HomeBooks VitaeSociologists Without BordersUNC SociologyHuman Rights CenterSSF Think Tank



Judith Blau is professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her field is Human Rights, which is a normative approach to human societies, collective goods, political institutions, economy, and democracy. Drawing from the Universal Declaration  of Human Rights, international human rights treaties and conventions, Human Rights axiomatically asserts the inalienable and equal rights of all humans. One challenge everywhere is to ensure equal rights to those who are denied them owing to, for example, poverty, citizenship status, or disability. Another challenge is to combat discrimination (racism, sexism, homophobia) that stands in the way of people achieving equality. Another is to ensure diversity of culture and of cultural expressions.

These challenges are met at the international level by INGOs and in quasi-judicial proceedings carried out by The UN Human Rights Council, which reviews States’ progress in meeting their obligations under international Human Rights Treaties. This is all fine and dandy, but it is often far removed from praxis, from the realization of human rights, and from human rights abuses. Judith Blau has found that she can structure learning experiences with the students in her classes to engage them in egalitarian and non-threatening  human rights projects.

Judith Blau is the director of the Human Rights Center of Chapel Hill & Carrboro (HRC) located at 107 Barnes Street, Carrboro. The HRC provides various programs for residents of Carrboro and Chapel Hill, and successfully petitioned the two towns to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She was the founder and past president of the US chapter of Sociologists without Borders (SSF), which is affiliated with Sociologists without Borders International/ Sociólogos sin Fronteras. Blau served on the Science & Human Rights Coalition of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is one of the co-founders of SSF Think-Tank, a state-of-the-art space for democratic, global discussions and debate. Besides writing for an academic audience, she also writes for online publications, such as the Huffington Post and Commondreams. She was president of the Southern Sociological Society 2005-06, and served in 2010 as the chair of the Human Rights Section of the American Sociological Association and acting president of Thematic Group 03 of the International Sociological Association. The American Sociological Association will award her its Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology at its August 2012 meetings.