Promoting Global Interdisciplinary Engagement in Human Rights


The University Network for Human Rights works to promote the development of interdisciplinary human rights engagement not only in the U.S., but also in other parts of the world.

Human rights clinics outside the U.S.—often influenced by the experience and practice in the U.S.—have generally been limited to law schools and, like U.S. human rights clinics, train future lawyers to address human rights issues primarily or even exclusively through litigation. The University Network partners with academics and practitioners in other parts of the world who are interested in promoting interdisciplinary clinical education; seeks to serve as a clearinghouse, identifying best practices from around the world in university engagement for human rights; and facilitates exchange of information and agreements for cooperation and interchange between and among universities, students, and instructors.

Such agreements would include, for example, travel of students in other parts of the world to the U.S. to engage in U.S. human rights fieldwork alongside U.S. students, coupled with travel of U.S. students to other countries to engage in human rights fieldwork alongside local students from University Network’s partner institutions.

In July 2018, Jim Cavallaro traveled to Mexico to meet with academics and practitioners seeking to develop interdisciplinary clinical education opportunities. Although a number of law schools in Mexico have litigation-focused human rights clinics, there are currently no interdisciplinary human rights clinics operating there. In this piece (in Spanish), Cavallaro and a colleague analyze the elements for successful clinics in Mexico. In November 2018, Cavallaro traveled to São Paulo to work with academics and practitioners to develop Brazil’s first fully interdisciplinary clinic. In 2019, Ruhan Nagra and Jim Cavallaro will meet with academics to consider means of promoting human rights engagement in university education in Japan.