Human Rights Lab

Large crowd behind a banner with words in Spanish, backlit by the sun

The Human Rights Lab

The Human Rights Lab is an innovative, interdisciplinary initiative that seeks to build the capacity of faculty and students at the University of Minnesota to investigate and model ways that cutting-edge research can be used more effectively with NGOs, communities, institutions, and policymakers to reduce inequalities in the enjoyment of human rights.

Designed by a group of faculty across several colleges and degree programs, joint endeavor provides space for faculty and students to build on areas of established expertise and leadership, as well as on the existing institutional foundation at the University for excellence in human rights research, teaching, and outreach.

The lab was catalyzed by the University’s Grand Challenges strategic initiative and made possible through the award of one of the highly competitive Grand Challenge Exploratory Research Grants as seed money for 2016-2018. The initiative was awarded an additional $325,000 in Grand Challenges funding in 2018 which is being put toward the development of the groundbreaking "Minnesota Model."

The Human Rights Lab makes significant advances in human rights research and student experiential interdisciplinary training. The lab prioritizes projects that reduce inequalities by making meaningful contributions with partners that are on the frontlines of promoting the rights of marginalized groups. Through the labs, we build our lasting capacity as a nationally and internationally recognized "Human Rights University."

Current lab projects focus on creating a database on disappearances and impunity in Mexico, using a human rights framework through which to understand municipal policies seeking to push against restrictive federal immigration and refugee policies, and exploring the health-related experiences of LGBTQ+ urban refugees in Kenya. All of the projects bring together interdisciplinary scholars and current students that make for dynamic and collaborative research teams.