Graduate Certificate in Human Rights

Since the end of the Cold War, human rights have risen to prominence in both national constitutional politics and international law and governance, as well as had a significant impact upon wider areas such as health, education, the environment and economic development. Few legal/political concepts presently have such a global reach, and few concepts compel political actors to confront the tension between respecting social and cultural diversity while simultaneously identifying universal aspects of the human condition deserving of legal and other protections.

The Graduate Certificate in Human Rights draws upon the academic strengths of the University of Connecticut's School of Law and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to introduce students to the key modern debates in this interdisciplinary field of study. The program provides a historical, literary and philosophical perspective for thinking broadly about modern human rights; an understanding of social science research on rights, conflict and governance; as well as expertise in the international conventions, treaties and case law from international courts (such as the European Court of Human Rights, the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia). The courses encourage students to think critically about the strengths and limitations of the human rights framework and how they might develop an active and original research agenda in this growing field of interdisciplinary inquiry.


Students must apply for the certificate no later than the 10th day (the add/drop deadline) of the semester they are graduating to ensure a timely conferral of the certificate. Late applications will have the certificate conferred at a later date, and potentially face additional administrative fees.

CLAS Grad Certificiate Application Instructions

Law School Grad Certificiate Application Instructions

Human Rights Certificate Plan of Study Form (non-Law students)

Human Rights Certificate Plan of Study Form (Law students)

Request For Course Substitution



Spring 2014 Human Rights Course Offerings

The following is a list of the CLAS and Law School human rights classes that will be offered in Spring 2014.


Grad Courses:


ANTH 5305-22: Health and Human Rights


Th 9:30AM-12:15PM

How are health and human rights linked? What are the legal, philosophical, and ethical foundations of health-related human rights claims? Is there a universal human right to health, or to health care, and if so, what does it entail? How does the presumed universality of human rights align—or conflict—with anthropology’s historical commitment to cultural relativism? How can anthropology contribute to contemporary efforts to document, analyze, and respond to health-related human rights abuses, violations, and inequalities, at home and abroad? In this seminar, we will draw upon anthropology and related fields of scholarship and practice (e.g., sociology, political science, philosophy, law, public health, clinical biomedicine, bioethics, and critical theory) to engage these questions.


ECON 5218: Economic Rights


MW 4:40-5:55PM

Economic rights include the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to work, and the right to basic income guarantees for those unable to work. These rights are grounded in international law—particularly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. This class will explore the conceptual bases, measurement, and policy applications of economic rights.


ECON 6473: Economic Development: Microeconomic Issues

NOTE: Permission from instructor required


This course provides an overview of the current literature on the microeconomics of development in poor countries. Topics covered include the role of human capital (health, education), the internal structure of households (neoclassical, bargaining), the functioning of factor markets (land, credit and insurance), and the role of institutions in mediating change. On the methodological side, we will examine econometric techniques that researchers have used to identify causal relationships (panel data, instrumental variables, randomized experiments, regression discontinuity design).


HRTS 5095: Teaching Human Rights

NOTE: This is only a 1-Credit course


M 1:25-2:15PM

This course addresses the concerns unique to teaching human rights in higher education. These concerns include teaching interdisciplinary topics, to an interdisciplinary body of students, and assessing students’ work completed in a style other than that of the instructor’s discipline. In addition, human rights education often broaches sensitive topics—for example, teaching about torture and violence against women—that requires special attention paid to how this information is presented in the classroom. Teaching human rights clearly is a distinctive enterprise with its own concerns. Consequently, to teach human rights effectively, special pedagogical attention is necessary. The goal of this course is to focus on the challenges of teaching human rights and discuss pedagogical mechanisms for meeting such challenges. Students enrolled in this course will explore interdisciplinary and human rights pedagogy, as well as how to make effective use of digital media to teach human rights.


POLS 5010: Gender Inequalities, Gender Policies, and Gender Rights


Tu 6:30-9:00PM

In addition to the range and causes of gender inequalities, the course examines government policies, social activism and international efforts to improve women’s lives. Also drawing attention to the contributions and limitations of the contemporary human rights discourse, it explores factors that help or hinder the advancement of women’s rights. 


SOCI 5515: Sociology of Immigration


M 12:20-3:20PM

Do you want to learn about immigration as a terrain of struggle shaped by forces of forces of inclusion and exclusion?  We will examine the lives of a variety of migrants—economic migrants and political exiles, permanent and temporary migrants, poor and affluent migrants—in order to understand the social structural contexts that shape their lives and the ways in which the migrants challenge and change these conditions.  This course will help you to develop a sociological imagination on migration, driven by theoretical concepts such as assimilation (and its variants), racialized/gendered migration and incorporation, and migrant lives within transnational social contexts.  While this course mostly focuses on the US, depending on student interest and time, it will explicitly include contemporary Canadian, European, Australian and Asian scholarship on migration.


SOCI 5806: Theories of the State

NOTE: Permission from instructor required


M 3:35-6:35PM

The focus of this seminar is the role of the state in modern society, and the relationship between the state, the economy, and systems of inequality. We will explore these issues through a variety of theoretical perspectives, including pluralism, business dominance theory, capitalist state structuralist theory, state-centered theory, class dialectic theory, and anarchy theory. We will consider how these models may help frame research questions, with particular attention to analyses of state projects of racial formation, gendering, class relations, and globalization. And we will explore the role of the state in human rights.


SOCI 5896-001: Sexual Citizenship


W 12:20-3:20PM

This course will explore the diversity of ways sexuality serves as an axis of citizenship in diverse nation and international contexts. It will place this discussion in the context of broader discussions of citizenship including analysis of relationship recognition and marriage rights, heteronormativity and compulsory heterosexuality, sexual contract, sex work, and reproductive rights. Among the questions to be addressed are: How is sexual citizenship “gendered”? How is sexual citizenship “racialized” and, as a consequence, how do the lives of people of different racial backgrounds differ in relationship to the state and citizenship rights? How does sexual citizenship differ in different national contexts and change over time? What international policies are relevant for sexual citizenship? What is the role of social movements for expanding sexual citizenship rights? And what are the limits of constructions of sexual citizenship within contemporary processes of globalization and international migration?


School of Social Work Course

SWEL 5345: International Development

Healy and Thomas

F 2/28 9-5, 3/28 1-5, 4/25 9-5 (Hartford campus), and Th 4/3 to F 4/4 in Washington D.C.

This course is designed to help students:  Understand and identify various practice and theories of development; Understand issues related to global poverty; Learn means of measuring development; Identify and explain major issues facing development; Critique and develop a strategic plan for intervention; Explore careers in International Development



Law Courses:


LAW 7592-01: Health and Human Rights (cross listed with PUBH 5497-F44)


Tu 5:30-8:30PM

NOTE: This course meets at the UConn Health Center

This course will explore ways in which human health and well-being are interrelated with human rights. It will study and assess the basic components of governmental obligations related to health under international human rights law. In addition, the course will consider the human rights dimensions of a variety of public health issues, and it will identify the ways in which a human rights approach can be used as an advocacy tool to improve the policies that shape the public's health.


LAW 7609-01: Clinic: Asylum and Human Rights

Bauer & Marton

Tu 2:00-5:00PM

Students in this clinical program represent persons seeking political asylum in the United States. Asylum is available to individuals who can establish a well founded fear of persecution if returned to their home countries. Students exercise primary responsibility for all aspects of the asylum process, including proceedings in the Asylum Office of the Department of Homeland Security and hearings before Immigration judges. Students interview and counsel clients and investigate the facts supporting their claims, research human rights conditions in the client's home country, prepare supporting documentation and a brief in support of the asylum application, and represent clients at hearings and in related matters. Classroom seminars focus on the substantive and procedural law, both international and domestic, relevant to asylum claims, the lawyering skills that students will utilize in their cases, and the discussion of legal, tactical, and ethical issues that arise in the context of the casework. This is a one semester clinic, but students have the opportunity to continue their work in subsequent semesters through Advanced Clinic Fieldwork.


LAW 7655: Employment Discrimination Law 


MW 9:00-10:30AM

This course focuses on a rapidly growing aspect of labor and employment law. The course introduces the concept of discrimination by examining Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Section 1981 of the Civil War Reconstruction Statutes. After exploring the process of proving and defending against individual and systematic discrimination claims, the course considers special problems in discrimination law that may include pregnancy, sexual harassment, sexual preference, religious discrimination and retaliation. The course also examines the alternative approach to discrimination adopted 

in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Fundamentals of statutory construction, litigation strategy, and statistical methods of proof are emphasized. Numerous unresolved issues are addressed throughout the course. Procedures and remedies may also be considered. 


LAW 7759-10: The Nuremberg Trials


TH 6:30-8:30PM

This seminar is a study of war crime trials held in the aftermath of World War II, in their legal and social contexts: from the law of the late Weimer Republic (c. 1928-1933) and the Third Reich (1933-1945); through the Nuremberg Trials (1945-1949) and that of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1961; to related domestic litigation under the Alien Tort Claims Act and otherwise.


LAW 7878-01: International Human Rights

*Core Course for the Human Rights Certificate*


MW 2:00-3:30PM

This course analyzes the essence of human rights in comparison with other rights of citizens. Human rights shall be considered from the viewpoint of international regulation (the United Nations Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights), regulation in different parts of the world and in different countries (United States of America, western European countries, Russia and eastern European countries). Concrete cases of human rights violations and concrete means of protecting human rights will be discussed.


LAW 7883-01: Human Rights/Post Conflict Justice


W 9:00AM-12:00PM

The aim of this course is to examine the law and politics of post-conflict justice institutions, from the Nuremberg Trials to truth commissions to the International Criminal Court.  How do domestic and international institutions deal with past human rights violations and provide justice and adequate redress for victims?  We begin by examining how the Nuremberg trials established the categories of crimes against humanity and individual criminal responsibility in international law.  During the Cold War, these advances in international justice were frozen as many successor governments passed amnesty laws in the wake of internal armed conflicts.  In the absence of retributive justice, new institutions such as truth commissions were established to promote reconciliation and to provide an official account of the violations of the past.  We evaluate the efforts of truth and reconciliation commissions in South Africa and Latin America to document the violations of the authoritarian era. In the 1990s, new international tribunals were established and we examine the politics and case law of UN-sponsored International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, as well as hybrid tribunals such as the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  Finally, we end with a discussion of the work of the International Criminal Court, established by international treaty in 2002.


LAW 7927-01: Law and the Welfare State


TuTh 10:30AM-12:00PM

This course examines the history of and contemporary state of the social welfare programs in the United States. The course examines the welfare state from legal, social, and theoretical perspectives, with major emphasis placed on the origins and enactment of, as well as the eligibility and controversies surrounding, the welfare and social insurance programs enacted in the New Deal. Among the issues presented are the efficacy of entitlement programs in general; the constitutional issues (both state and federal) which arise in the context of eligibility and fair administration (due process); work-related issues; and the social impact of entitlement programs in general. There will be a discussion of the federal welfare reforms of 1996, their implementation and effects in the states, and the spread of similar reform efforts in other countries. Students will have the option of writing a term paper (on a topic approved by the professor) or completing a take-home exam.


Graduate Certificate Director

Contact Professor Shareen Hertel, Director of the Graduate Certificate in Human Rights, at (860) 486-4129 or by e-mail at

For Law School students and applicants please contact Professor Molly Land by email


The Graduate Certificate in Human Rights is designed for graduate students in good academic standing enrolled at the Law School or in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students are encouraged to apply early, but must apply no later than the 10th day of the semester in which they intend to graduate. Please see the application instructions in the “Forms” section at the top of this page for more information on how to apply

Graduate Certificate Course Requirements

The Graduate Certificate in Human Rights requires a minimum total of twelve credits, consisting of one core course and three electives, as detailed below. It is recommended that students take core courses first before moving on to elective courses. Core courses cover the main historical, philosophical and legal questions in human rights. Elective courses allow students to branch out into the various subfields of human rights such as indigenous and cultural rights, economic rights, human rights in Latin America and Europe, and so on. Certificate courses do not require pre-requisites, except for ‘Advanced Constitutional Law’ as indicated.

Core Courses

(One required)

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences-Storrs Campus

UConn Law School-Hartford


(Approved courses for certificate)

Storrs Campus


Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies





Human Rights


Political Science



UConn Law School

[Note: The most suitable courses at the Law School for students from CLAS at Storrs are LAW 7653, LAW 7679, LAW 7872, LAW 7759, and LAW 7883.]

Core Faculty