March 5, 2009
Vol. 28 No. 11

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    Students can now earn minor in Human Rights

    By Julia Morse
    News Office

    Joseph Herbert, a 2008 Human Rights intern, poses with children at Mirim-Brasil, in Recife, Brazil, where he worked on equal access to education.

    Since its founding in 1997, the Human Rights Program has prepared students to become better global citizens through the integration of rigorous academic preparation with real-world experience and perspectives. Now the College will offer a minor in Human Rights to students who meet the minor degree requirements.

    “The students who participate in the Human Rights Program go on to do incredible things already,” said Susan Gzesh, Executive Director of the Human Rights Program. “The institution of the Human Rights minor will provide a formal credential for College graduates.”

    Gzesh noted that many College alumni who participated in the Human Rights Program have careers that involve human rights. Human Rights College alumni have found noteworthy career paths, which include creating a new organization to research the conflict in Darfur, setting up a multi-million dollar hedge fund to finance microcredit projects worldwide, providing health care for low-income families in the United States and creating better schools for refugee children in the Middle East.

    “Establishing Human Rights as a College minor will encourage current students to do even more extraordinary work after graduation. They will have the advantage of a diploma, which will demonstrate University support for the serious study of Human Rights,” Gzesh said. “Employers in non-governmental organizations, in government and international agencies, and in other sectors will be impressed.”

    The Human Rights minor will be available immediately, and students who may qualify for the minor should see their advisors before the end of Winter Quarter. College students in the Class of 2009 who have completed enough required courses (five courses not used to qualify for other minors or concentrations) by the end of the school year would receive the acknowledgment on their diplomas.

    “It’s really exciting that we’ll have the opportunity to acknowledge the hard work done by fourth-year students who studied human rights, even prior to the approval of the minor,” Gzesh added.

    Michael Geyer, the Samuel N. Harper Professor in the Department of History and the College, also serves as Director of the Human Rights Program.

    College fourth-year Aruj Chaudhry called the decision a “very important development for College students,” and said she believes she’ll qualify to have Human Rights on the diploma she will receive in June.

    “For me, the question was never why should Human Rights be a minor—the question was, why not?” Chaudhry said.

    “The courses I’ve taken in Human Rights have provided a comprehensive and balanced worldview and helped teach me my role and responsibilities in the world we are all accountable for.”

    Chaudhry added that she believes the College’s decision to allow students to minor in Human Rights further showcases the University’s commitment to the program, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.

    “This is proof that the College recognizes the incredible value these courses, fieldwork and educational experiences provide,” Chaudhry said. “I am a better citizen because of what I learned here.”

    Additional information about the Human Rights Program is available at http://humanrights.uchicago.edu.