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The Original Vision

In 1997 an interdisciplinary group of University of Chicago faculty came together around a shared vision of human rights and the contemporary university. 

They could see that the theory and practice of human rights would benefit from engagement across disciplines and professional schools. And they believed that the study of human rights should be a part of a robust liberal arts education.

Powered by this enthusiasm, the support of the Provost, and a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the University of Chicago Human Rights Program was born.

In the below video, early participants in the founding of the program (including Jacqueline Bhaba, Michael Geyer, and Geoffrey Stone) look back on the unique contribution it made to the academic human rights landscape:

Deepening Our Commitment

In 2014 the Human Rights Program was renamed the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, in honor of a generous major gift from Richard, AB’69, and Ann Pozen and their family. 
The Pozen family gift allowed the Center to dramatically expand its reach both within and beyond the University. Thanks to the Pozens, plus substantial new financial support from the University and individual donors, the Center’s budget has increased eightfold in recent years. 

This growth has enabled a new level of commitment to the founding mission of the Center: to provide innovative, interdisciplinary research and teaching initiatives that critically explore the theory and practice of global human rights.

The Center Today

Today a robust slate of human rights courses is taught by faculty from across the university. Since 2009 the Center has offered a Human Rights Minor. In 2016 a Human Rights course was added to The College’s World Civilizations Core sequence for undergraduates. 2022 saw the launch of the Human Rights Major

The Center also offers a study abroad program in Paris, a Visiting Professors program, and support for graduate student research in the forms of fellowships and lectureships.

Since 1998 the Center has run a popular internship program that pairs students with human rights organizations around the world, prepares them for work in the field, and helps them integrate their internship experience with their academic work. 

In 2018 the Center deepened this commitment to practice by launching the Human Rights Lab, an on-campus space from which students can engage directly with the world of human rights practice through a rotating roster of projects.

25th Anniversary Colloquium

In 2022 the Pozen Center celebrated its 25th anniversary with a colloquium examining challenges to the global implementation of human rights. This colloquium was covered by UChicago News and recorded for posterity: