University of Minnesota
Human Rights Program

Human Rights Program.

Human Rights Program


  • UMN Seeking Human Rights Professors

    The Institute for Global Studies (IGS) in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota invites applications for one or more full-time, tenure-track faculty positions in the broad field of human rights. Appointments will be 100%-time over the nine-month academic year. Appointments will be made at the rank of tenure-track assistant professor, depending on qualifications and experience, and consistent with collegiate and University policy. These will be joint appointments between the Institute for Global Studies and the appropriate disciplinary unit in the College of Liberal Arts. Appointments will begin fall semester 2016 (August 29, 2016).

    Successful candidates will evidence a pronounced interdisciplinary stance in their scholarship.  We encourage applications from scholars whose work addresses the theory and history of human rights, and we also invite applications from candidates with research interests in one or more of the following areas of human rights scholarship: economic/social/cultural rights; intersectionality (e.g., race, gender, indigeneity, sexuality); migration; rights and political theory; laws and institutions/transitional justice; the role of non-state actors; war/atrocities/mass violence; conflict resolution; humanitarian aid; social movements; health/ environment; culture/film/literature/art/representation. The broad scope of this search is meant to indicate our interest in candidates with innovative and interdisciplinary research agendas that would supplement and enhance existing research and teaching in the field of human rights.  Geographic focus is open but we especially welcome applications from candidates whose work addresses human rights in Africa, the Middle East, East or Southeast Asia, or indigenous nations.

    Required qualifications: Ph.D. or terminal degree in the appropriate field is required by the start of the appointment. The successful candidate(s) will show a strong commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching.

    Candidates will be evaluated according to: a) overall quality of their academic preparation and scholarship or other creative work, b) relevance of their research to the units’ academic priorities, c) evidence of commitment to teaching, and d) strength of recommendations.

    Duties & Responsibilities: Faculty in IGS and the College of Liberal Arts are expected to maintain an active program of scholarly research and publication or other creative work, active engagement in graduate and undergraduate teaching and advising, and service in both IGS and the department of the tenure home. The tenure home will be determined by the chosen candidate(s) in consultation with the respective unit heads, the director of IGS, and the appropriate CLA associate dean(s). The individual’s work effort will be equally shared between IGS and the tenure home; tenure and promotion decisions will involve consultation between each unit.  The successful candidate(s) will be expected to participate in the interdisciplinary, comparative and theoretical dialogues that define the intellectual vitality of IGS and the Human Rights Program.

    The Workload Principles and Guidelines for Regular Faculty in the College of Liberal Arts are available at: 

    Program Description: The Institute for Global Studies, founded in 1998, fosters interdisciplinary faculty and graduate student research on global/transnational themes, serves as the coordinating unit for a range of campus centers focused on global issues, and houses an undergraduate Global Studies major. IGS faculty members hold joint appointments with a range of departments such as Anthropology; Geography, Environment, and Society; Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies; Sociology; and Spanish & Portuguese.  IGS faculty are engaged in a wide range of interdisciplinary research projects including global urbanism, agricultural humanitarianism, education of migrant populations, and the relationship between cultural practice and sovereign power.  Additional information about the Institute is available at http://  IGS houses and supports the Human Rights Program. The Human Rights Program advances human rights scholarship through support for research and publications; educates the next generation of human rights scholars and professionals; and engages with serious human rights issues through timely and meaningful projects, public programs and internships.  Additional information about the HRP is available at  The University of Minnesota has long been at the forefront of human rights scholarship and action.  Faculty working in this area have established international reputations by bringing together scholarly, legal, policy and activist work on human rights around the globe. 
    Established in 1868, the College of Liberal Arts supports the University of Minnesota's land-grant mission as home to disciplines in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. The College of Liberal Arts values diverse cultures, experiences, and perspectives as key to innovation and excellent education.
    The College of Liberal Arts is committed to intellectual freedom, the pursuit of new knowledge, and the belief that the liberal arts are the foundation of academic learning. CLA prepares students to be independent and original thinkers, innovators in their chosen fields; to create meaning in their lives and in their life's work; and to become productive citizens and leaders in their communities and the world.
    Founded in 1851, the University of Minnesota, with its five campuses and more than 65,000 students, is one of the largest, most comprehensive universities in the United States, and ranks among the most prestigious research universities in the world. It is both a major research institution, with scholars of national and international reputation, and a state land-grant university, with a strong tradition of education and public engagement. 

    All applicants must apply online through this link.

    To be considered for this position, please click the "apply" button and follow the instructions. You will be given an opportunity to complete an online application for the position and attach a letter of intent and curriculum vitae. Additional documents must be attached by accessing your “My Activities” page. The following materials must be attached to your online application: 1) letter of intent, 2) curriculum vitae, and 3) one article length writing sample or the equivalent.

    In addition, applicants must arrange to have three letters of evaluation sent to <>.  Additional materials may be requested at a later date.  Applications will be reviewed beginning November 15, 2015, and will be accepted until the position is filled.

    The University recognizes and values the importance of diversity and inclusion in enriching the employment experience of its employees and in supporting the academic mission.  The University is committed to attracting and retaining employees with varying identities and backgrounds.

    The University of Minnesota provides equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  To learn more about diversity at the U:

    To request an accommodation during the application process, please e-mail or call (612) 624-UOHR (8647).

    Any offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check. Our presumption is that prospective employees are eligible to work here. Criminal convictions do not automatically disqualify finalists from employment.

    The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UMTC), is among the largest public research universities in the country, offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional students a multitude of opportunities for study and research.  Located at the heart of one of the nation's most vibrant, diverse metropolitan communities, students on the campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul benefit from extensive partnerships with world-renowned health centers, international corporations, government agencies, and arts, nonprofit, and public service organizations.
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  • Human Rights Program Celebrates its Three-Year Partnership with Schools in Antioquia, Colombia

    On 30 June 2015, the Human Rights Program recognized the closing of the first chapter of what will hopefully be a long-lasting partnership with schools in the Department of Antioquia, Colombia.  The Minnesota-Antioquia Human Rights Law Partnership, funded by USAID and the Higher Education for Development (HED), provided a space for students, faculty, staff, and schools to come together to broaden their skills and experience in the field and study of human rights—all the while building a network of life-long friendships and partners through mutual respect and empowerment. 

    Beginning in October 2012, the Partnership, commonly referred to as the “Alianza,” developed among five schools: the University of Minnesota; and, in Antioquia, the Universidad Católica del Oriente, the Universidad de Medellín, the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, and the Universidad de Antioquia. The Alianza was conceived with the overall mission of being an interdisciplinary, team-based program working to strengthen the capacity of all partner schools in the teaching, research, and practice of human rights. From this general guideline, three primary goals for the promotion of the Partnership quickly developed: 

    Develop faculty expertise in human rights and the rule of law

    Strengthen the capacities of the Antioquia law schools to better serve vulnerable populations in the areas of legal services and human rights litigation
    Enable students in the partner schools to be better prepared to protect human right in Colombia

    The Alianza carried out a wide range of activities designed to accomplish these goals including enhancing Spanish-language human rights materials on line; providing courses on  human rights by various professors and practitioners; connecting with transnational human rights organizations and experts; providing a scholarship for four faculty members to receive a Master’s degree in human rights; providing exchange programs for faculty and students to observe classes and take part in internships; and applying the knowledge and skills developed through the partnership to human rights situations, issues, and cases. 

    After UMN was selected to coordinate the Antioquia Partnership, the challenge lay in creating a collaborative relationship among the schools to carry out these activities.  Because of the large number of actors involved in the UMN-Antioquia Partnership, a democratic decision-making process was needed to set the Partnership’s priorities, select recipients for externships, design strategic initiatives on issues, and distribute responsibilities.  The Antioquia partner schools, which varied significantly in size and mission, established a consortium for this purpose. Composed of two representatives of each school’s legal clinics, the consortium met regularly in consultation with UMN to make collective decisions about the direction and implementation of the Alianza’s goals and objectives.  The transparency and representative nature of this consortium allowed the voices of each of these distinctive partners to be heard, and served as a model of an iterative and democratic process that added legitimacy to the decisions and actions of the Partnership.

    To support the needs of this large and diverse Partnership, UMN hired a staff of three Colombia-based lawyers, who provided a broad array of services in Antioquia, including coordination of events, meetings, and collaborative legal activities, as well as support for curriculum development, training and human rights expertise.  Over the three years of HED-funded activity, the Partnership benefited from this Antioquia-based team of committed and talented human rights lawyers, which included a General Coordinator, a Legal Clinic Coordinator and a Human Rights Lawyer. The UMN-based staff, including the Partnership directors and Minnesota-based coordinators, met weekly via Google Hangout with the Antioquia-based staff to ensure that activities were proceeding in a timely and effective manner.

    Using this process, characterized by mutual respect and empowerment, the Alianza of the five partner schools developed into an effective and sophisticated human rights program with its own institutional identity, which was in the position to respond in a timely and strategic manner to the pressing human rights issues in the various communities. Working together to create educational programs and advocacy opportunities that promoted human rights in Colombia, the Alianza built synergies among faculty and student groups, legal clinics, national and international NGOs, international organizations and experts, and like-minded government actors.  

    In Minnesota, the most visible presence of the Partnership was from the frequent visits of Colombian law students over the last two years.  The UMN hosted student externs over four semesters in 2013-2015, nine students in total. This experiential learning opportunity was a competitive process for students in the partner schools. The University of Minnesota engaged the prospective externs ahead of their visits, to design meaningful learning opportunities specific to the students’ stated interests and personal/professional goals. Students who were interested in a broad array of topics, such as business and human rights, LGBTQA+ rights, and children’s rights, met with faculty and experts in the Twin Cities who specialize in a these issues.

    The nine student interns included:

    Juliana Vélez, Universidad de Medellín
    Martin Palacios, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana
    Sara Mejía, Universidad de Antioquia
    Leidy Baena, Universidad Católica de Oriente
    John Marin, Universidad Católica de Oriente
    Carolina Londoño, Universidad de Medellín
    Verónica Cadavid, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana
    Miguel Arias, Universidad de Antioquia
    Dani Castaño, Universidad Católica de Oriente

    During their time in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul students had the opportunity to observe classes at both the University of Minnesota's College of Liberal Arts and the Law School. They met with faculty and staff at UMN and various other universities, took learning field trips, and worked with the human rights clinics at the UMN Law School.  Each visiting student was required to carry out a 20 hour per week internship with a human rights organization based in Minnesota. Organizations that sponsored the student externs included: The Volunteer Lawyers Network, Immigrant Law Center, The Advocates for Human Rights, and The Prison Nursery Project. These internships helped shape the students’ perspectives and professional capabilities.

    Tying education to advocacy, the Partnership was able to grow through its system of support and collaboration over the years into an effective and sophisticated human rights program with its own institutional identity as a champion of the practical promotion and protection of human rights at the local, national, and international level. In Antioquia, human rights clinics in the partner schools made great strides toward becoming spaces of experiential learning, where students were encouraged to work hand-in-hand with community groups to develop and implement strategic advocacy on pressing issues. This was visible in the work of clinical faculty and students with residents of “La Playita,” a neighborhood deeply affected by flooding and other environmental risks; as well as with residents of “La Argentina” and “El Arrayan” in the community of Nariño, Colombia who, since their forced displacement in 2006, were still residing in informal emergency settlements without basic public services. 

    The work of the Partnership was able to utilize the human rights framework to advocate strategically with various communities for lasting solutions to their human rights challenges. Using this strategic approach, the Partnership communicated its concerns in two important international fora. In 2014, it presented its findings to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (“CRC”) with regard to issues facing Antioquia’s children, such as illegal mining work, lack of access to healthcare, environmental pollution, and lack of regulation and oversight in the adoption process. The UN Committee included the Partnership’s concerns in its concluding observations, and, as a follow up, one of the expert members of the CRC visited Antioquia in April 2015 to present her findings in person to a public audience organized by the Partnership. 

    Over the last three years, the Partnership was able to promote the rights of children internationally by appearing twice before the CRC in Geneva, Switzerland. In June 2014, representatives of the Partnership presented their recommendations for ways in which the Colombian government can advance children’s rights in a pre-sessional meeting of the CRC’s members, and in January 2015, two more representatives participated in the CRC’s review of Colombia’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Partnership was the only academic-based group presenting at the CRC review, working alongside other NGO coalitions to provide continued dedication to the support for international human rights. 

    The Partnership was quite active in promoting human rights on the regional level as well. In March 2014, representatives of the Partnership were able to travel to Washington DC to meet with human rights organizations, congressional offices, and media to raise awareness for the rights of workers. The following March, the Partnership was granted a public hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to explain the problems of communities facing harm in resettlement processes related to displacement from violent conflict, urban development, or high risk living situations. At the hearing the Partnership targeted the Colombian State's failure to adopt legislative and administrative measures aimed at protecting the rights of those affected by resettlement. Representatives of the Colombian Government also presented evidence to the IACHR at the hearing. A final report is expected within the coming months from the IACHR, and the Partnership will continue to monitor the IACHR’s recommendations and advocate for their implementation.

    At the end of the three-year chapter of the Partnership, the Human Rights Program and the schools in Antioquia can claim several long¬-lasting contributions to protection of human rights in Antioquia and elsewhere, including the formation of human rights leaders and advocates, new and strengthened legal clinics which can carry out effective collaborative casework, and access to resources for teaching, research and advocacy. In addition to these lasting contributions, the partners anticipate an ongoing and productive relationship. The schools and programs are already planning for the future of the Partnership, which includes:

    Joint research initiatives between faculty members underway on domestic violence and the tutelage process in Colombia;

    Collaboration among the partners and NGOs in monitoring the Colombian government’s actions to implement the recommendations of the CRC and the IACHR;
    Invitations to faculty at the University of Minnesota to present on their research; and
    The development of institutional agreements among the partner schools to support faculty and student exchanges

    The Partnership will be shifting its immediate focus as it looks ahead. In the near future, the partners in Antioquia will continue to be committed to working together to implement the recommendations that were drafted with regard to human rights in Colombia. In the long term, the Partnership intends to expand to include faculty and staff from legal clinics in other law schools in the area, bringing together a more robust network of advocates and scholars of human rights, a key aspect of maintaining and growing a successful partnership across continents. 

    We would like to thank all the individuals who have contributed to such a successful beginning of this partnership. Over the years, the Human Rights Program was able to build tremendous relationships, partake in unique experiences, and reach achievements only possible through the support and respect of individuals united in the goal of studying and promoting human rights. As we look forward, we are excited for the many opportunities to come to the Program and our partners in Colombia!

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  • The View from Faribault Prison: Human Rights Scribe 2015

    Each week for the last two months, I’ve had the pleasure to teach creative writing to fourteen men incarcerated at Faribault State Correctional Facility, a medium security prison about an hour south of the Twin Cities. As with the other classes I’ve taught in prison, it’s been an incredible experience to work with a group of writers who are so committed to their work and so eager to learn and discuss elements of craft.

    This class was a little different from the ones I’ve taught in the past, primarily because it was focused on more experienced writers, several of whom have many years of writing experience. While I continued to choose our readings and give personalized feedback on student work, the fact that several of the students have been writing for a long time has changed the classroom dynamic somewhat, in that I felt more comfortable ceding some of the responsibility for facilitating the class to the students themselves. One of the best parts of this experience was watching them supporting one another, praising and critiquing each others’ work. I was constantly learning from them, as well: every classroom discussion of a story or essay or poem brought to light something that I had never noticed or appreciated before.

    The dialogue between students was especially fruitful because this class did not focus on one particular genre, but touched on elements of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. Some students worked entirely in a single genre, but many branched out and tried something new. One student, who focuses primarily on song-writing and slam poetry, wrote and revised a beautiful short story; another student, who is working on a memoir, turned his attention to poetry for a few weeks before combining elements of both genres in a moving and thoughtful lyric essay. The students said that this “cross-pollination,” as they put it, gave them a greater appreciation for work in other genres and added some zest to the conversation.

    Last week, on the last day of class, each writer stood in front of the room and read aloud from a polished piece that he had been working on. It was a powerful experience to listen to them present writing that they had labored over and of which they felt proud.

    Many people in our country, including President Obama, are beginning to pay more attention to issues of mass incarceration and to point out that the way we treat people who are incarcerated is often profoundly dehumanizing. I’ve never been more convinced about the value of working in prison and attempting to counteract their dehumanizing influence through artistic self-expression. After the final class at Faribault, we shook hands and said our goodbyes. Many of them thanked me for coming into the prison to teach. I thanked them, as well, because I’m sure I learned as much as any of the students did and because the experience of teaching in prison is humanizing for me, too.

    I’m very grateful to the Human Rights Program for providing the support that made these classes possible. Now that I’ve finished with the teaching portion of my fellowship, I will turn my attention to writing. I’m happy to have another month before classes begin to work on an essay about my experiences and the importance of arts education in prison more generally. I will also be helping to organize a public reading of student work, which will take place at the end of October.
    -By Mike Alberti, 2015 Human Rights Scribe
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Human Rights Beat

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    The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site. The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago's west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights. Continue reading on The Guardian's website.

    March 6th, 2015
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    June 10th, 2014
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    May 28th, 2014
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    May 7th, 2014