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Normativity and Reality of Human Rights

Summer school, Padova, July 8-14, 2018

The first edition of the summer school on “Normativity and Reality of Human Rights” critically addresses the interplay between norms and facts about human rights, with a special focus on: Health, Environment, and Migrations.

The overall aim of the Summer School is to reflect on the challenges for human rights normative systems stemming from the variety of situations in which human rights are operationalised. The normative/factual fault lines, the chasm between law and reality, are investigated not only in terms of compliance gaps, but also as opportunities for expanding and renovating the legal, ethical and philosophical articulations of current human rights concepts. Methodologically, this implies interdisciplinarity, and a systematic back and forth from the global to the local dimensions, and from normative to empirical perspectives.

The 2018 curriculum focuses on three areas in which the interplay between legal and factual is especially advanced: socio-economic rights, and namely the right to health; the right to environment, and the rights of (forced) migrants. Seminars and workshops are not meant to address exhaustively the topics, rather to highlight potential new opportunities for law-making, adjudication and activism.

The programme (45 hours – 6 ECTS credits) includes seminars, student-led workshops, film sessions, student presentations, and a general debate/round table.

Students are invited to elaborate on some case studies, introduced in three parallel workshops, using the methodology of “localising” challenges and opportunities, and innovatively articulating the tensions between norms and facts. The last day is devoted to a general debate/round table animated by the students (also a ground for assessing individual performances). Finally, the schedule includes two film viewing sessions and cultural and naturalistic excursions.

Venue: Human Rights Centre, via Martiri della Libertà 2, Padova, and SPGI Department, via del Santo 77, Padova

Timetable (in progress)

Sunday 8
5 – 6:30 PM
Welcome and course presentation.
Introduction of participants and faculty.
Planning of student activities

Monday 9
Seminar 1: Foundations of normativity in human rights discourse.
Discussion chaired by Odysseas Christou, University of Nicosia

Seminar 2: Economic, social and cultural rights in the global crisis: Global human rights discourse vs localisation of human rights
WOUTER VANDENHOLE, University of Antwerp
Discussion chaired by Paolo De Stefani, University of Padova

Tuesday 10
Seminar 3: Economic, social and cultural rights in the global crisis: the right to health.
ROBERTO DE VOGLI, University of Padova
Discussion chaired by Odysseas Christou

Student-led workshops: parallel introductions followed by group work:
- Mixed flows of migrants in Italy (Paola Degani, University of Padova, and P. De Stefani)
- Indigenous peoples and environmental struggles (M. Crook, University of London)
- Economic and social rights and human rights national institutions (Meskerem Geset Techane, University of Padova)

Visit to Giotto’s frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel, Padova, or to the Botanical Gardens

Wednesday 11
Seminar 4: Human rights and environmental challenges
DAMIEN SHORT, School of Advanced Studies, University of London
Discussion chaired by Odysseas Christou

Venue: Euganean Hills, Castigliola Mansor (excursion by bus)
Seminar 5: Contextualising environmental rights: case studies
DAMIEN SHORT and MARTIN CROOK, University of London
Discussion chaired by Lisa Heschl

Film session

Thursday 12
Seminar 6: Global mobility and human rights. The humanitarian challenges.
MARIA DANIELLA MAROUDA, Panteion University, Athens
Discussion chaired by Paola Degani

Seminar 7:
Global mobility and human rights. Refugee flows as a global and local issue
LISA HESCHL, University of Graz
Discussion chaired by Shun Kaku, Waseda University, Tokyo

Film session

Friday 13
Seminar 8: The International Rule of Law: An Alternative to State Consent?
SHUN KAKU, Waseda University, Tokyo
Discussion chaired by Sara Pennicino

Student-led workshops

Saturday 14
Student-led presentations and debate
Diploma awarding

Prospective students

They include: PhD candidates; master’s students and graduates, junior professionals and post-doc fellows. In the selection of participants, efforts are made to guarantee a diversity in gender, geo-cultural background, discipline of study and age. Maximum number of participants: 30.

Academic quality and credits

The Summer School is organised by the University of Padova, the Department of Political Science, Law and International Studies, and the “Antonio Papisca” Human Rights Centre. Lectures and workshops are held by scholars from the universities of Waseda, Tokyo; Panteion, Athens; Graz; London, School of Advanced Studies; Nicosia, and Padova.

The programme features 45 hours of formal and non-formal learning, includes an assessment, and corresponds to 6 ECTS credits. A certificate can be produced at request.


Admitted applicants shall finalise their enrolment by paying a registration fee of 100.00 euro.


Application form is available at the link below.

Admitted applicants will be ranked according to their academic merit. The first 30 admitted applicants will be contacted starting from May 28 and required to finalise their enrolment by paying a registration fee of 100.00 euro. The deadline for finalising the enrolment procedure is June 10, 2018. Please consider this timing in case you have to apply for a Visa. The 100.00 euro registration fees cover civil liability insurance, administrative costs, partial scholarships.

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