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Food for Thought: an Open Academic Discussion series

The world of academia can sometimes appear something of a mystery, with esoteric debates about niche subjects. Human rights, however, is a topic that concerns us all in our day to day lives.

The protections that international and national rights mechanisms have put in place facilitate our ability to speak freely, interact with others within our family and community, provide a framework for fair treatment in employment, within the justice system and in education and protect our freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Increasingly scholars and civil society leaders are recalling us to the roots of our modern human rights system, in particular our duties to others and to the communities in which we live. In this discussion series we provide a window into academic discussions relating to human rights. It is this type of academic discussion that informs research which in turn informs and influences policy and law reform.

We hope you enjoy this window into academia and pick up points for further discussion with your friends, family and local community.

The PILARs team


Hello, my name is Jessica Giles. I am the Director of the Project on Interdisciplinary Law and Religion Studies. I work as a law lecturer in the Open Universities’ Law School and research in the field of human rights.

This series of discussions on human rights brings together academics from different subject areas across the globe in order to discuss various approaches to human rights.

We aim to take a multivalent approach to building consensus to inform law creation and adjudication. This means we are accepting of different points of view and different systems of reasoning, whether they are faith-based or based on a non-faith-based philosophical framework. By discussing our different perspectives and listening to the ideas of others, we seek to identify where we can find common ground and where we might have real differences that need to be explored further.

We hope that enjoy listening to our discussions and that they provide you with some food for thought. You might like to get together with a group of friends or with family, or you might like to start a local community discussion group where you can talk about issues that are of interest to you. As long as you are happy to agree to disagree and accept that others may well have different ideas, but that open discussion is important to work towards a consensus that enables us all to live peacefully together, then you will have a safe space for discussion. If you are meeting face to face you may well also be able to enjoy some tea and cake along the way.

Thank you so much for joining us virtually in our human rights discourse.

Discussion 1