Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Human Rights-Based Community Practice in the U.S.

Kathryn Libal and Scott Harding, both professors of community organization at the University of Connecticut, have published a new social work text titled Human Rights-Based Community Practice in the U.S.  The book's forward provocatively argues that social workers should reframe community-based practices away from need or charity frames and instead around human rights norms as a way to better respond to community needs and avoid paternalistic interventions.  The book features extensive U.S. cases studies, including in-depth examinations of the right to health, the right to housing, the right to food, and the right to water.

Does the publication of this new social work text in early 2015, alongside the fall 2014 publication of the first-of-its-kind law school text Human Rights Advocacy in the United States (full disclosure, I'm a co-author), indicate that the U.S. human rights movement has reached a new milestone in terms of its place in professional education?  While some earlier, well-established texts such as International Human Rights (Alston, et al.) and Social Work and Human Rights (Reichert) also include treatment of U.S. human rights, the more recent texts aim at a more exhaustive and focused coverage.  Hopefully these new teaching texts will contribute to driving the domestic discussion and, over time, influencing the academic canon toward greater recognition of the human rights challenges within the U.S.


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