Human Rights Studies Minor

Human Rights Studies Minor


Description. The Human Rights Studies minor will introduce students to some of the key conceptual, ethical and methodological approaches to the study and practice of human rights. In particular, it will address key concepts, principles and norms, such as human dignity, non-discrimination, equality, due process, empowerment, human security, human development, and accountability; it will expose students to diverse disciplinary and methodological approaches to the study and practice of human rights from a domestic as well as an international perspective; it will familiarize students with the evolution of international human rights norms both in theory and in practice, the latter through the study of pivotal events in the history of human rights, such as the anti–slavery and anti-slave trade campaign, the Civil Rights Movement, the Campaign Against Apartheid, the transnational movement spawned by the Helsinki Final Act, and, more recently, the campaign to establish the International Criminal Court and the launching of the Millennium Development Goals; it will train students how to use the human rights framework in order to analyze and assess critical developments in key issue areas of global concern; and it will provide students with internship opportunities so as to hone their advocacy skills in addressing the challenges of an increasingly complex and interconnected world. This minor can be paired with several majors, including Gender Studies, Global History, Humanities and Justice, International Criminal Justice, and Political Science.

Learning outcomes. Students will:

  • Acquire a solid understanding of basic theories, concepts, principles and norms in human rights.
  • Become familiar with the contribution of different disciplines to our understanding of key human rights concepts, principles and norms, such as human dignity, equality, empowerment, non-discrimination, universality, human development, non–refoulement, prohibition of torture and universal jurisdiction.
  • Become familiar with the key instruments (treaties, declarations, resolutions) in international human rights law.
  • Use this framework in order to critically discuss developments in key issue areas such as peace and security, economic and social development, human protection and justice.
  • Acquire some basic skills in human rights advocacy (once the internship component is developed).


Rationale. The minor in Human Rights Studies will promote a dynamic and intellectually stimulating approach to the study of human rights (and criminal justice as a whole) from an international, cross-cultural, and comparative perspective. It will provide opportunities for students to apply critical theoretical concepts on and a thorough interdisciplinary understanding of pressing human rights issues, related processes and challenges, as well as enable students to relate pressing legal, ethnic, race-related, religious, sexual, cultural, and ethical matters to a human rights framework. Moreover, courses in this minor can facilitate a more thorough understanding of the interconnections among international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as well as relevant prevention and control strategies pertaining to international and transnational crime.

Credits. 18

Minor coordinator. Professor Charlotte Walker-Said, Department of Africana Studies (212.237.8758,

Prerequisites. POL 101 (or GOV 101) 101 is a prerequisite for POL 320, International Human Rights, which is required in the minor. POL 101 fulfills the Flexible Core: U.S. Experience in its Diversity area of the College’s general education requirements.

Requirements. The minor has one required course and 15 credits of electives clustered under the themes below. All students enrolled in the minor will have to take the required course and at least one course from each thematic area. A maximum of two courses can overlap with a student’s major, other minor or program.

Additional information. Students who enrolled for the first time at the College or selected this minor in September 2016 or thereafter must complete the minor in the form presented here. Students who enrolled prior to that date may choose the form shown here or the earlier version of the minor. A copy of the earlier version can be obtained in the 2015–2016 Undergraduate Bulletin.

PART ONE. REQUIRED COURSES.                                         Subtotal: 3 credits

POL 320 International Human Rights

PART TWO. ELECTIVES.                                                                Subtotal: 15 credits        

Select five, at least one in each theme

Theme I. Theories and Concepts 

Select at least one

HJS 250 Justice in Western Traditions
HJS 310 Comparative Perspectives on Justice
PHI 302 Philosophical Issues of Rights
POL 319 Gender and Law
SOC 251 Sociology of Human Rights

Theme II. Non-Discrimination/Empowerment

Select at least one

ART 224 African American Women in Art
LIT 315 American Literature and the Law
LLS 322 Latino/a Struggles for Civil Rights and Social Justice
POL 313/LAW 313 The Law and Politics of Race Relations
POL 318 The Law and Politics of Sexual Orientation
SOC 333 Gender Issues in International Criminal Justice

Theme III. Human Security/Access to Justice 

Select at least one

AFR 320 Persepctives on Justice in the Africana World
LIT 342 Perspectives on Literature and Human Rights
LLS 220 Human Rights and Law in Latin America
LLS 343 Race and Citizenship in the Americas

Total Credit Hours: 18
Last Updated: 9/28/16