Students should contact the departmental representative with course-related questions.

Human Rights

Institute for the Study of Human Rights
91 Claremont Ave, 7th Floor

The Summer Sessions courses in human rights are offered in conjunction with the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) at Columbia University. Established in 1978, the ISHR at Columbia University is committed to providing excellent human rights education to Columbia students, fostering innovative interdisciplinary academic research, and offering its expertise in capacity building to human rights leaders, organizations, and universities around the world. Courses include active engagement with the world of human rights practitioners, and emphasize the connection between the study and practice of human rights.

Courses can be taken independently or as part of a four-course Certification of Professional Achievement in Human Rights.

HRTS S4020D Introduction to Human Rights. 3 points.

This course will provide a wide-ranging survey of conceptual foundations and issues in contemporary human rights. The class will examine the philosophical origins of human rights, contemporary debates, the evolution of human rights, key human rights documents, and the questions of human rights enforcement. This course will examine specific civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and various thematic topics in human rights.

Summer 2017: HRTS S4020D
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
HRTS 4020 001/23774 M W 1:00pm - 4:10pm
402 Hamilton Hall
Joseph Chuman 3 18/23

HRTS S4185Q Human Rights and Global Economic Justice. 3 points.

The world economy is a patchwork of competing and complementary interests among and between governments, corporations, and civil society. These stakeholders at times cooperate and also conflict over issues of global poverty, inequality, and sustainability. What role do human rights play in coordinating the different interests that drive global economic governance? This seminar will introduce students to different structures of global governance for development, trade, labor, finance, the environment, migration, and intellectual property and investigate their relationship with human rights. Students will learn about public, private, and mixed forms of governance, analyze the ethical and strategic perspectives of the various stakeholders and relate them to existing human rights norms. The course will examine the work of multilateral organizations such as the United Nations and the International Financial Institutions, as well as international corporate and non-governmental initiatives.

Summer 2017: HRTS S4185Q
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
HRTS 4185 001/14862 T Th 5:30pm - 8:40pm
302 Hamilton Hall
Rainer Braun 3 20/23

HRTS S4190Q Human Rights and Visual Culture. 3 points.

This course examines the relationship between visual culture and human rights. It considers a wide range of visual media (photography, painting, sculpture), as well as aspects of visuality (surveillance, profiling). We will use case studies ranging in time from the early modern period (practices in which the body was marked to measure criminality, for example), to the present day. Within this framework, we will study how aspects of visual culture have been used to advocate for human rights, as well as how images and visual regimes have been used to suppress human rights. An important part of the course will be to consider the role played by reception in shaping a discourse around human rights, visuality, and images. Subjects to be addressed include: the nature of evidence; documentation and witness; censorship; iconoclasm; surveillance; profiling; advocacy images; signs on the body; visibility and invisibility.

Summer 2017: HRTS S4190Q
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
HRTS 4190 001/74810 T Th 1:00pm - 4:10pm
402 Hamilton Hall
Susan Merriam 3 19/23

HRTS S4215D NGOs and the Human Rights Movement: Strategies, Successes and Challenges. 3 points.

The human rights movement is one of the most successful social justice movements of our time, establishing universal principles that govern how states should treat citizens and non-citizens. The movement strengthens, and is strengthened by, a complex web of institutions, laws, and norms that constitute a functioning global system that builds on itself progressively, animated by strong NGOs. The course will address the evolution of the international human rights movement and on the NGOs that drive the movement on the international, regional and domestic levels. Sessions will highlight the experiences of major human rights NGOs and will address topics including strategy development, institutional representation, research methodologies, partnerships, networks, venues of engagement, campaigning, fundraising and, perhaps most importantly, the fraught and complex debates about adaptation to changing global circumstances.

Summer 2017: HRTS S4215D
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
HRTS 4215 001/65899 M W 5:30pm - 8:40pm
402 Hamilton Hall
Louis Bickford 3 14/23

HRTS S4220Q International Human Rights Law. 3 points.

This course introduces the fundamental concepts and problems of international human rights law. What are the origins of modern human rights law? What is the substance of this law, who is obligated by it, and how is it enforced? The course will cover the major international human rights treaties and mechanisms and consider some of today's most significant human rights issues and controversies. While the topics are necessarily law-related, the course will assume no prior exposure to legal studies.

Summer 2017: HRTS S4220Q
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
HRTS 4220 001/23396 M W 5:00pm - 8:10pm
309 Hamilton Hall
Uche Ewelukwa 3 14

HRTS S4270D Social Media and Human Rights: Actors, Advocacy and Analytics. 3 points.

This course examines how changes in information and communications technology have, over the past two decades, fundamentally transformed the practices of civil society actors engaged with human rights issues. New communications tools such as Twitter, blogs, and Facebook have changed the ways that organizations communicate with their followers and seek to influence public debate. The increasing accessibility of analytic tools for researching and visualizing changing patterns of human rights abuse has empowered groups to better understand and respond more forcefully to these issues. Indeed, the use of social media as a communications tool has made it a data source for those monitoring and analyzing patterns of activity, in ways that draw increasingly on the techniques of big data analysis. 

Summer 2017: HRTS S4270D
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
HRTS 4270 001/60896 T Th 5:30pm - 8:30pm
402 International Affairs Bldg
Ted Perlmutter 3 1/22

HRTS S4407Q Women, Gender, and Political Violence. 3 points.

Just Added

This course explores how women's experiences of violence in conflict are guided by traditional patriarchal views of femininity, and furthermore how this violence influences their agencies and their realization of human rights. Through academic texts, documents produced by the U.N. and NGOs globally, academic experts, and documentaries, we will explore a wide range of women's experiences of violence in conflict, including: the relationship between domestic violence in the private/home space and the violence of war in the public space; how the rape of women is used to decipher and forge the borders/boundaries of imagined, emerging nations, as in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda; debates on women terrorists, suicide bombers, and freedom fighters; and sexual violence against women in the U.S. military.

Summer 2017: HRTS S4407Q
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
HRTS 4407 001/11279 M W 1:00pm - 4:10pm
401 Hamilton Hall
Julie Rajan 3 9/23

The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.