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Master of Human Rights: First-of-its-kind degree in Canada

November 5, 2018 — 

The Faculty of Law of the University of Manitoba is pleased to announce the first Master of Human Rights (MHR) graduate degree program to be offered in Canada. This interdisciplinary professional program will train students both practically and academically for careers in human rights work, in collaboration with the faculties of Arts, Education, and Social Work and the Centre for Human Rights Research, the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice in St. Paul’s College, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

Dr. Jonathan Black-Branch, Dean of Law says, “The fragility of human rights protection requires trained professionals to monitor and enforce such protections, without which individuals are vulnerable. This new master’s degree represents a monumental development for the faculty in bringing together a wide range of disciplines under this exciting professional degree. Indeed, it is a significant opportunity for the university, the Province of Manitoba and for Canada as a whole.”

Dr. David Barnard, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manitoba states, “Protecting human rights and ensuring social justice requires vigilance; it requires careful study, critical thinking, open minds, and bold ideas. We can provide that here at the University of Manitoba.”

According to the Director of Peace and Conflict Studies, Dr. Adam Muller, who helped design the new program, students wanting well-rounded training in human rights law, theory and human-rights-specific quantitative and qualitative research methods have often needed to go to the U.S. or Europe. This kind of training is typically expected for positions with organizations like the Red Cross and the United Nations, Muller explains. “As a result, Canada was losing a chance to educate generations of students in a domestic context marked by distinct (and emulated) legal traditions, memory cultures, and mechanisms of historical redress.”

“For all kinds of reasons, it makes sense to house the program in Law,” says Muller, pointing to scholars in the Faculty of Law already pursuing work in human rights. He noted that the Dean of Law worked in the United Kingdom prior to assuming his position at the U of M in 2016, so he is “very familiar with the kind of program we have proposed, and with the kind of students it will attract.”

“We believe that this arrangement will be win-win for all of the parties concerned,” Muller says.

“For the University of Manitoba to offer this kind of program,” Black-Branch says, “demonstrates academic leadership in having such a degree that will focus on professional development and promote the importance of protecting human rights globally.”

The MHR program will soon begin accepting applications for its first intake of students in the fall of 2019.  More information is available at the Master of Human Rights page on the Robson Hall, Faculty of Law website.

The University of Manitoba is also home to a cross-faculty Chair in Human Rights and Social Justice, endowed by a gift from the Mauro Family Foundation. Read more about how this Chair consolidates existing research activities while forging connections and intervening in local and global human rights issues. In addition, Chancellor Harvey Secter and his wife Sandra Secter have made a gift to the University of Manitoba in support of graduate students in the Master of Human Rights program.

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