Universities as Sites of Protection:

Universities have the potential to play a multifaceted role in relation to the protection of human rights. They can foster and inhibit freedom of expression; provide ‘safe spaces’ and be sites of violence; facilitate the inclusion and exclusion of marginalised groups; and more broadly reflect, enhance and ameliorate societal tensions. This complexity is exacerbated at a time when universities globally are experiencing pressures ranging from privatisation to diversification (public / private, formal / informal), enhanced government scrutiny and budget cuts, and demands from students for affordable education. In this complex context our research seeks to reunite universities with their third mission – after teaching and research – to address social, economic and cultural challenges in society, through the lens of a particular concept: protection. Protection is here understood as the practices, mechanisms or processes designed to prevent, reduce or redress the risk of physical harm to individuals and groups. This research is conducted in collaboration with UWC, the University of York in the UK, Makerere University in Uganda and University West in Sweden.