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The International Human Rights Exchange (IHRE) is the world's only full-semester, multidisciplinary program in human rights. The program is housed at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa and is a joint venture with Bard College.
IHRE believes that the subject of human rights provides an excellent framework for realizing the goal of liberal education. The program aims to provide a challenging and rewarding experience in both liberal education and human rights education by:
--Enabling critical and creative thinking about human rights;
--Developing a democratic understanding of people's role in society;
--Linking academic work with activism, advocacy, and building a culture of human rights;
--Implementing student-centered learning; and
--Establishing relationships of equality, mutuality, and exchange among South African students and international participants from North America, Southern Africa and elsewhere around the world.
We seek to promote a critical understanding of human rights as part of a broad intellectual and social movement, not simply as a code or set of laws. We believe that human rights is a discourse in transformation (and often in contest) that is best understood through a multidisciplinary approach extending to the humanities, social sciences, arts, and sciences.
Each semester (spring and fall) students and faculty come together to participate in a deep and multifaceted intellectual engagement with human rights. In addition to a required core course introducing the human rights framework, students choose from 12 or more electives exploring human rights from the perspective of a variety of academic disciplines.
IHRE also opens up possibilities for substantive participation in human rights work. Students enrolled in the Engagement with Human Rights course intern with an NGO working on contemporary rights in post-apartheid South Africa.
In addition to their coursework, students will explore human rights challenges in South Africa through a Community Human Rights Workshop, visit the Apartheid Museum and other relevant sites, and attend guest lectures by human rights experts from South Africa and around the world.