Felisa Tibbitts is Chair in Human Rights Education in the Department of Law, Economics and Governance at Utrecht University and a Lecturer in the International Education Development Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is also UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and Higher Education. Her research interests include peace, human rights and (global) democratic citizenship education; curriculum policy and reform; critical pedagogy; education and social movements; and human rights and higher education transformation. 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).
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 Foundations. Dr. Tibbitts is widely read in the field of human rights education and her scholarship has appeared in numerous books and journals including the Comparative Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, Journal of Peace Research, Intercultural Education, Prospects: Quarterly Review of Comparative Education and the International Review of Education.
Previously she was an adjunct faculty member at the Harvard School of Education and the UN-Mandated University for Peace and she remains affiliated with the Nelson Mandela University in South Africa. She co-founded the NGO Human Rights Education Associates (HREA – www.hrea.org), 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.
Chair in Human Rights Education, Utrecht University (2017-)
Research and promote evidence-based policy on human rights education, with a focus on higher education and the training of professionals. Lecture, supervise doctoral students and organize public events.
Lecturer, Teachers College of Columbia University (2013-4) (2016 – present)
Teach courses on peace and human rights education; international education and national development; international organizations, civil society, and peace education; and monitoring and evaluation. Advise students on their Master’s thesis, support student groups and organize public events. Superior evaluations of teaching from students.
Affiliated Professor and Research Fellow, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa (2017-present)
Conduct lectures, supervise doctoral students and carry out research/writing on education and human rights.
Adjunct Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Education (2010- 2013)
Taught module “Human Rights in Education” for Master and Doctoral candidates; supported and supervised independent studies of students and organized conference, panels and speakers at the Education School. Excellent to superior evaluations of teaching from students.
Human Rights Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2009-2010, 2011-2013)
Co-taught “Tools for Human Rights Practice” for Master and Doctoral candidates, organized the Human Rights Training Series and supported student career development. Superior evaluations of teachings from students.
Visiting Professor, United Nations University for Peace (2008- 2013)
Two-week course on Human Rights Education for Master’s students in Gender Studies and Peace Education.
Visiting Professor, Centre for Human Rights Education, Teachers College of Luzerne, Switzerland (2012- 2014). One-week intensive course on human rights education practice for adult learners.
Awards and Grants
UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and Higher Education (2019-2022).
2018 CIES Innovation Award. Grant issued by Comparative International Education Society.
2016 Ed O’Brien Award for Human Rights Education, issued by Human Rights Educators USA.
Fulbright Specialist in higher education, with a focus on citizenship and human rights education. Based at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Lund, Sweden, fall 2014.
Human Rights Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2009-11)
Certificate of Merit Award, Conference of Eastern Educators Research Association (1991) for the paper “The Courtship and Consequences of Liberalization: A Snapshot of Educational Restructuring in Central East Europe”.
Harvard Institute for International Development research grant recipient (1990). This grant subsidized field work in five countries in Central and Eastern Europe shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Pforzheimer Fellow (1989-90). Merit scholarships awarded to incoming doctoral students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Board and Advisory Experiences
Trustee for: Human Rights Education Associates (2000-2010); Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (2009-2012); IBRAK (2013-present).
Advisory Group member for:
- University and College Consortium for Human Rights Education (2019 – present)
- Advisory Working Group on the Development of Technical Tools for Human Rights Defenders, OSCE/ODIR (2018 to present)
- Brookings-UNESCO Learning Metrics Task Force for Global Citizenship Education (2014 – present)
- International Human Rights Education Symposium (2014, 2015)
- UNESCO Expert Advisory Group on Global Citizenship Education (2013-present)
- Organization of the American States Advisory Council on Democratic and Human Rights Education
- HELP of the Council of Europe (2013- present)
- Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2013-5)
- Human Rights Center of the UN-mandated University for Peace (2012-2014)
- Think Tank for North-South Centre of Council of Europe (2011-13)
- Amnesty International-USA, Steering Committee for Human Rights Education (2000-2002).
Editorial Board member for Intercultural Education. In addition, have reviewed submissions for: Acta Academia, Comparative Education Review, Democracy Education, Educational Philosophy and Theory, Prospects, International Review of Education, International Studies Perspectives, Journal of Human Rights, Journal of the Study of Religion, Law, Democracy and Development.
Co-Founder and Co-Chair (2011-2013) of Human Rights Educators USA network; currently on Steering Committee.
Public Events Organized (selective)
“The Role of Education in the Prevention of Mass Atrocities”. October 15, 2019. Address by Dr. Koumbou Boly Barry, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Teachers College of Columbia University
“Human and Social Dimensions of Peace” event carried out in 2017, 2018 and 2019 at Teachers College with Peace Education students.
“Can Human Rights Help Schools?” June 23, 2017. Organized on behalf of the Netherlands Centre for Human Rights (SIM) and UGLOBE, Department of Law, Economics and Governance, Utrecht University (Netherlands). Panelists from academia and practice commented on current and prospective human rights dimensions of curriculum, teacher training, whole school approaches and partnerships in Dutch schools.
“Taking Stock and Next Steps National Summit. Human Rights Education – Part I.” March 25, 2016. Washington, DC. Organized and co-moderated on behalf of HRE USA this public event with panelists from well respected NGOs active in human rights education, as a follow-up to the HRE Stakeholder Report submitted for the Second Cycle of the US UPR in 2015. Two members of the U.S. Department of Education attended.
“Public Consultation on the Status of HRE in U.S. Schools”. July 25, 2014. Boston, Massachusetts. Moderated on behalf of HRE USA/HREA public input on the draft stakeholder report on HRE that was developed for the Second Cycle of the US UPR.
Organized “Human Rights Training Series” (2011-2013), a series of applied workshops with guest practitioners open to the public and members of the Harvard community on topics such as lobbying, monitoring human rights, strategic activism and human rights education.
“Building a Human Rights Education Strategy for U.S. Schools”. September 16-17, 2011. Co-organized and co-moderated this national symposium that brought together over 75 educators, students, higher education faculty, members of non-profit organizations, teacher unions and other stakeholders to develop a national strategy draft that resulted in the founding of HRE USA.
I have personally organized numerous panels, guest speakers and film showings on human rights education topics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Teachers College of Columbia University. I have also participated as a speaker in over 50 events organized by NGOs, educational institutions, and inter-governmental agencies organized in all parts of the world. In 2015-6 alone, these groups have included the Council of Europe’s North-South Centre, Primary Source (US NGO), the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the Raoul Wallenberg Centre, the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights and New York University.
Education International (EI) Brussels, BELGIUM
Coordinator of Research
Senior manager overseeing and supporting research and publications carried out by the EI Research Institute, the EI Research Network, critical friends and other EI affiliates. Represent EI in international forums related to educational measurement, such as PISA.
Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) Boston, USA
Co-Founder and Executive Director (1996-2011). Senior Advisor (2012 – 2015)
Senior manager and technical specialist for innovative programs in human rights, law-related, peace and civic education. Focus includes policy development, materials development, training, and evaluation. Projects carried out in Armenia, China, Croatia, and Morocco.
Netherlands Helsinki Committee (1993-1996) Utrecht, Netherlands
Coordinator, Human Rights Education Programmes.
Project manager and technical assistant for $1.5 M human rights education programs in Romania, Albania, Estonia and the Ukraine, entailing curricular development, materials pre-testing, teacher training and organizational development. These national programs resulted in the development of over half a million new texts in political education, over a dozen national trainings, and new civics subject standards.
Comparative International Education Society, Co-Chair of Citizenship and Democratic Education Special Interest Group (2014-6); American Educational Research Association; Academic Council on the United Nations System; International Studies Association.