‘Finally an academic approach that prepares you for the real world’: simulations for human rights skills development in higher education

09 September 2019

Effectively addressing violations of human rights requires dealing with complex, multi-spatial problems involving actors at local, national and international levels. It also calls for a diverse range of inter-disciplinary skills. How can tertiary educators prepare students for such work? This study evaluates the coordinated implementation of human rights simulations at seven Australian universities. Based on quantitative and qualitative survey data from 252 students, we find they report that human rights simulation exercises develop their skills. In particular, students report that they feel better able to analyse and productively respond to human rights violations, and that they have a greater awareness of the inter-disciplinary skills required to do so. Overall, this study finds that simulations are a valid, scalable, classroom-based work integrated learning experience that can be adapted for students at undergraduate and postgraduate level, across a range of disciplines and in both face-to-face and online classes.