Author Bio

J. Paul Martin served as the first executive director of Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Human Rights from 1978 until 2007, after which he directed the human rights program at Barnard College. Besides teaching human rights courses at those institutions, he developed training programs for experienced human rights advocates from and in developing countries, including in 1989 the ongoing annual Human Rights Advocates at Columbia. His publications cover human rights education as well as religions and human rights.

Snigdha Dutt is a New York-based independent human rights consultant and research-er focused on women’s rights, refugee rights, and human rights education in South Asia. Over the past ten years she has worked with government agencies, think tanks and international NGOs, notably on and in Bangladesh, India, Jordan, and the United States. She has advanced degrees in Policy and Regulation, Human Rights, and Inter-national Human Rights Law from the London School of Economics, Columbia University and the University of Oxford.


This article provides an overview of the field of human rights education (HRE) using an input/output schema. It examines the challenges encountered at the delivery points where instructors must contextualize the now extensive corpus of human rights documents and practices to meet the needs, and the political and cultural traditions, of their particular target population. The challenges also point to the dominance of prescriptive over evaluative HRE literature, the degree to which HRE is not a stand-alone activity and the limited HRE-specific teacher training. The authors therefore call for more research on the long-term HRE outcomes of human rights education initiatives.

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