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Bard: South Africa: International Human Rights Exchange (IHRE)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Program Terms: Fall
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Homepage: Click to visit
Program Sponsor: Bard College 
Restrictions: CU applicants only
Fact Sheet:
 Lang. of Instruction:
 Program Type:
Direct Enrollment
 Minimum GPA:
3.0 Housing: Dormitory/Residence Hall
 A&S Approved?:
conditional Fields of Instruction: African Studies, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Economics, Gender Studies, Government (Political Science), History, Humanities, International Relations, Law, Social Policy, Sociology, War Studies
 Class Rank:
freshman, junior, senior, sophomore Study Abroad Advisor : Libby Okihiro
Program Description:

International Human Rights Exchange Logo

Program Overview

The International Human Rights Exchange (IHRE) is the world's only full-semester, multidisciplinary program in human rights. The program is housed at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa and is a joint venture with Bard College. Viewing human rights through a comparative global lens, IHRE brings students and faculty from both Africa and North America together in an intensive dialogue regarding the study and practice of human rights.


The required core course, Human Rights: Perspectives from the Disciplines, draws on the South African experience to introduce significant materials on human rights, discuss different disciplinary perspectives within the field, and consider issues of apartheid and transitional justice as a lens through which to explore issues of human rights.

Most students also enroll in the core seminar, Engagement in Human Rights, which is paired with an internship at a local NGO. The seminar examines the varied practices of human rights advocacy.

Students also choose from more than 12 electives exploring human rights from the perspective of a variety of academic disciplines, including:

  • Development, Welfare Economics and Human Rights
  • Gender and Human Rights
  • Human Rights and African Literature
  • Human Rights and Culture
  • Human Rights and the Media
  • Islam and Human Rights
  • Migration and Human Rights
  • Philosophy of Human Rights
  • Politics and Human Rights
  • Psychosocial Perspectives on Human Rights and Social Justice
  • State Sovereignty and Human Rights
  • Theater and Human Rights


Through the internship component, students undertake substantive human rights work under the guidance of an in-house mentor, working approximately 10 hours a week, on Thursdays and Fridays. Internship projects typically include involvement in one or more of the following types of activities: research, advocacy, training, editing, and/or event coordination. IHRE works with an impressive array of NGOs, all of which are working on the front lines to promote and protect human rights in post-apartheid South Africa.

NGO Partners

  • Action Support Centre
  • AIDS Consortium
  • Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF)
  • Black Sash
  • Children of Fire
  • Civil Society Watch/CIVICUS
  • The Edge Institute
  • Freedom of Expression Institute
  • Forced Migration Studies Programme
  • Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action
  • Habitat for Humanity - South Africa
  • Homeless Talk
  • Human Rights Institute of South Africa
  • Jet Education Services
  • Khulumani Support Group
  • Lawyers for Human Rights
  • Legal Resources Centre
  • Market Photo Workshop
  • Planact
  • Reproductive Health and HIV Research Unit
  • Sonke Gender Justice Project
  • Soul City Institute for Health & Development Communication
  • South African Human Rights Commission
  • South African Non-Governmental Organization Network
  • Steve Biko Foundation
  • Street Law Project
  • Tomorrow Trust
  • Tshwararang Legal Centre
  • Women's Net

Additional Program Highlights

Participants explore human rights challenges in rural South African through a Community Human Rights Workshop at Wits Rural, visit the Apartheid Museum and other relevant sites, and attend guest lectures by human rights experts from South Africa and around the world.

Who Should Apply?

Students with a commitment to social justice and/or a history of academic or personal involvement with human rights are particularly encouraged to consider IHRE. The breadth and depth of the IHRE curriculum, combined with the exposure to human rights issues seen from the African perspectives and in the context of South Africa's recent history, are especially valuable for students preparing to embark on a career in social justice or human rights. At the same time, we encourage students of all backgrounds to apply. No previous study of human rights is required.

Program Dates & Cost

IHRE takes place from late June through mid-November in accordance with the second semester of the Wits academic calendar. Students from North American institutions forgo their fall semester of studies in participate in IHRE. Prior to the start of classes in mid-July students participate in both a pre-departure workshop at Bard College and the Community Human Rights Workshop at Wits Rural.

Information on program costs, fees and scholarship opportunities can be found on our website.

Application Deadline

The annual deadline to apply is March 1st. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

For More Information

Institute for International Liberal Education / Bard College, Tel: (845) 758-7081, E-mail:, Website:

Dates / Deadlines:
There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
This program is currently not accepting applications.