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Social justice and education

Current projects include:

The pedagogies of Human Rights: Exploration, innovation and activation Prof Baden Offord, A/Prof Caroline Fleay, Dr Lisa Hartley and Dr Yirga Woldeyes (2016 – 2018)

Funded through Humanities Office of Research and Development, Curtin University, 2016–2018.

This project focuses on the development of new research that engages with, understands, investigates, activates, explores and showcases a range of diverse pedagogies of human rights relevant to the challenges of the 21st Century. It aims to deepen and broaden the theoretical, conceptual and practical understandings of how human rights are communicated, experienced, learned and taught in the 21st Century, in both informal and formal contexts, in traditional as well as in innovative ways.

The project will identify and bring together a range of leading and innovative human rights scholars across Australia who share multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approaches to human rights on a suite of issues

Native Colonialism: Education and the economy of violence against tradition in Ethiopia Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes (2016)

The research demonstrates that colonisation is not just a geographically delineated notion that applies only to the control of racialised beings whose territories and natural resources are occupied by foreign powers. It also involves the colonisation of mental spaces whereby the application of selected epistemic rules influence the consciousness of individuals to accept unjust economic and social relationships as natural and inevitable. Native colonisation challenges common assumptions about education and knowledge production by questioning the relevance of a globalised education system to the interests and rights of diverse lives in the 21st century. The research will result in the publication of a book by the renowned publisher Africa World Press & Red Sea Press, New Jersey, USA.

Teaching Human Rights from the Perspective of Diverse Cultures and Religions Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes (2016 - continuing)

The project is funded by Australian Research Theology Foundation Inc.

The third phase of the UN World Program for Human Rights Education (2015-2019) focuses on the teaching of cultural actors such as media professionals and journalists, and the strengthening of the outcomes of the previous two phases. This project aims at contributing research based knowledge to this cause, especially on what and how to teach about human rights from the perspective of diverse backgrounds. The project aims at activating human rights (Offord, 2006) through questions of epistemology and axiology that emerge from diverse histories, cultures and religions.

The principal methodology is a participatory active research that engages students, religious scholars and researchers in an educational environment. Through our Human Rights History across Cultures and Religions Unit, faith-based scholars deliver a series of lectures on human rights from their respective religious or cultural backgrounds. Each of these lectures are followed by one hour evaluative seminars that involve 10-15 students and the researchers. Moreover, six intensive focus group discussions are being organised involving participants from diverse backgrounds. The discussions will focus on inquiry towards human rights values across diverse faiths and cultures, and identifying inclusive languages for human rights teaching practices. One of the expected outcome of the project is the publication of a practical booklet that will be distributed to human rights educators, activists and media professionals.

Critical appreciative dialogue and Human Rights education Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes (2015 – 2016)

The teaching of human rights emphasises the importance of dialogue as a means of co-creating inclusive and desired worlds among diverse identities, worldviews and practices. The main objective of this project is to develop new conceptual and methodological insights for the teaching of human rights from the perspective of diverse cultures and religions. In particular, this project seeks to develop Critical-Appreciative Dialogue as a possible teaching methodology that takes into account the challenges as well as the opportunities that are presented to us due to differences and diversities in religions and cultures.