Human Rights Education Review: Call for papers: Language learning and human rights education 

Guest editors: Tony Burner and Melina Porto

Human Rights Education Review invites papers for a Special Issue on the intersection of language learning and human rights education. We invite submissions that explore this intersection, considering, in particular:

  • What is the role of language education in enabling students to address and challenge the injustices (linguistic and otherwise) they face in their lives on a daily basis?
  • What is the role of language education in contributing to building democratic, peaceful, just, and sustainable societies where human rights are respected?

In other words, how are language education and human rights education interconnected?

The last 20 years has witnessed a rise of nationalism in which linguistic diversity and multilingualism are presented as a threat to nationhood and the status quo, with a frequent emphasis on one-nation-one-language, and a denial of ethnic roots. Yet language education may play an essential role in realizing human rights, and human rights serve to protect language education. The term linguistic human rights (LHR) is frequently used today, yet we observe there is surprisingly little in international human rights instruments addressing LHR, compared to other rights such as those relating to gender, race, and religion.

Language learning raises a range of ethical issues. What gets represented in and through the languages used, valued, welcomed, and fostered in and outside classrooms, and what is hidden? Whose rights are denied, whose freedom of expression is quashed? What can language learners express? What can they not express? These questions invite analysis of language learners’ rights, freedom of expression (for example, creative, artistic, performative, embodied) and freedom of belief, as experienced in and outside of formal language learning arenas. They also invite reflection on the ultimate aim of language education and language learning.

For this special issue of Human Rights Education Review, we encourage papers from a range of perspectives and from different international contexts. We welcome papers that focus, in the words of the 2011 UN Declaration on Education and Training, on education aboutthrough and/or for human rights. Education about rights might explore, for example, opportunities in the language learning classroom to enhance and strengthen human rights knowledge and understanding. Education through rights might consider the degree to which language learning methodologies are in keeping with human rights principles. Education for rights might look at language learning as a means of enabling learners to claim their rights or act to defend the rights of others.   

We invite papers that address the intersection of language learning and human rights education, including, but not limited to the following topics:

  • Human rights education through the language curriculum
  • Language learning as an antidote to ethno-nationalism and rights denial
  • Language learning and education for global/ cosmopolitan citizenship
  • Human rights and language learning methodologies
  • Minority language use in education as a human rights issue
  • Developing language skills to defend human rights
  • Language learning and students’ freedom of expression
  • Language learning and the recognition of complex identities

If you would like to make a submission in response to the CfP please send an extended abstract of no more than 300 words to the Managing Editor of Human Rights Education Review Marta Stachurska-Kounta: by 24 October 2022. Your abstract should include a short list of indicative literature on which you expect to draw, from the fields of both language learning and human rights education. Please ensure you use the subject line: HRER: Language learning and human rights education in your email. You will hear back from us by 7 November 2022. All invited manuscripts will be subject to double-blind peer review. Submission of the full paper is due by 6 March 2023. We expect to publish the Special Issue in Volume 7(1) in January 2024.

Human Rights Education Review is an award winning, open access journal, that publishes original research and scholarship. Authors retain the copyright of their own work, and no charges are made to authors or readers. By publishing in HRER you have the opportunity of reaching the widest possible international readership. You can view previous issues of the journal here and learn more about HRER editorial policies. 

Tony Burner is Professor of English Language Education in the Department of Languages and Literature Studies, University of South-Eastern Norway, Norway

Melina Porto is Professor of English Language Education at Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP), Argentina

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