Enabling a critical pedagogy of human rights in higher education through de-colonising methodologies


  • Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes Curtin University
  • Baden Offord Curtin University


critical human rights education, critical pedagogy, de-colonising methodologies


This article tackles specific issues that arise in teaching human rights in a Western academic institution. As critical human rights scholars, we are concerned with a pedagogy of human rights that gives respect to cultural diversity and the cross-cultural applicability of concepts and social issues in ways that are not antithetical to the purpose of human rights itself. In the Australian context where we are located both as human rights educators and immigrants, our approach depends on giving critical attention to questions of colonialism and its aftermath; to how contemporary human rights are understood across diverse cultures and subjectivities; and how to enable decolonising methodologies to ensure an ethical exchange and negotiation of human rights learning and teaching in a higher education context. Our approach is significant since contemporary Australia is an immigrant nation, a settler colonial society that is located in the South and yet problematically, dominated by ontological and epistemological orientations towards the North. We argue that a critical pedagogy of human rights involves a robust non-colonising and ethical engagement that is both self-reflexive and aware of complicit power relations. We seek to interrogate power as understood through the relationship between lived experience, knowledge and education. In our article we examine, through examples in our own teaching practice, how we seek to create and enable a critical pedagogical space that allows such an ethical engagement to take place.






Vol 17(1) Special Edition