Spotlight On: Human Rights

Dr. Kristi Kenyon photo

Photo: Josh Boyter/Numbers Station Charlie



Studying human rights exposes students to issues from diverse perspectives – including conflict resolution, gender studies, international development studies, politics, religious studies and more. UWinnipeg’s program takes an interdisciplinary approach to courses, while letting students structure their education around social justice, global citizenship, and human rights themes.

One of the pioneering human rights majors in Canada, the program leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree (3-year or 4-year). Students taking a 4-year degree in another major may add a minor in Human Rights.

Students in the program have opportunities to learn by experience by taking field courses; 4-year BA students are required to do either a local or international practicum.

Kristi Kenyon

Photo: Josh Boyter/Numbers Station Charlie

Assoc. Professor: Dr. Kristi Kenyon


Kenyon is the newest member of the arts faculty in the human rights program. She comes to UWinnipeg having held post-doctoral fellowships at Dalhousie University and the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

Born in BC, Kenyon’s interest in human rights was sparked by a lifelong passion for all things political. She became involved with World University Service of Canada while doing her undergrad, which she says sparked interest in a career with “international dimensions.”

Soon she found herself working in development in Malaysia, followed by stints in government and NGO positions as far away as Botswana. She also earned an interdisciplinary master’s degree in human rights and a PhD in political science, and her current research is focused on how human rights concepts are shared and understood among activists in Southern Africa. Kenyon says she’s really excited to be teaching at UWinnipeg. “It’s great to have the opportunity to be in a program, and in a place, where human rights is really at the forefront.”

Teruni Walaliyadde

Photo: UWinnipeg

Student: Teruni Walaliyadde


A passion for human rights study came naturally for Walaliyadde. “I was pushed toward social justice,” she says, recalling the role her parents played as lawyers in civil war gripped Sri Lanka. “My mom was very much into helping out women and children, especiallybattered women and children.”

Walaliyadde immigrated to Canada as a pre-school teacher in 2009, with plans to advance her education. She says UWinnipeg’s Global College was the obvious choice because of the unique human rights major, which she later combined with a major in conflict resolution studies. She especially appreciates how well the small class sizes facilitate discussion around difficult topics and learning through dialogue.

Walaliyadde has earned numerous scholarships at UWinnipeg, and learned through experience: she taught in Thailand for her degree practicum, travelled to the UN as part of an experiential course, and she will travel to Columbia for a field course in May.

Maddie Perlman photoAlumna: Maddie Perlman


Perlman went from UWinnipeg to Oxford, and today she’s on track to be a lawyer. After graduating from UWInnipeg with her degree in human rights and conflict resolution studies in 2008, Perlman earned a master’s degree in refugee and forced migration studies at the University of Oxford in England, before returning to Winnipeg for law school at University of Manitoba.

“I really hold my experience at UWinnipeg close to me in everything I do,” says Perlman, noting that the culture at Global College fostered a sense of “engagement and involvement” in community and in critical conversations. She also found the multidisciplinary nature of the program beneficial, for choice and breadth.

Perlman continues to be most fascinated with areas of law she discovered at UWinnipeg’s Global College, particularly refugee and international human rights law. “I believe the law is a really powerful tool and I hope I can use the law to help others, and make the law work for everyone.”

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