November 14-16, was a rousing success. Professor Danny Hayes of George Washington University treated the audience to an engaging and informative keynote, mixing humor with the very sobering message he had to deliver. One of his main take-away messages was that very little changed in terms of actual voting behavior. Several thousand votes in four rustbelt states (Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin); and lower turnout of young Latino and African American voters, seemed to have swayed the election in Donald Trump’s favor. The audience, which nearly filled the Harold an Irene Walton Theatre included an even mix of students and community members.

The panels over the next two days featured people knowledgeable in their fields and passionate about what they do. Overall the seminar reached over 250 people. Be on the lookout for videos of all presentations on this site, our Facebook page and TVW.  Details of the program can be found here!


Populism and Political Party Systems in the U.S. and Western Europe

October 5 and October 18

The Ralph Munro Institute for Civic Education, the Political Science Association, and the Political Science Department wil co-host a two-part panel discussion series on the topic of populism and political systems in both the United States and Western Europe.

The Impact of the Trump and Sanders Campaigns on the Republican and Democratic Parties in the United States

October 5, 2016 (4:00-5:30 pm/Location: CF 110)


  • Todd Donovan, Whatcom County Councilman and Professor of Political Science, Political Science Department, WWU

  • Devin Burghart, Research Director, Institute for Education on Human Rights


The Brexit Vote, the Refugee Crisis and the Future of Populist Parties in Europe

October 18, 2016 (4:00-5:30 pm/Location: CF 110)


  • Amir Abedi, Chair, Political Science Department, WWU