Human Rights Education Needs Greater Attention in U.S. Higher Education

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Human Rights Educators USA (HRE USA) Network and the University and College Consortium for Human Rights Education (UCCHRE) submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council highlighting the need for greater human rights education across higher education institutions in the United States.

“All higher education programs can do more to advance human rights and we hope this report will facilitate greater collaboration and discussion to that end,” stated Kristina Eberbach, Director of Education at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights.

The report was submitted in anticipation of the U.S. mid-term review process for the Universal Periodic Review.

The report reviews over 133 higher education institutions in the United States for human rights and rights-related topics within the curriculum of schools of education, military academies and schools of social work. The document recognizes promising practices, particularly in schools of social work, but calls  for the U.S. government to encourage and support HRE in those institutions operated by the government or receiving federal funding.

Information for this report was gathered in 2017 through a coordinated research effort involving faculty, staff, and students at Columbia University (Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Teachers College) and the University of Connecticut (Thomas J. Dodd Research Center) on behalf of HRE USA and UCCHRE. “This was a collaborative process that we hope to repeat,” explained Felisa Tibbitts of Teachers College at Columbia University. “In addition to establishing this cross-network, cross-institutional collaboration, we developed a methodology we can use in future reporting.”

This recent report builds on the first-ever Stakeholder Report on the status of human rights education that was submitted as part of the UPR review in 2015. This first report, carried out by HRE USA in cooperation with the US Human Right Network, overviewed the status of HRE in U.S. schools, drawing on a survey administered to members and incorporating other information from secondary source such as policy reports and legislation. HRE USA emphasized the importance of the U.S. government in supporting HRE within state-level curriculum standards, teacher training and whole school attempts to reduce violence.

The full report is available online here.