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Felisa Tibbitts appointed UNESCO Chair in Human Rights in Higher Education

Education International congratulates Felisa Tibbitts for her nomination as UNESCO Chair in Human Rights in Higher Education.

Felisa Tibbitts was appointed on 12 February UNESCO Chair in Human Rights in Higher Education at the Dutch Utrecht University. The main purpose of the newly established chair is to promote an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation on human rights education and human rights-based approaches within universities. Launched in 1992, the UNITWIN (University Twinning and Networking)/UNESCO Chairs Programme, which involves over 700 institutions in 116 countries, promotes international inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work.

“I am truly delighted to be appointed to this UNESCO Chair position as it will allow me to strengthen the international dimension of my research on human rights and higher education,” Tibbitts underlined.

She added that “this is a challenging time for higher education in different parts of the world as institutions grapple with issues of accessibility and inclusion.” 

Tibbitts currently occupies the Carla Atzema-Looman Chair in Human Rights Education, with special attention for Women’s Rights, at Utrecht University, the very first chair in human rights education in the Netherlands. Her research interests include peace, human rights and democratic citizenship education; curriculum policy and reform; critical pedagogy; and education and social movements. She was a Fulbright Fellow at Lund University, Sweden (Fall 2014) and a Human Rights Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (2011-2013).

Numerous top publications

She has published practical resources on curriculum, program development and evaluation on behalf of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNICEF, UNESCO, OSCE/ODIHR, the Council of Europe and non-governmental organizations, such as Amnesty International and the Open Society Foundation. She is widely read in the field of human rights education and her scholarship has appeared in numerous books and journals including the Journal of Peace Research, Intercultural Education, Prospects and the International Review of Education. She is senior editor of the Information Age Book Series “Critical Perspectives in Democratic Citizenship Education.”

Previous occupations

Tibbetts was an adjunct faculty member at the Harvard School of Education and the UN-Mandated University for Peace and she remains affiliated with the Institute of Reconciliation and Social Justice in South Africa. She co-founded the NGO Human Rights Education Associates, which she directed from 1999-2011 and remains active in international HRE networks. She received her bachelor degree and two Masters’ (Public Policy, Education) from Harvard University and her D.Phil in Political Science from the Otto-von-Guericke Universität of Magdeburg.

EI General Secretary David Edwards commented on the appointment of Tibbetts, “Felisa has done pioneering work on human rights in education that has always been of value, but has assumed an even greater importance given recent challenges to human rights, democracy, and education. EI has worked closely with her and hopes and expects to continue that excellent, ongoing relationship”.


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