Elizabeth Philipson

Summer School (USA) participant
Universitas 21

I have always had a strong interest in Human Rights and have engaged with the issue by volunteering with Amnesty International, UN Youth Australia and completing internships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As a student of International Relations and Peace and Conflict Studies I have also had the opportunity to study Human Rights from an academic perspective.

I was motivated to participate in the U21 Human Rights Summer School to further my academic experience and deepen my understanding of Human Rights and the inherent complexities. I hoped to explore the relationship between Human Rights theory and practice to better understand my classroom studies compared to my practical Human Rights experiences in Australia and Malaysia.

Participating in the U21 Human Rights Summer School deepened my understanding of Human Rights and provided me with an opportunity to explore the complexities of Human Rights theory and practice in an open, supportive environment. I had the opportunity to hear from, and ask questions of academics and professionals engaged in research, non-governmental organisations and the United Nations. I also feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet, network and build friendships with like-minded peers from around the world.

The highlight of my experience at the U21 Human Rights Summer School was the many conversations with my peers from around the world. We discussed our different perspectives, how we felt about readings and speakers, human rights in our home countries, and our plans for putting everything we had learned into action. We also completed group projects, which were presented on the final day. This was a great opportunity to collaborate with others and create a project that reflected our experiences over the two-week summer school.

The program was very challenging, as I had hoped for! The views I developed throughout my time studying and working within the field of Human Rights were challenged by the academics, professionals, and students that I met and spoke to. We discussed challenging concepts such as the philosophical foundation of Human Rights, cultural relativism and universalism, collectivism and individualism, the question of neo-imperialism, United States exceptionalism, East and West perspectives on Human Rights and the role of United Nations Conventions and Treaties. I have returned with an extensive reading list that I’m looking forward to starting, in order to continue my learning and exposure to new ideas and arguments on Human Rights. I am also looking forward to engaging with Human Rights activism in Australia with a deepened knowledge on the issues.

U21 Summer School is a fantastic opportunity to challenge yourself, hear from amazing speakers and meet new friends from around the world. My tip for anyone considering going is to be as prepared as possible. The more reading and preparation you do, the more you will get out of the sessions. If you have the opportunity, travel before or after the program to fully experience the host country.

My UQ Advantage is the international experience and international network I have gained through programs offered by UQ, including the U21 Human Rights Summer School.


Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Science