MINELRES: Fwd: human rights training

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sun Nov 26 10:46:41 2006

Original sender: Human Rights Tools <editors@humanrightstools.org>

Dear readers,

Since the last issue we have been hard at work collecting every human rights 
course we could find for our brand new training section, freshly published 

We put together what is perhaps the most up to date and comprehensive listings 
of human rights training opportunities - in total 107 courses: 75 Masters 
degrees and 32 short courses (with more to be added soon: Spanish, French, and 
distance learning):

A geographical analysis of these degrees shows that an extraordinary number are 
concentrated in the UK. Out of 75 Masters programs, no less than 46 take place 
in the UK, given by 29 universities!!! What on earth is happening over there? 
Even within the English-speaking world, the disproportion is tremendous. For 
the US  - the largest anglophone country, we only found one Masters in human 
rights, although it has several excellent international relations and law 
programs to which you can a very strong human rights focus. And we only found 
one Masters in Australia.

In London alone there are now seven universities providing Masters degrees in 
human rights. Until recently there was a joint degree offered by several 
universities, allowing students to choose courses from all schools involved, 
but this has apparently come to an end for reasons which have little to do with 
students' interests.

We certainly seem to be headed for a glut in terms of human rights academic 
study in the UK. This is not necessarily a bad thing for students: it will 
force universities to compete on price and quality. Diversity of offerings will 
also increase, as each university seeks to carve out a niche by specializing in 
a particular area of human rights. It may eventually even force them to 
cooperate together a bit more.

In this light, the Venice degree shines in a very positive light, as a true 
example of cooperation among universities, drawing together each university's 
respective strong points, and providing a very rich learning experience for the 
students. No less than 39 European universities participate, by sending 
professors to teach for a few days in the hyper-active winter semester which 
takes place on the Lido in Venice. This gives the students the chance to 
discover a topic which they really want to explore during the second semester 
and the dissertation. For the second semeser, students then move to one of the 
participating universities, where their preferred topic is taught best. Because 
of this system, the participating human rights institutes, which are often 
small, do not have to worry about offering a full-fledged generalist Masters 
program at home, but can focus on deeper research and teaching in a particular 
area - a far more sensible investment of resources for all involved: the 
student, the institutes, and the taxpayer.

Most other countries only offer one human rights degree, if any. In this 
regard, a special tribute should go to the Raoul Wallenberg institute in Sweden 
and the Danish Institute for Human Rights - they are cooperating with partners 
in other continents on Masters degrees and other training programs in Costa 
Rica, China, Thailand, South Africa, and Uganda:

Another interesting area for comparison is price. In our training section, we 
systematically list tuition fees, because this is an important factor for 
prospective students and we want to provide visibility to universities that 
make an effort to remain affordable. And we noted a great disparity in price: 
some degrees cost tens of thousands of dollars (and exactly how is a human 
rights worker going to pay for that, anyway?), and other degrees are completely 
free! In fact in Sweden its illegal for a public learning institution to charge 
a student. 

Of course the expensive universities will argue that its not their fault that 
their governments do not subsidize them to the extent of the Scandinavian 
countries, and will also quickly point out that they provide some scholarships 
to needy students. Fine, we accept that. But this argument cannot explain 
everything. Have a look at the price disparity among the degrees offered in the 
UK - the better ones are not necessarily the most expensive. Its worth shopping 
around for the best deal - don't give your hard-earned money to universities 
that overcharge.

This brings us to the eternal question: is it worth the expense to go to a 
famous university? Will that label on your CV help get you the dream job? Well, 
a reputable university may not be uniformly good - the department or course you 
are interested in may be badly run by a lazy professor (this happens!). In the 
same vein, a small-town university may have a very dynamic staff who will 
provide you with very close attention and excellent tutoring. 

In other words, its very important to investigate your choice carefully. This 
is why each course on our lists comes with a "Comments"  link where you can add 
comments: please help your peers and add a frank and fair review of both strong 
and weak points. Even if means remaining anonymous. A degree is a major 
investment and we need to know your opinion to make an informed choice.

A final word: beware of application deadlines, this is one of the first things 
to check. It may take some time to put together your application - not to fill 
in the forms of course, but to collect the letters of recommendation you will 
need, from professors who may actually have retired since you graduated (no, we 
are not getting any younger). It would be a shame to be rejected because of an 
application which arrived two days late (this happened to your editor for the 
Venice EMA - how silly!). Even when there is no deadline, if you apply late you 
will diminish your chance of finding a place. 

We hope you will enjoy this new section, and that it will help you find the 
degree of your dreams! 

And as usual, please forward this email to your friends and colleagues, as they 
may also be interesting in taking a year out, or even a short course of two 
weeks. And if you have received this from a friend, sign up here for this 
newsletter here so as not to miss the next one!

Best regards, 

Daniel D'Esposito, editor

PS: if you find a course that is missing on our lists, please let us know by 
responding to
this email.

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