Former Chair of Human Rights Watch to discuss her book, "World Citizen: Journeys of a Humanitarian" on Nov. 29

Friday, November 4, 2022 - 3:30pm

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications and the Forsythe Family Program on Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs will co-sponsor a book talk with international human rights activist Jane Olson. 

“Jane’s journey from wife and mother to human rights crusader demonstrates how midwestern values can change the world,” said Shari Veil, dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. “Insights from her journeys, expertly documented in journalistic form, can help us be better citizens and advocates for peace and justice in our time.” 

Olson will discuss her new book, “World Citizen: Journeys of a Humanitarian,” from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Nov. 29, at the International Quilt Museum. Refreshments will follow the discussion. To register to attend please visit  

In her book, Olson shares her story, that of a small-town girl from Iowa whose midwest values and early life experiences led her on a life-long crusade for peace, justice and humanitarian action. Her journey started as the organizer of a two-day church conference on nuclear proliferation in Southern California. Three decades later she would be chairman of the board of Human Rights Watch traveling to places as far-flung as Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Vietnam championing a moral truth, that all lives are valuable and equally deserving of support. 

“The Forsythe Family Program on Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs is proud to co-sponsor this event, featuring such a prominent activist and human rights defender,” said Courtney Hillebrecht, Hitchcock Family Chair in Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs and director of the Forsythe Family Program. “Jane’s life work is a model for our students.”

Olson is a 1964 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications and has worked many decades as a volunteer promoting international peace and justice and humanitarian work.  She chaired the International Board of Trustees of Human Rights Watch, the largest US-based international human rights organization, from 2004 to 2010, having worked on behalf of HRW since 1988. She also chaired the board of Survivor Corps for 12 years since its founding as Landmine Survivors Network. LSN and HRW were among the five organizations to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for the International Landmine Ban Treaty.

Olson is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a board member of both the National World War II Museum in New Orleans and Direct Relief, based in Santa Barbara, California. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Pacific Council on International Policy. She served as co-chair of the Women’s Refugee Commission in New York and continues to support the WRC as a commissioner.

Olson has received numerous awards, including the 2010 inaugural Alison Des Forges Award from Human Rights Watch and the inaugural Eleanor Roosevelt Award from Feminist Majority in 2005. California U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer presented the “Women Making History” Award to Olson in 2010. She received Public Counsel’s Community Achievement Award and the Silver Achievement Award from the Los Angeles YWCA.

To learn more about “World Citizen: Journeys of  Humanitarian,” please visit

World citizen: Journeys of a Humanitarian by Jane Olson
Jane Olson headshot
Jane Olson, human rights activist