ILGA » » World: 2012 Human Rights Summer Program


Filter by Show me news ›

World: 2012 Human Rights Summer Program

In 2012, the program will offer seven courses in human rights, which can be taken independently or as part of a four-course certificate program.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

7th May 2012 20:52

Alessia Valenza


Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University

In 2012, the program will offer seven courses in human rights, which can be taken independently or as part of a four-course certificate program.

All courses are 4000 level, and are designed for graduate students, advanced undergraduate students, and professionals. Three credit points are awarded per course. For more information about the program, course descriptions, application procedures, and relevant deadlines, please visit:

Email with any questions about applications or registration.

New and visiting students must apply by May 10th for Session D and June 21st for Session Q.

Session D: May 21-June 29
Introduction to Human Rights
Transitional Justice
Human Rights and Business
International Human Rights Law

Session Q: July 2-August 10
Human Rights of Women
Children’s Rights
Human Rights and the Image


Course descriptions

Please check directory of classes for class schedules and locations.

Session D


Introduction to Human Rights

MW 1:00pm-4:10pm


Provides a wide-ranging survey of conceptual foundations and issues in contemporary human rights. The class will examine the philosophical origins of human rights, their explication in the evolving series of international documents, as well as questions of enforcement through international law and treaty arrangements. Examines contemporary topics that are in the forefront of concern, among them – the status of women, refugees, children, the use of torture and the horrors of genocide. Though the course emphasizes political rights, it also recognizes the evolution of the human rights culture, the growing importance of economic rights and tensions related to globalization and multiculturalism. The broad range of subjects covered in the course is intended to assist students in honing their interests and making future course selections in the human rights field.


Transitional Justice

MW 6:00pm-9:10pm


Dealing with the legacies of past human rights abuse or atrocity – whether committed under authoritarian regimes, in the midst of conflict, or in established democracies – represents certain opportunities and challenges. This course focuses on the field of transitional justice, a set of policy prescriptions that include prosecuting past offenders (in various venues or at various levels, including international, domestic, and hybrid courts); truth commissions (sometimes called "truth and reconciliation commissions"); the thorny question of amnesty; memory work, such as creating museums, sites of memory, and new-paradigm war memorials; and reparation. Throughout the course, we will also examine reconciliation, gender, and the idea of guarantees of non-repetition (i.e. "never again"). Cases examined will include Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Ghana, Iraq, Kenya, Morocco, Peru, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Timor-Leste.


Human Rights and Business

TR 4:00pm-7:10pm


Since the 1990s, there has been increased focus and debate on the role of business with respect to human rights. Business has contributed to millions of people around the world being lifted out of poverty; but at the same time companies in all industries have contributed to human rights abuses, such as exploitative working conditions in factories, social unrest and environmental destruction around oil and mining projects, and censorship and surveillance by internet service providers. This course is an in-depth exploration of the relationship between business and human rights: from a historical perspective, as we discuss the evolution of the debate about corporate social responsibility and business’s responsibilities with respect to human rights, then from an applied perspective as we focus on particular cases, industries, and issues. By the end of the course, students should have a solid grounding in the background and current issues related to business and human rights; understand the positions of different stakeholder groups; and be able to critically evaluate the responsibilities and actions of key actors in situations where corporate-related human rights abuses have occurred, including what prevention and/or mitigation steps could be effective.


International Human Rights Law

TR 12:00pm-3:10pm


This course introduces the fundamental concepts and problems of public international law. What are the origins of international law? Is international law really law? Who is governed by it? How are treaties interpreted? What is the relationship between international law and domestic law? We examine the interplay between law and international politics, in particular with reference to international human rights, humanitarian law, the use of force, and international criminal prosecutions. No prior knowledge of international law is required. While the topics are necessarily law-related, the course will assume no prior exposure to legal studies. This course is required and offered in the fall and spring terms.


Session Q


Human Rights and the Image

MW 12:50pm-4:00pm


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.


Human Rights of Women

TR 4:10pm-7:20pm


The course will examine the integration of women’s human rights into the UN international human rights system through study of several relevant UN bodies, treaties and declarations, human rights reports, and NGO activities. The course will consider successes, contestations and defenses of applications of human rights to women’s issues. It will examine dialogues among activists, scholars and UN experts on how women’s human rights are implemented. Readings will be from international affairs, anthropology, sociology, law, news articles and NGO websites.


Children’s Rights: Selected Issues

TR 12:50pm-4:00pm


This course will focus on both the theories surrounding, and practices of, children’s rights. It will start from the foundational question of whether children should be treated as rights-holders and whether this approach is more effective than alternatives for promoting children’s well-being. Consideration will be given to the major conceptual and developmental issues embedded within the framework of rights in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The course will cover issues in both the domestic and international arenas, including but not limited to: children’s rights in the criminal justice; children’s rights to housing and health care; inequities in education systems; child labor; children and armed conflict; street children; the rights of migrant, refugee, homeless, and minority children; and the commodification of children. Case studies will be used to ensure that students have a solid understanding of current conditions. The course will also explore the US ratification of the CRC and offer critical perspectives on the advocacy and education-based work of international children’s rights organizations.