24 July 2020 Blogs

Human Rights and Social Justice Studies Are on the Rise

Do faculty and students have the resources to support teaching and learning in this emerging area?

Human rights and social justice studies are increasingly of importance in higher education. This is according to scholar Lindsay N. Kingston, author of “The Rise of Human Rights Education: Opportunities, Challenges, and Future Possibilities,” published in the journal Society Without Borders.

In her article, Kingston notes concerns of global “citizenship and responsibility,” as well as organizations like Amnesty International, the World Conference on Human Rights and the United Nations regarding  the rise of curricula addressing related issues such as social justice, indigenous peoples, equality, democracy, human development and other aspects of human rights.

Kingston points out many academic institutions are responding to this demand. Human rights education is often a focus in anthropology, political science and sociology departments, and “a handful of U.S. institutions offer undergraduate majors in human rights,” she writes, while others “provide students with the option of earning a certificate and/or minor in human rights.”

Graduate schools in U.S. institutions are “catching up with their European counterparts,” Kingston also notes, nodding to the development of master’s degree programs such as “Human Rights Studies” and “Social Justice and Human Rights.”

Yet, she explains, “despite widespread support for HRE [human rights education], educators still grapple with how to most effectively include international human rights in undergraduate programs.”

“[Faculty] face challenges associated with integrating this interdisciplinary topic across campus – particularly at traditional institutions that emphasize strict disciplinary borders – and teaching resources for undergraduate education remain limited,” according to Kingston.

To support teaching and learning goals related to this important and emerging area of study, students and educators frequently look to the library for help.

“Faculty members ultimately require resources for effective HRE, as well as institutional support for undertaking innovative teaching strategies,” Kingston writes.

Helping libraries support the demand for human rights and social justice studies

Explore our vast collections of primary source materials that capture the breadth of perspectives – historical and contemporary – to support human rights education in alignment with your curriculum.