News

New human rights degree launched


8 October 2008

Academic Director Dr Danielle Celermajer said students from the partner countries will be targeted, with a particular emphasis on economic disadvantage, social marginalisation and gender.
Academic Director Dr Danielle Celermajer said students from the partner countries will be targeted, with a particular emphasis on economic disadvantage, social marginalisation and gender.

Thirty students from the Asia Pacific region will undertake postgraduate study in human rights at the University of Sydney after the University secured its largest-ever grant from the European Union (EU).

The new degree, called Asia Pacific Masters in Human Rights and Democratisation, is the only regional program of its kind. It will be funded by an EU grant of Euro 1.498 million (currently worth AU$2.6 million).

Partner universities includeGadjah Mada University in Indonesia, Kathmandu Law School in Nepal, the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka, and Mahidol University in Thailand.

Jointly managed by the University's Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific and the Faculty of Arts, along with the other partner institutions, it will bring together teachers and researchers in human rights and democratisation from faculties across the University to form a unique multidisciplinary network.

The Dean of Arts, Professor Stephen Garton, said it was a recognition of the University's standing as an important centre for the study of human rights. "It represents the highest aspirations of the faculty - cutting-edge scholarship and meaningful partnerships to address some of the world's most pressing and significant issues. It will make a genuine contribution to the public good," he said.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International), Professor John Hearn, also recognised its significance, stating that "the degree program is a prominent example of how globalisation of research and education can benefit international learners and leaders and provide a greater understanding of human rights and democratisation in the Asia Pacific region."

A second tier of associate partners who will be involved in the new degree include the Calcutta Research Group in India, Ataneo de Manila University in the Philippines and the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Academic Director Dr Danielle Celermajer emphasised that the program is about developing educational programs together with our partner institutions. "Historically, the Asia Pacific has not had the opportunity to develop its own regional human rights institutions and programs, but we are now at a moment in time where there are some very exciting developments in this area. This regional Masters will form the educational dimension of regional human rights development, and for the first time, it will be developed from the ground up, across the Asia Pacific."

Students from the partner countries will be targeted, with a particular emphasis on economic disadvantage, social marginalisation and gender. The EU grant will fund 30 students from the region for two years, including travel, fees, and per diems.

"That is an extremely important part of the program. It will be accessible to people who really need it, like mid-career professionals in NGOs. This is people who would be excluded from most existing programs for financial reasons" said Dr Celermajer.

Clinical Professor Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, President of Mahidol University said: "This partnership is a bold step for human rights education at the regional level."

"We hope to see the expansion of human rights study and research in the region, and more importantly the increased connection between these different countries in the promotion of human rights."

The new program will welcome its first intake of students in 2010.

More about the program

Students will spend a 'foundational' semester and a one week intensive course at Sydney . They will then study at a partner university. During this time they will do an individually tailored combination of electives, research dissertation and an internship.

"The research collaborations that this is going to open up will be extraordinary," said Dr Celermajer. Professor Garton agreed: "This project will foster significant international collaboration and interdisciplinary research between Sydney University and major researchers and universities in Europe and Asia."

This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of the University of Sydney and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union."


Contact: Mandy Sacher-Grusd

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