Pilot Program with Wesleyan University

Jointly with Wesleyan University, the University Network for Human Rights has launched a first-of-its-kind program for the 2019-2020 academic year to train undergraduate students in human rights defense and promotion.

Read news coverage of the pilot program here.

  • Fall 2019: Classroom instruction in human rights advocacy

Students are enrolled in Visiting Professor Jim Cavallaro’s Human Rights Advocacy Seminar. The seminar provides foundational classroom instruction on the growth and evolution of the global human rights movement and introduces students to the practice of human rights fact-finding, documentation, and advocacy.


  • December 2019: Practical training in human rights advocacy

Students participate in an intensive, immersive, three-day/two-night simulation exercise in which they play the roles of human rights researchers. 30-40 actors simulate a human rights crisis in a fictional locale, and students are tasked with gathering information about the crisis through interviews with actors and other fact-finding methods. Students also undergo media training through simulated interviews with actors playing roles of TV and radio broadcasters.


  • January 2020: Engagement in real-world human rights practice, part 1: fact-finding & documentation at site of rights abuse

Students travel to a location of rights abuse with University Network staff and use an array of fact-finding methods to document the situation on the ground, including: interviews with affected community members, government officials, corporate executives (if relevant), journalists, academics, and other relevant parties; data collection; video documentation; photography; local archival research; gathering GPS coordinates/location information (if relevant); etc.   


  • Spring 2020: Engagement in real-world human rights practice, part 2: designing & implementing an advocacy strategy

Over the course of the spring semester and under the close supervision of University Network staff, students receive academic credit to produce their advocacy outputs (reports, op-eds or other short-form pieces, videos, etc.) and design an advocacy/roll-out strategy in conjunction with community partners. By the end of the spring semester, students will have completed a real-world human rights advocacy project.