6 free online courses to learn more about human rights

By Saanya Gulati

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have emerged as a powerful tool to access human rights education anywhere.

In November 2015 Amnesty International launched its first MOOC in partnership with EdX, “Human Rights: The Right to Freedom of Expression,” which is currently accessible in archived format. The course was built for participants to learn how to defend their right to freedom of expression, wherever they come from. We have collected six additional online courses on human rights from a variety of different providers, which are free of charge, and fully accessible online.

1. Introduction to Human Rights

The first half of this course provides a general overview of the core concepts in human rights, such as the notion of ethics and morals, and the principles of equality. It then moves onto covering various issues in the contemporary global human rights agenda, such as migration, terrorism, anti-corruption, intellectual property, the environment, and the rights of women and children.

Lawyer and Human Rights Professor, Jose Zalaquett, who co-teaches this course, is both a practitioner and educator. In addition to being the former President of Amnesty International‘s Executive Committee, and the Legal Department of the Peace Cooperation Committee for Chile, he heads the MOOC Chile project, which is an online platform dedicated to human rights education.

When/Where: This course is available on Udemy throughout the year, and is self-paced.

Modules: 6 hours of lecture material.

Language:  English and Spanish.

2. Three Human Rights Courses by Amnesty International Venezuela

Amnesty International Venezuela has launched three online courses that are designed for individuals who wish to expand their knowledge of human rights: Introduction to Human Rights, Non-Discrimination and LGBT Rights, and Reduction of Armed Violence. The courses combine taught modules with interactive exercises and projects that encourage learners to reflect on the differences between various human rights violations, as well as the state’s obligation to protect human rights. While the introductory course focuses on some of the key elements and characteristics of human rights, the latter two cover more specialised knowledge about principles of non-discrimination, as well as the impact of uncontrolled proliferation of firearms and ammunition on human rights

When/Where: All three courses are available on Learnsity and are self-paced.

Modules: The three courses consist of approximately 45 modules in total.

Language: Spanish

3. International Human Rights

Taught by the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, this course covers the key areas around the development of international human rights law and its enforcement. For example, some of the modules focus on questions such as, ‘when may human rights be restricted?’ or 'when must the state intervene to protect human rights?’ Drawing on different jurisdictions and case law, the course takes a comparative approach to studying topics such as human rights in employment relationships, economic and social rights in development, and human rights in the fight against terrorism.

When/Where: This course resumes on 15 June 2016 on EdX.

Modules: The course is 10 weeks long, and the estimated time commitment is 6 to 8 hours per week.

Language: English

More than 26,000 persons signed up for Amnesty International's first MOOC on "Human Rights: The Right to Freedom of Expression" that it launched in November, 2015 in partnership with EdX. More than 26,000 persons signed up for Amnesty International's first MOOC on "Human Rights: The Right to Freedom of Expression" that it launched in November, 2015 in partnership with EdX.
30,000 people registered for Amnesty International's first MOOC on 'Human Rights: The Right to Freedom of Expression,' which it launched in partnership with EdX in November 2015.

4. The EU and Human Rights

As a global actor in the field of human rights, this course is concerned with the challenges and factors that affect the European Union’s performance in relation to human rights. The modules are accompanied with case studies that illustrate some of the initiatives undertaken by the EU to fulfil its internal and external human rights obligations. The multi-instructor format allows for a wide representation of different EU member states, such as Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and Denmark, across the course.

When/Where: This course resumes on 21 June 2016 on EdX.

Modules: The course is 7 weeks long, and the estimated time commitment is 4 to 6 hours per week.

Language(s): English

5. International Women’s Health and Human Rights

This course provides an overview of women’s health and human rights, from infancy to all ages, and covers topics from access to education, and food, to reproductive health, violence against women, and sex trafficking.  The four critical themes that inform the various modules are being born and female discrimination, poverty, unequal access to basic services, and different forms of gender-based violence. 

Designed by activist and the Global Fund for Women’s President Anne Firth Murray, the modules include lectures and interviews with a range of scholars, experts and NGO leaders. A fortnightly component called ‘Tea Time with Anne’, also allows students to submit questions that are relevant to the topics covered, and comment on current events related to women’s health and human rights.

When/Where: Although the course is not currently in session, the archived material is available on Lagunita, Stanford’s online learning platform.

Modules: The course is 8 weeks long

Language: The course is available in English, with Spanish subtitles.

6. Psychology of Political Activism: Women Changing the World 

Although this course is not directly covering human rights it is fundamentally connected with activism and the psychological theories that were developed to understand what motivates individuals to participate in collective action and work towards social change. In order to practically apply these theories, the course uses nine case studies that were created using one of the most extensive collections of oral histories from women activists around the world. In addition to the lecture modules, the material includes video excerpts with these activists, interactive digital timelines, and study groups.  

When/Where: Although the course is not currently in session, the archived material is available on EdX.

Modules: The course is 7 weeks long.

Language: English                                       

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