The University of Winnipeg



UWinnipeg students to visit parliament and the United Nations

Students participating in UN Study Tour, with Professor Marilou McPhedran (front row, 3rd from left)

Students participating in UN Study Tour, with Professor Marilou McPhedran (front row, 3rd from left)

Students at The University of Winnipeg are gearing up for a visit to Canada’s House of Parliament in Ottawa, followed by a trip to the United Nations in New York City.  The trip is part of a field course in Global College’s Human Rights and Global Studies (HRGS) program.  Professor and former Principal of UWinnipeg’s Global College, Marilou McPhedran will lead the students from October 27 – November 1, 2013 as they witness the inner workings of the government and the United Nations.

Students fly to Ottawa where they will visit Canada’s House of Parliament and the headquarters for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.  They will have the opportunity to meet with ambassadors and senior government officials.  McPhedran states that 80% of students in this country never go to the capitol and have never been on Parliament Hill; noting that the experience allows them to understand the process and dynamics between government and diplomacy.

From there, “New York becomes our classroom,” says McPhedran, adding that students will “see the real politics of diplomacy in a UN setting.”  The group will be hosted by the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations where they will receive briefings from senior UN officials and attend sessions of the Security Council at UN Headquarters among others.

Those participating in the field course range from a first-year Communications student to fourth-year Human Rights majors.  Brittany McFadyen is a third-year student working towards a double major in Human Rights and Political Science who says she is really looking forward to visiting the UN: “It gives us the chance to do things that most people wouldn’t get to do.”

Several of the students have been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to take this field course after participating in another Global College offering: Adventures in Global Citizenship Summer Institute.  This course, in cooperation with the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, and with scholarship support from Rotary 5550 World Peace Partners, examines the voices, perspectives, and actions of individuals working at human rights issues in Manitoba.

Both of these courses offer students a unique, experiential learning opportunity. McPhedran emphasizes the need for an academic program that has a strong practical component:

“The courses require a shift in emphasis away from the more academic aspect of studying human rights, to really focusing on what I have called for many years, ‘lived rights’.  This means students see first-hand the many steps along the way between the words on paper and actually changing people’s lives.”

The Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights and Global Studies program at The University of Winnipeg’s Global College is Canada’s first undergraduate-level degree program in Human Rights and remains one of only a few such programs in the world.  UWinnipeg’s Global College fosters global citizenship and engagement in human rights through interdisciplinary teaching, research, dialogue, and action in local and global communities.

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