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Courses offered by the Center for Human Rights and International Justice are listed under the subject code HUMRTS on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

The Center equips a new generation of leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect and promote human rights and dignity for all. Reflecting a deep commitment to international justice and the rule of law, the Center collaborates with partners across Stanford University and beyond on innovative programs that foster critical inquiry in the classroom and in the world.  Working within the School of Humanities and Sciences, the Center supports academic and professional development opportunities for undergraduates and graduate students interested in pursuing work in human rights or international justice. The Center offers career and academic advising, research opportunities, campus events, and student fellowship funding.

The Center also invites student participation in a diverse portfolio of well-established international programs. These include innovative human rights-related digital archival resource development efforts, justice-sector capacity-building programs, community-engaged learning initiatives, and international criminal trial monitoring opportunities. The Center is part of the Stanford Global Studies Division, in the School of Humanities and Sciences

The interdisciplinary minor in Human Rights ensures students receive mentorship from experienced human rights scholars and practitioners, while lending academic rigor to the scholastic experience of the undergraduates who choose this path. The minor provides structure to diverse academic offerings on human rights-related topics, encouraging students from across the University to understand how human rights are interconnected across seemingly disparate disciplines. 

The Human Rights minor is open to students in any major.

To declare the Human Rights minor, students must:

  1. Register your interest in the minor by completing this form. This ensures that you receive all relevant communications. 
  2. Download and complete the minor in Human Rights course planning worksheet.
  3. Email the completed form to Senior Program Manager Jessie Brunner ( and schedule a time to review your preliminary course plan, preferably during office hours.
  4. Once the plan is approved, students can declare the minor in Axess.


  1. Completion of a minimum of 25 units of Human Rights-related course work. Students may not double-count courses for completing major and minor requirements.
  2. Gateway: HUMRTS 101 Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Human Rights Theory and Practice (4 units)
  3. At least one course across each of three streams:
    1.  Foundations
    2. Contemporary issues
    3. Practice
  4. Capstone: HUMRTS 199 Capstone Project: Human Rights Minor (1-5 units)
    1. Under the supervision of an approved faculty member, students propose and complete a 3-5 unit capstone project. This  should either include:
      1. a 25-page research paper on a human rights topic approved by the supervising faculty; or
      2. an alternative culminating work requiring equivalent effort such as an original short film produced by the student, an annotated digital human rights database, a curated exhibit, or a software application designed to address human rights challenges, approved in advance by the supervising faculty. 
    2. Capstone should be completed no later than week 4 of the quarter in which the student applies to graduate. 
  5. At least 10 of the 25 units must be completed on Stanford’s campus (see the "COVID-19 Policies" tab for more information on this).
  6. All courses to be counted toward the minor must be taken for a letter grade, except where letter grades are not offered, as required by University policy.
  7. All students must maintain a GPA of no less than 3.0 in the classes counting toward the minor.

COVID-19 Policies

On July 30, the Academic Senate adopted grading policies effective for all undergraduate and graduate programs, excepting the professional Graduate School of Business, School of Law, and the School of Medicine M.D. Program. For a complete list of those and other academic policies relating to the pandemic, see the "COVID-19 and Academic Continuity" section of this bulletin.

The Senate decided that all undergraduate and graduate courses offered for a letter grade must also offer students the option of taking the course for a “credit” or “no credit” grade and recommended that deans, departments, and programs consider adopting local policies to count courses taken for a “credit” or “satisfactory” grade toward the fulfillment of degree-program requirements and/or alter program requirements as appropriate.

Undergraduate Degree Requirements


The Center for Human Rights counts all courses taken in academic year 2020-21 with a grade of 'CR' (credit) or 'S' (satisfactory) towards satisfaction of undergraduate degree requirements that otherwise require a letter grade.

Other Undergraduate Policies

With regard to the policy that at least 10 of 25 units for the Minor must be taken on Stanford campus, Stanford courses taken virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic count toward the 10 unit minimum. 

Director: David Cohen

Associate Director: Penelope Van Tuyl

Faculty Advisory Board: JP Daughton (History), Larry Diamond (Political Science), Dan Edelstein (Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages), James Fearon (Political Science), Frank Fukuyama (Political Science), Katherine Jolluck (History), Tanya Luhrmann (Anthropology), Anne Firth Murray (Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), Norman Naimark (History), Josh Ober (Classics and Philosophy), David Palumbo-Liu (English and Comparative Literature), Richard Roberts (History), Beth Van Schaack (Law), Jeremy Weinstein (Political Science), Paul Wise (Medicine), Christine Min Wotipka (Education). 


HUMRTS 6W. Community-Engaged Learning Workshop on Human Trafficking - Part I. 3 Units.

Considers purpose, practice, and ethics of service learning. Provides training for students' work in community. Examines current scope of human trafficking in Bay Area, pressing concerns, capacity and obstacles to effectively address them. Students work with community partners dedicated to confronting human trafficking and problems it entails on a daily basis. Must currently be enrolled in or have previously taken HISTORY 5C/105C (FEMGEN 5C/105C, HumBio 178H, IR 105C, CSRE 5C/105C). (Cardinal Course certified by the Haas Center).

HUMRTS 7W. Community-Engaged Learning Workshop on Human Trafficking - Part II. 3 Units.

Prerequisite: HISTORY6W (FEMGEN 6W). Continuation of HISTORY 6W (FEMGEN 6W). Students will continue working on their projects with their community partners. Several class meetings and small group consultations throughout the quarter. (Cardinal Course certified by the Haas Center).

HUMRTS 101. Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Human Rights Theory and Practice. 4 Units.

In this survey human rights course, students will learn about the principal historical and philosophical bases for the modern concept of human rights, as well as the international legal frameworks meant to protect and promote these rights. Class sessions will include a mix of seminar discussions and guest lectures by distinguished Stanford faculty from departments across the university as well as practitioners from a variety of professional fields. The course seeks to illuminate for how the distinct methodologies, assumptions, and vocabulary of particular disciplinary communities affect the way scholars and practitioners trained in these fields approach, understand, and employ human rights concepts. This course fulfills the gateway course requirement for the minor in Human Rights.nnnPlease note that for the Winter quarter (AY 2020-21) due to COVID, the course will be taught entirely remotely. There is one section of the course, meeting synchronously over Zoom on Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:30-6:00pm Pacific Time. However, classes will be recorded and there will be an asynchronous assignment options for students who are living in distant time zones, have connectivity challenges, or otherwise have to miss live class sessions.

HUMRTS 103. Transitional Justice, Human Rights, and International Criminal Tribunals. 3-5 Units.

(Formerly IPS 280) Historical backdrop of the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals. The creation and operation of the Yugoslav and Rwanda Tribunals (ICTY and ICTR). The development of hybrid tribunals in East Timor, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia, including evaluation of their success in addressing perceived shortcomings of the ICTY and ICTR. Examination of the role of the International Criminal Court and the extent to which it will succeed in supplanting all other ad hoc international justice mechanisms and fulfill its goals. Analysis focuses on the politics of creating such courts, their interaction with the states in which the conflicts took place, the process of establishing prosecutorial priorities, the body of law they have produced, and their effectiveness in addressing the needs of victims in post-conflict societies.

HUMRTS 106. Human Rights in Comparative and Historical Perspective. 3-5 Units.

This course examines core human rights issues and concepts from a comparative and historical perspective. In the beginning part of the course we will focus on current debates about the universality of human rights norms, considering the foundation of the international human rights regime and claims that it is a product of western colonialism, imperialism, or hegemony. We will then discuss a series of issues where the debates about universality are particularly acute: gender inequality and discrimination, sexual violence, child marriage and forced marriage more generally, and other related topics. We will also consider the way in which issues of gender-based violence arise in the context of internal and international conflicts.
Same as: CLASSICS 116, ETHICSOC 106

HUMRTS 108. Advanced Spanish Service-Learning: Migration, Asylum, and Human Rights at the Border. 1-3 Unit.

This community engaged learning workshop is open only to students who are concurrently enrolled in SPANLANG 108SL. Through the HUMRTS 108 units, students will have the opportunity to apply their advanced Spanish language skills and knowledge from the class as remote volunteers with immigrant rights advocacy organizations.nnStudents will be trained to work remotely to staff a hotline through with they can help monitor detention conditions, report abuse, and request support on behalf of detainees and their loved ones. They will also have a commitment to work on more projects such as providing interpretations or translations for attorneys or mental/health professionals working remotely with detainees or their families, and/or conducting basic internet research regarding/compilation of news articles or government reports to substantiate asylum claims or fear of persecution. This course requires permission from the instructor to enroll. Please email instructor Vivian Brates to get a link to the appropriate web form. Please note that this course must be taken for a minimum of 3 units and a letter grade to be eligible for Ways credit. In AY 2020-21, a letter grade or `CR¿ grade satisfies the Ways requirement.

HUMRTS 109. Slavery, human trafficking, and the moral order: ancient and modern. 3 Units.

Slavery and trafficking in persons in the Greco-Roman world were legal and ubiquitous; today slavery is illegal in most states and regarded as a grave violation of human rights and as a crime against humanity under international law. In recent trends, human trafficking has been re-conceptualized as a form of "modern day slavery. " Despite more than a century since the success of the abolition movement, slavery and trafficking continue in the 21st century on a global scale. The only book for the course is: Peter Garnsey, Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine, Cambridge University Press.
Same as: CLASSICS 118, CLASSICS 218

HUMRTS 110. Global Women's Issues in Human Rights and Health. 4 Units.

This course provides an overview of international women's human rights issues presented in the context of a woman's life, beginning in infancy and childhood and moving through adolescence, reproductive years, and aging. The approach to women's human rights is broad, taking into account economic and social factors and particularly the importance of women's capacities to manage their lives in the face of societal pressures and obstacles. Attention will be given to critical issues, such as: discrimination against women; poverty; unequal access to the cash economy, education, food, and health care; and violence. Issues such as maternal mortality, sexually transmitted diseases, violence in the home and in conflict and refugee situations, unequal access to economic opportunity, and sex trafficking will be discussed, with particular emphasis on promising interventions relating to the issues.

HUMRTS 112. Human Trafficking: Historical, Legal, and Medical Perspectives. 5 Units.

(Same as HISTORY 5C. History majors and others taking 5 units, enroll in 105C.) Interdisciplinary approach to understanding the extent and complexity of the global phenomenon of human trafficking, especially for forced prostitution, labor exploitation, and organ trade, focusing on human rights violations and remedies. Provides a historical context for the development and spread of human trafficking. Analyzes the current international and domestic legal and policy frameworks to combat trafficking and evaluates their practical implementation. Examines the medical, psychological, and public health issues involved. Uses problem-based learning. Required weekly 50-min. discussion section, time TBD. Students interested in service learning should consult with the instructor and will enroll in an additional course.
Same as: CSRE 105C, FEMGEN 105C, HISTORY 105C, INTNLREL 105C

HUMRTS 114. Human Rights Practice and Challenges in Southeast Asia: Issues, fieldwork, career paths. 3-5 Units.

This course aims to address student interest in the practice of human rights both from the individual perspective, particularly regarding a variety of professional career paths, as well as from institutional perspectives. Courses that focus on particular human rights issues or on the broad international legal framework of human rights are core components of a human rights curriculum. This course, on the other hand, is regionally focused, practice-oriented, and addresses the ways in which human rights initiatives and projects are designed, developed, funded, implemented, and evaluated by the various actors and institutions that make up the complex landscape of human rights work. We will have several guest speakers who have successfully followed different career paths in the UN, NGOs, academia, philanthropy, and development. They also reflect engagement in a number of key areas of human rights practice: gender based violence and gender discrimination; statelessness; freedom of religion and expression in an electronic age; justice sector reform and the rule of law; business and human rights; prosecution and accountability for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.nnnThe requirements for an effective practice-oriented course dictate that it be of limited geographical scope while at the same time having a regional, and to a lesser extent, a cross-regional perspective. Accordingly, the focus of this course will be on the 10 Southeast Asian nations that make up ASEAN as a region with its own legal and institutional human rights framework. We will also consider some of the ways in which ASEAN human rights issues are connected to its neighbors and, in this case, particularly to South Asia (Rohingya) and China (human trafficking and environmental issues). nnnThe course will be structured around the following 5 main segments:nn(1) Issues: Overview of human rights challenges in ASEAN: What are the most pressing issues (and to whom); how is the human rights agenda defined at the national and regional levels; how are priorities established; what are the obstacles to effective implementation of the agenda? nn(2) Players: The roles of national and regional institutions; national NGOs and human rights activists; national human rights commissions; governmental and regional bodies; international human rights organizations; the UN and its various engaged institutions (UNDP, UNODC, UNHCHR, UNHCR, Special Mandates, Human Rights Committee, etc.); national development agencies and embassies.nn(3) Initiatives and Projects: How are broad national and ASEAN human initiatives developed? How do they come to be incorporated into specific projects (research, training and capacity building, awareness raising and education, accountability, etc.)? How are such projects developed and by whom? How are they awarded, funded and implemented? What is the role of human rights philanthropy? How are such initiatives and projects evaluated? What determines the success or failure of such projects and according to whom? nn(4) Seeking accountability for human rights abuses: case studies on trafficking; gender based violence and discrimination; ethnic, religious, or political conflict and violence. nn(5) Human rights careers at the national, regional, and international levels.

HUMRTS 115. Business, Social Responsibility and Human Rights. 3 Units.

Large corporations now routinely spend millions of dollars to protect human rights and the environment. Shell Nigeria builds hospitals and schools in the Niger Delta. Nike employs hundreds of inspectors to improve conditions for the factory workers who produce its shoes across Asia and Latin America. Social media companies have faced scandals over user privacy, hate speech, and political manipulation. Other examples abound, across industries and around the globe. nnn"Don't be evil" (Google's one-time slogan) may be one motivation for these companies, but something more mundane is also at work: many companies believe they will do well, financially, if they do good, ethically. This course considers: nn-What does it mean for a company to "do good?" Should it care? nn-When does it serve a company¿s interest to take costly action to address human rights, labor, and environmental concerns? nn-What tactics have activists used to shift public opinion, media frames, and the law, and thereby change companies' incentives? nnnWe will learn through lectures, discussion, and occasional small group exercises. Several guest speakers with experience in business, advocacy, or in between will provide additional insights.

HUMRTS 116. International Criminal Law and Its Enforcement. 3 Units.

(LAW 5003) This course will introduce students to the law, institutions, and actors that constitute the system of international justice and to the political environment in which this system is situated. Readings will map the once and future international criminal law institutions, offer an elemental analysis of international crimes and forms of responsibility as they have evolved in international law, and focus on the challenges of pursuing criminal prosecutions for international crimes. Jurisprudence from the various international and domestic tribunals will be scrutinized with an emphasis on understanding the prosecution's burden, available defenses, and sources of proof. The course will also engage new and perennial debates about the suitability of using criminal justice mechanisms to respond to mass atrocity situations and consider alternatives from the domain of transitional justice. In addition to the substance of international criminal law, this course will also serve as an introduction to international legal reasoning, law-making, and institutional design.
Same as: INTLPOL 354

HUMRTS 117. International Human rights. 3 Units.

(LAW 5010) An introduction to the theory and practice of human rights. We will examine major sources of international human rights law---including treaties, customary international law, and national law---as well as the institutions in which human rights are contested, adjudicated, and enforced. Key sites of human rights activity include multilateral organizations, like the United Nations Security Council and Human Rights Council; international, regional, and national courts and tribunals; and quasi-judicial treaty bodies, like the U.N. Committee Against Torture. This degree of jurisdictional redundancy offers an opportunity to explore questions of institutional design and interaction as well as processes of normative diffusion. The course will also consider the role of non-state actors---including non-governmental organizations, corporations, terrorist organizations, and ordinary individuals---in promoting and violating human rights. In addition to this survey of the human rights ecosystem, the course will engage some of the fundamental theoretical debates underlying the international human rights project with a focus on perennial questions of legitimacy, justiciability, compliance, and efficacy. Finally, we will explore a range of threats and challenges to the promotion of human rights---both perennial and novel---including economic under-development, terrorism, national security over-reach, patriarchy, and racism. We will read case law originating from all over the world, including the United States. Special Instructions: Students have the option to write a long research paper in lieu of the final exam with consent of instructor. Elements used in grading: Class participation; exam or final long research paper. (Formerly Law 330).
Same as: INTLPOL 355

HUMRTS 194A. Environmental Justice Colloquium. 1 Unit.

This colloquium brings the voices and vision of leading Environmental Justice (EJ) advocates to the Stanford community, in order to educate, inspire, and transform our understanding of environmental science. Environmental Justice advances a positive vision for policies and actions that fight environmental racism. EJ approaches involve centering the voices and leadership of marginalized communities in 1) ensuring equitable access to environmental benefits, and 2) preventing or mitigating the disproportionate impacts of environmental harms for all communities, regardless of gender, class, race, ethnicity, or other social positions. This colloquium highlights the work of leading EJ thinkers and practitioners, speaking from frontline organizations on a wide range of topics. These topics include acting on toxic exposures and health disparities for community resilience, climate justice and youth action, Indigenous land and water rights, green cities and Afrofuturism, food justice and intersecting social movements, queer ecologies, and more. The colloquium will host a weekly speaker, and final symposium at the end of the quarter. nnThe first meeting for this course will take place during WEEK 3.
Same as: EARTHSYS 194A, URBANST 155A

HUMRTS 196. Environmental Justice and Human Rights Lab. 1 Unit.

The Environmental Justice and Human Rights Lab is an intellectual hub and supportive learning community for students engaging in environmental justice and human rights work of any kind. Environmental justice (EJ) advances a positive vision for policies and actions that fight environmental racism, and human rights (HR) center on the notion that all people, by virtue of their existence and regardless of any given status or classification, are equally entitled to fundamental rights and protections. Our semi-structured weekly sessions will foster an open learning environment for students and peer-to-peer learning connections. Sessions will include giving and receiving feedback on capstone or community-based projects, independent research, or other relevant coursework or extracurricular activity. We also welcome students who are new to these topics and would like to learn more. We are open to students of all backgrounds and disciplines at any stage of their research or project work. Following EJ and HR principles, we seek to center local, contextualised knowledge and leadership through ethical research partnerships with community members. To do so, we follow community-based participatory research approaches and decolonizing methodologies. Examples of our work to date include 1) enabling graduate students to effectively bring EJ and HR approaches into dissertation research, 2) supporting campus leaders and directly participating in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, and 3) educating and learning from one another about critical EJ and HR scholarship and anti-racist approaches to our work. Lab interests include addressing inequitable impacts of climate change, advancing decolonial approaches to land and water management, promoting food justice, combatting human trafficking and labor exploitation, promoting fair and just immigration policies, and additional EJ and HR research topics. Note that this lab is intended as an open space for engagement. If you are unable to enroll for credit, but would still like to participate, please email
Same as: EARTHSYS 196A

HUMRTS 197. Human Rights Careers Intensive. 1 Unit.

This weekly seminar aimed at juniors, seniors, and graduate students, to support practical exploration of human rights careers. Students will meet alumni and other human rights professionals working in a variety of sectors, and get job-search ready. Each week, a guest speaker will present their unique story to the group, helping you connect your skills and undergraduate experiences at Stanford to long-term, meaningful human rights work.

HUMRTS 198. Independent Study or Directed Reading in Human Rights. 1-5 Unit.

May be repeated for credit. Students using these units toward the Minor in Human Rights must take for a letter grade. Department consent is required for enrollment. Please contact indicating your plan and demonstrating agreement from the instructor.

HUMRTS 199. Capstone Project: Human Rights Minor. 1-5 Unit.

Students completing a required capstone project for the Minor in Human Rights must enroll in this course for units with their capstone adviser selected as the instructor. Students must agree with their capstone advisor how many units (3-5) their proposed capstone project is worth, and enroll accordingly. This course is open only to Human Rights Minors. Department consent is required for enrollment. Please contact indicating your plan and demonstrating agreement from the your advisor.