Noted Statistician To Speak on Human Rights

October 28, 2010 — The study of human rights violations falls into many disciplines – history, politics and economics, to name a few. For Fritz Scheuren, it's a matter of statistics.

Scheuren, vice president for statistics at the National Opinion Research Center based at the University of Chicago, has applied statistical analysis to the examination of human rights violations for Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and has advised similar projects in Guatemala and Kosovo.

He will visit the University of Virginia on Nov. 5 to speak on "Using the Discipline of Statistics for Righting Human Wrongs." His talk will be at 3 p.m. in the South Lawn auditorium, Nau Hall, room 101. The public is invited.

Scheuren's appearance is sponsored by U.Va.'s Department of Statistics, along with the College of Arts & Sciences Dean's Office and its Quantitative Collaborative initiative.

"The most compelling work that Fritz has done is as a consultant to the Human Rights Data Analysis Group," Ted Chang, chairman of the statistics department, said. "The Kosovo project is the one that was presented to the International Tribunal."

Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group designs and builds information management solutions and conducts statistical analysis on behalf of human rights projects.

"The closer we can align our values with our statistical skills, the greater can be the difference we make to the betterment of our society," writes Scheuren, a past president of the American Statistical Association. His talk will cover pro bono work overseas in Haiti, Armenia and Lesotho, as well as in the U.S. on behalf of Native Americans and in voter behavior.

He will discuss, he said, "the full gamut of our statistical toolkit … from study design to data collection and cleaning, to data analysis, even to giving court testimony."

For information, visit the Department of Statistics website.   

— By Marian Anderfuren