Amnesty International USA Resource Notebook: Syllabi for the College Classroom


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Download Human Rights Exercises for the University Classroom

This online collection of human rights syllabi is designed for use by university or college instructors in human rights courses being taught in institutions of higher education. Most syllabi have come from institutions located in the U.S.; a few are located in other countries. All are enthusiastically welcomed.

Faculty at institutions of higher education are frequently engaged in human rights activities outside the walls of the academy. For those seeking pedagogical support in bridging the gap between activism and academia, between the practice and the teaching of human rights, the syllabi will, we hope, facilitate the process.

Purposes of "Syllabi for the College Classroom"

  1. To make available a collection of classroom-tested syllabi for the teaching of courses on human rights across a broad range of disciplines.
  2. To stimulate the creation of new inter- and cross-disciplinary courses involving human rights.
  3. To make it feasible for instructors of disparate disciplines to enrich their course curriculum utilizing material in "Human Rights Syllabi."


The point of departure of a human rights course tends to reflect the field of expertise of the instructor, be it international affairs, religion, disability rights, economics, philosophy, women's rights, anthropology, and on. The syllabi are gathered here under the various headings.

Please note that it is not uncommon for courses to cover topics that span more than one discipline. Browsers are therefore encouraged to scan the complete collection.

College level

Some of the syllabi specify that they are used in undergraduate classes; some specify their use in graduate classes; some do not specify.

Syllabi format

The syllabi are reproduced here exactly as received from individual instructors, and thus reflect diverse approaches. Uniformity is not a criterion in compiling and expanding the website.


Most syllabi contain bibliographies that instructors should find helpful in planning reading lists for human rights courses.

Process Used in Collecting Syllabi

All of the course syllabi were gathered from colleagues teaching human rights in institutions of higher education around the world. All instructors were given to understand that their syllabus would be available free of charge on the website, with no acknowledgment required.


We are very appreciative of the cooperation of colleagues old and new who continue to submit their syllabi for educational use by scholars and students around the world. We thank members of the Amnesty USA Human Rights Educators Network who inspired this initiative. We owe a great debt of thanks to Harry Kreisler and Letitia Carper of the University of California, Berkeley, Institute of International Studies, for creating and maintaining the website throughout its early years. Currently, we are no less greatly endebted to Professor Renate Holub, Director of Interdisciplinary Field Studies in U.C. Berkeley's Undergraduate & Interdisciplinary Studies, and to Joe Sartelle, Information Systems Analyst for UGIS, for welcoming and maintaining the website.

Special note

If you are teaching a college-level human rights course, whether or not you have already been contacted, we encourage you to consider this a personal invitation to send your syllabus to me at the email address below. Further, we encourage you and everyone reading this to take the initiative in making new connections with instructors of human rights courses, in order to obtain their syllabi. Please feel free to post this notice on your department bulletin-board.

If you would kindly forward names and email addresses of instructors - both inside and outside the United States - to ritam(at), we will follow up with a request for additional syllabi.

Rita Maran, Ph.D.
University Lecturer on Human Rights
Berkeley, California
September 2009

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