Bard News & Events

Press Release

BARD COLLEGE RECEIVES GRANT TO IMPLEMENT COLLABORATIVE HUMAN RIGHTS EXCHANGE PROGRAM Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Awards Bard $320,000 for Interdisciplinary Program Among U.S. and Southern African Institutions

Mark Primoff

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a three-year $320,000 grant to Bard College to implement the International Human Rights Exchange, a new interdisciplinary program in human rights. The collaborative project, which is led by Bard and the University of Cape Town, involves seven universities in South Africa and Zimbabwe and seven United States liberal arts colleges.

The collaboration will allow selected undergraduate students from South Africa, the United States, and Zimbabwe to take part in an intensive, one-month course on human rights in an international setting. The exchange seeks to promote the study and understanding of human rights as part of a broad intellectual and social movement that extends beyond law and legal discourse into fields such as politics, economics, gender studies, environmental studies, and arts.

\"Bard has been working with partner institutions in Africa for about five years. We wanted to build those relationships into a curricular partnership on issues that are urgent for all of us,\" said Susan H. Gillespie, director of Bard’s Institute for International Liberal Education, which initiated the project. \"We chose human rights because of its international, interdisciplinary character, and so far, the collaboration among faculty and administrators from the three countries has been amazingly productive. This summer, the first group of students will join them,\" she explained. \"Basically, we view this as an experiment in turning undergraduate liberal education into a site for the kinds of international comparative study and cooperation that are needed in the context of globalization,\" she said, adding that \"we are especially grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous and imaginative support of this innovative collaboration.\"

Beginning this summer, approximately 75 second- and third-year students will convene in Cape Town, South Africa, to take the interdisciplinary course in the theories and practices of human rights. Most of the students and faculty members will be drawn from the participating institutions, but 10 places have been set aside for students from non-participating institutions and employees of nongovernmental organizations working in the field of human rights.

The intensive four-week program—the equivalent of a semester-long, four-credit course—will include classroom discussions, lectures, and fieldwork such as visits to non-governmental and media organizations, political institutions, and courts. Beyond the unique opportunity the exchange provides the students, the project also aims to encourage more resource-sharing among the collaborating institutions and their faculty and to strengthen American liberal arts colleges’ engagement with Africa.

In addition to Bard and the University of Cape Town, the participating institutions are Bryn Mawr College; Morehouse College; Oberlin College; Spelman College; Swarthmore College; Trinity College; the University of Durban-Westville; the University of Fort Hare; the University of Natal, Durban; the University of the Western Cape; the University of the Witwatersrand; and the University of Zimbabwe.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation also supported the planning phase of the project with a grant in 1999.

For further information about participating in the International Human Rights Exchange, visit IHRE’s website at, or contact the Institute for International Liberal Education at Bard, or 845.758.7080.

back to top

This event was last updated on 03-02-2001