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Human rights education 'now more than ever!'

NOV. 30-DEC. 3: An international conference at Concordia tackles diversity, inclusion, violence and extremism
November 1, 2017
By J. Latimer

Youth from the St-Michel neighbourhood in Montreal participate in an Equitas human rights program for young women leaders. | Photo courtesy of Maison d’Haiti Youth participate in an Equitas human rights program for young women leaders. | Photo courtesy Maison d’Haiti

If you ask Concordia’s Richard Schmid about the current state of human rights around the world, prepare for an impassioned reply.

“It has been a rough few years,” says the educational psychologist and professor in the Department of Education. “When you see what’s happening around the world regarding diversity, it is a tsunami we must fight against.”

“We” refers to organizers and participants of the 8th International Conference on Human Rights Education (ICHRE), co-hosted by Concordia and Equitas from November 30 to December 3 and organized in collaboration with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, McGill, UQAM and Western Sydney University.

Bridging our Diversities will assemble between 300 and 400 participants from more than 50 countries for practical workshops and insightful sessions on the latest tools, knowledge and good practices in human rights education.

Conference speakers will include Concordia graduates Douglas Janoff (MA 91), Nicole Fournier-Sylvester (PhD 16), Vincenza Nazzari (Cert 80, MA 01).

Young Canadians come together to promote gender equality as part of the Speaking Rights Program.| Photo courtesy of Equitas Young Canadians promote gender equality as part of the Speaking Rights Program. | Photo courtesy of Equitas

Equitas and academia

“Concordia was a natural choice to co-host, given our longstanding relationship with the university,” says Ian Hamilton, executive director of Equitas.

“Particularly relevant is the university’s Educational Technology Program and its reputation for being actively engaged in supporting social justice and the work of community organizations.”

Hamilton says the numbers speak for themselves: more than 120 Concordia students, faculty and alumni have contributed to Equitas’ work and global impact over the years.

Share grassroots strategies and lessons learned

“Our goal is to gather practitioners, policy-makers, NGOs and academics around the same table to explore solutions to challenges related to diversity, inclusion, violence and extremism,” says Schmid, a member of the conference’s organizing committee.

Participants — especially practitioners — will be encouraged to share grassroots strategies and lessons learned in the field. Organizers plan to fully document the conference’s outcomes and post them online for free consultation.

The conference dovetails nicely with Concordia’s ongoing commitment to look outward, embracing societies’ current challenges.

“Students and researchers from multiple disciplines are doing innovative work on human rights,” says André Roy, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science.

“The conference will generate pertinent reflections on issues within the educational context with the collaboration of Equitas. Richard deserves much credit for bringing this event to Concordia.”

Mission critical

Schmid claims we need human rights education now more than ever.

“Like-minded people need to continue to get the truth, not fake news,” says the expert in educational technology.

He sees human rights education as “the long game” with no quick fix.

“We must work with, and within communities as partners in change. HRE sometimes requires the most difficult change of all, that of culture. Coming to understand and respect universal human rights can shape that transition.”

Register to attend
Bridging our Diversities, the 8th International Conference on Human Rights Education at Concordia from November 30 to December 3. 



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