Human Rights Practice Program announces major expansion

Feb. 3, 2021

Concern for human rights is central to many of the world’s most important challenges, from gender-based and race-based violence to the welfare of migrants to the impact of climate change on vulnerable populations.

To respond to the increased demand for training and specializations in human rights practice, the University of Arizona Human Rights Practice Program, housed in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, is now offering a new online bachelor’s degree in Human Rights Practice and three online graduate certificates in Human Rights and TechnologyHuman Rights and Documentary Media, and Gender-Based Violence. The programs began January 2021.

The Human Rights Practice Program already offers a master’s degree and graduate certificate in Human Rights Practice. The master’s – launched in 2018 – has more than 80 students from all over the world.

William Simmons, professor and director of the Human Rights Practice Program, said that the new online programs are the first of their kind, adding that there is an untapped demand for human rights education programs that are cost-effective, action-oriented and provide students with a formal degree on completion.

“With the enormous recent growth of human rights as a professional field, there is a huge need for human rights practitioners with expertise and hands-on experience,” Simmons said.

The programs harness the expertise in human rights that exists across the University of Arizona campus. The curriculum is interdisciplinary, bringing together 56 faculty from 10 colleges. The new certificate programs are offered in collaboration with other units on campus.

Because the programs are offered online, they are available to students in other countries who might be prevented by time, financial and visa constraints from traveling to the U.S. for in-person classes. 

A distinguishing feature of the programs is the extensive interaction between students and leading practitioners through video conferences. Previous classes have featured 250 virtual guest lectures from 40 different countries. Simmons added that they have signed MOUs, or memorandums of understanding, for joint programming and curriculum with five universities in Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Bangladesh, Ghana and Austria.

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