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Three women point into the crowd to choose volunteers during their presentation.

The Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies (SWCHRS), established at the University of Oklahoma in 1961, is a program within the Public and Community Division in OU Outreach with the primary mission of extending the resources of the university to communities in the southwest faced with civic conflict and controversy. The center’s first initiative was a large, annual, two-week workshop for public school personnel attempting to comply with court-mandated school-integration decisions. The center was first privately supported by agencies such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), American Jewish Committee (AJC), and others.

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.

SWCHRS Mission

In its sixth decade, the core mission of the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies is to provide opportunities for learning, facilitated training, research and knowledge dissemination on issues of intercultural and intergroup relations as they pertain to communication, conflict management, collaboration, leadership, organizational culture, decision making, and inclusive practices.

Underlying this mission is the center’s historical value and leadership in social justice on issues of race, ethnicity, sovereign identities, migration, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other relevant issues of human relations.

The core educational values of SWCHRS require that the work is purposefully collaborative with a research-based attention to intergroup dynamics that emphasizes facilitation, engagement, and dialogue.