Section Description Provided by Instructor
Fall: 7 credits: 4 graded for seminar component & 3 graded for project work
Spring: 5 credits: 2 graded for seminar component & 3 graded for project work
Credit adjustments possible in exceptional circumstances in consultation with professor
The Human Rights Clinic prepares students for lifelong careers in social justice advocacy around the globe. Through the Clinic, students join a community of advocates working to promote human rights and to recalibrate the global power imbalances that drive economic and political inequality, exploitation, threats to physical security, poverty, and environmental injustice. Through fact-finding, reporting, litigation, media engagement, advocacy, training, and innovative methods, the Clinic seeks to prevent abuse, promote accountability, and advance respect for human rights. Embedded in the Clinic's work is a commitment to the values of equality and mutual exchange in transnational partnerships; respect for rights-holder autonomy, voice, and power; and diversity, inclusion, full participation, and justice within the human rights field.
Through a combination of Seminars and Project Work, and with the mentorship of Clinic professors and supervisors, students develop the wide range of skills necessary to be strategic and creative human rights advocates, critically analyze human rights, and advance the human rights methodologies of the Clinic and the human rights field.
Clinic Seminars provide a map of the terrain of international human rights advocacy, including the field's dominant strategies, methods, and critiques, equipping students with the knowledge and the tools to navigate the field with confidence and critical reflection. Students learn to assess where they and human rights projects are positioned, the available routes for action, and how to ethically, pragmatically, and responsibly choose which steps to take toward which ends. They learn project selection and design; choice and sequence of advocacy tactics; fact-finding and interdisciplinary research methods; interviewing witnesses, experts, and perpetrators; evidence assessment; digital and physical security; report and brief-writing; using judicial and quasi-judicial processes; advocacy options at the local, national, regional, and international levels; engaging the press and using social media; mitigating vicarious trauma and promoting resilience; ethical frameworks and the navigation of ethical dilemmas; and accountability and project evaluation. The Clinic engages students in an active and co-creator mode of education, and students are taught to self-assess and monitor their own progress, and are involved in building the methods, pedagogy, and institution of the Clinic itself.
Students work in teams on projects pursuing social justice in partnership with civil society and communities. Clinic Projects vary from year to year, each addressing marginalized, urgent, and complex human rights issues around the world, including in Peru, Chad, Centrafrique, Papua New Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, and the United States. Past projects have addressed corporate accountability for human rights violations and environmental harms in the extractives industry, human rights and humanitarian law violations in counterterrorism operations and armed conflict, the right to health, abuses by UN peacekeepers, and sexual violence. Through its project work, the Clinic functions similarly to a non-governmental organization, with students implementing advocacy projects.
The Clinic is also a laboratory for testing new, innovative, and interdisciplinary modes of human rights work, and seeks to be a model of rigorous and critical human rights advocacy.
To provide a support structure for these goals, the Clinic builds a community of current students, alumni, scholars, and advocates who support one another and collaborate toward the advancement of human rights.
For more, please visit: http://web.law.columbia.edu/clinics/human-rights-clinic
M 3:00-4:50 pm
R 4:20-6:10 pm
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Minor (upon consultation), Major (only upon consultation)
Admission by application during the April Clinic Application period - see Law School Clinic page for more information.
Learning Outcome Goals
- key human rights advocacy tactics & skills, including fact-finding, interviewing, digital/physical security, report/brief-writing, media work, using nat'l/regional/int'l justice mechanisms, mitigating vicarious trauma & promoting resilience, project eval
- strategic human rights advocacy, including tactical mapping and strategies for selecting and sequencing human rights tactics
- critiques of the international human rights field, and skills to design and implement reforms to human rights work
- ethical frameworks and approaches to navigating common ethical dilemmas in the human rights field, including knowledge of international guidelines and rights-based principles
- collaborative, community-building forms of working and learning, providing constructive feedback to peers, self-assessment, and skills in contributing to clinic or other institutional growth