Human Rights Faculty Receive Grand Challenges Grant to Tackle Barriers to Equality and Justice

February 11, 2019

The University of Minnesota human rights faculty has been awarded a $325,000 Grand Challenges Research Grant. The grant will support “The Minnesota Model,” an interdisciplinary initiative to understand and propose solutions to the recent backsliding in human rights around the world. This project builds on and expands the Minnesota Human Rights Lab.

The research grant—one of only six awarded across the entire University—will be administered jointly by the Law School’s Human Rights Center and the Human Rights Program in the College of Liberal Arts. The Grand Challenges awards were created to foster collaboration in addressing the critical challenges of our state, nation, and world.

“This grant recognizes the intellectual contributions of our faculty and propels our collective work to advance protections of free speech, dignity, justice and equality, the principles that undergird the global consensus on human rights,” noted Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Regents Professor at the Law School and faculty director of the Human Rights Center.

Barbara Frey, a Senior Lecturer in Global Studies and the director of the Human Rights Program in the College of Liberal Arts, observed: “By engaging graduate students with leading faculty and innovative partner organizations, this initiative will mobilize the next generation of human rights leaders to generate solutions to complex challenges such as inequality, discrimination and violations of human rights.”

The Minnesota Model is composed of 14 research projects, divided as follows:

  • Six strategic research partnerships between academic researchers and practitioner organizations;
  • Six new faculty-led projects in the Human Rights Lab; and
  • Two NGO-led projects also through the Human Rights Lab.

The initiative will bring together faculty and graduate student researchers with human rights partners in the field, including non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations working to advance human rights.

Participating in the effort are more than 30 professors whose work spans a diverse spectrum of disciplinary approaches to human rights issues, including education, environment, humanities, journalism, law, medicine, nursing, public health, public policy, and social sciences.

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