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Curriculum and Courses

Students in the Human Rights Program may follow either of two academic tracks: a 15-credit Minor in human rights, or 24-credit Certificate. A key element of both tracks is the Human Rights Internship, HR 250, which gives students direct experience working with the researchers, advocates, lawyers and analysts who make up the human rights movement.

An interdisciplinary program, the Human Rights Program offers courses in political science, anthropology, sociology and history, among other fields of study.

Minor in Human Rights

The 15-credit Minor in Human Rights consists of two core human rights courses—a 3-credit introductory course and a 3-credit internship—plus three 3-credit cognate courses on specific human rights topics. (One of the three cognate courses may be in the student’s major field of study; the others must be in different disciplines.) To be accepted into the Minor program, a student must have completed HR 200 (Introduction to Human Rights) with a grade of B (3.0) or better and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Core Human Rights courses required for the Minor:

  • HR 200: Introduction to Human Rights (offered in Fall and Spring semesters; open to all students)
    What are human rights, and what is the meaning and impact of their current prominence? How are human rights formulated and how can they be enforced? This course will address these questions by exploring human rights in theory and in practice. It will examine the historical and philosophical origins of contemporary human rights standards, the uses and limitations of the international human rights treaty system, and the relationship between international human rights obligations and domestic human rights enforcement.
  • HR 250: Human Rights Internship (offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters; limited to students pursuing the Minor or Certificate)
    An internship with a nongovernmental organization or government agency working on human rights issues is an opportunity to assist victims of human rights abuses, carry out human rights research, and see first-hand how human rights concerns influence political, economic, and/or social policy. Internships are available with organizations working on a wide variety of human rights topics, including immigrants’ rights, women’s rights, and the right to free expression.

Certificate in Human Rights

The 24-credit Certificate in Human Rights consists of four core human rights courses—a 3-credit introductory course, a 3-credit internship, a 3-credit internship seminar and a 3-credit capstone seminar—plus four cognate courses. (Two of the four cognate courses may be in the student’s major field of study; the others must be in different disciplines.) To be accepted into the Certificate program, a student must have completed HR 200 (Introduction to Human Rights) with a grade of B (3.0) or better and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Core Human Rights courses required for the Certificate:

  • HR 200: Introduction to Human Rights (offered in Fall and Spring semesters; open to all students)
    What are human rights, and what is the meaning and impact of their current prominence? How are human rights formulated and how can they be enforced? This course will address these questions by exploring human rights in theory and in practice. It will examine the historical and philosophical origins of contemporary human rights standards, the uses and limitations of the international human rights treaty system, and the relationship between international human rights obligations and domestic human rights enforcement.
  • HR 250: Human Rights Internship (offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters; limited to students pursuing the Minor or Certificate)
    An internship with a nongovernmental organization or government agency working on human rights issues is an opportunity to assist victims of human rights abuses, carry out human rights research, and see first-hand how human rights concerns influence political, economic, and/or social policy. Internships are available with organizations working on a wide variety of human rights topics, including immigrants’ rights, women’s rights, and the right to free expression.
  • HR 260: Internship Seminar (offered in Fall semester; explores impact of fieldwork and how NGOs operate; limited to Certificate students)
    Designed for students who have completed a human rights internship, this seminar is typically limited to students who are pursuing a Certificate in Human Rights. Students examine how human rights organizations approach the practice of human rights research and advocacy. It is an in-depth study of the work of NGOs, including through field visits. The seminar is required of all students pursuing the Certificate in Human Rights, and may occasionally be open to students pursuing the Minor, with permission of the instructor.
  • HR 350: Capstone Seminar (offered in Spring semester; senior thesis seminar; limited to Certificate students)
    This seminar, limited to students who are pursuing a Certificate in Human Rights, examines how human rights organizations approach the practice of human rights research and advocacy.  Designed for students who have completed a human rights internship, or who are currently undertaking an internship, the course explores the role of human rights organizations —- both governmental and non-governmental —- in promoting human rights.  Students will read current scholarship, both critical and approving, analyze the history, goals, politics and methods of human rights organizations, and discuss their own experiences as interns.  They will consider the constraints under which human rights organizations operate, the impact of political and financial pressures, and the relationship between human rights theory and human rights practice.