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

WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice is the newest addition to the Stanford Global Studies Division. Originally founded in 2000 at the University of California Berkeley by Professor David Cohen, the Handa Center relocated to Stanford in May 2014.

The Handa Center is dedicated to promoting the rule of law, accountability, and human rights around the world through education, critical scholarship, and policy advocacy. Working within the School of Humanities and Sciences, the Handa 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 Handa Center’s interdisciplinary Human Rights Minor ensures students receive invaluable 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. Contact Handa Center Program Manager Jessie Brunner ( to state your interest in the Human Rights Minor.

2. You will receive a personalized human rights minor declaration form to complete.

3. Once you have completed the form, schedule an appointment to review your preliminary academic plan with Handa Center staff. All plans will be reviewed by Faculty Director, David Cohen.

4. Once the Faculty Director has approved your academic plan, you may declare Human Rights as your 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: Crossdisciplinary Perspective 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 Human Rights Capstone (3-5 units)
  5. Under the supervision of an Academic Council member, students propose and complete a 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. 
  6. At least 10 of the 25 units must be completed on Stanford’s campus.
  7. 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.
  8. All students must maintain a GPA of no less than 3.0 in the classes counting toward the minor.

Director: David Cohen

Associate Director: Penelope Van Tuyl

Faculty Advisory Board: JP Daughton (History), Larry Diamond (Political Science, Faculty Director of the Haas Center for Public Service), James Fearon (Political Science, Frank Fukuyama (Political Science, Director of CDDRL), Katherine Jolluck (History), Margaret Levi (Political Science, Director of CASBS), Tanya Luhrmann (Anthropology), Anne Firth Murray (Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), Norman Naimark (History, Director of SGS), Josh Ober (Classics and Philosophy), David Palumbo-Liu (English and Comparative Literature), Richard Roberts (History, Co-Director of the Center for African Studies), Beth Van Schaack (Law, International Policy Studies), Jeremy Weinstein (Political Science), Paul Wise (Medicine)


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

In this survey human rights course, students will learn about 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. We will discuss 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 across the university. This course fulfills the gateway course requirement for the minor in Human Rights. HUMRTS 101 was previously listed as GLOBAL 105.

HUMRTS 102. International Justice. 4-5 Units.

This course will examine the arc of an atrocity. It begins with an introduction to the interdisciplinary scholarship on the causes and enablers of mass violence genocide, war crimes, terrorism, and state repression. It then considers political and legal responses ranging from humanitarian intervention (within and without the Responsibility to Protect framework), sanctions, commissions of inquiry, and accountability mechanisms, including criminal trials before international and domestic tribunals. The course will also explore the range of transitional justice mechanisms available to policymakers as societies emerge from periods of violence and repression, including truth commissions, illustrations, and amnesties. Coming full circle, the course will evaluate current efforts aimed at atrocity prevention, rather than response, including President Obama¿s atrocities prevention initiative. Readings address the philosophical underpinnings of justice, questions of institutional design, and the way in which different societies have balanced competing policy imperatives. Cross-listed with LAW 5033.
Same as: IPS 208A

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

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.
Same as: ETHICSOC 280, INTNLREL 180A, IPS 280

HUMRTS 104. Introduction to Disability Studies and Disability Rights. 4 Units.

Disability Studies is a relatively new interdisciplinary academic field that examines disability as a social, cultural and political phenomenon. This is an introductory course to the field of disability studies and it aims to investigate the complex concept of disability through a variety of prisms and disciplines including social psychology, the humanities, legal studies and media studies. This course also focuses on the multiple connections between the study of disability and other identities including class, race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, and also includes a comparative look at how disability is treated across cultures. Some of the topics covered in the class are disability and the family, the history of the disability rights movement, the development of disability identity and its intersectionality, antidiscrimination law, the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, bioethical dilemmas pertaining to disability and more.
Same as: ETHICSOC 104X, FEMGEN 94H, SOC 186

HUMRTS 105. Special Topics: Humanizing War. 5 Units.

War exposes the most barbarous face of human nature, so the notion that societies can impose order and morality on warfare may seem paradoxical and even futile. Yet throughout history, people have sought to¿and indeed succeeded in¿humanize war. Who are the political actors that have attempted this Herculean task? What strategies have they taken to do so? What are the laws, norms, and organizations structure the ways in which wars are fought? This course will answer these questions, drawing primarily from political science theory and evidence.
Same as: POLISCI 211A

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

The course will examine the way in issues now considered to be at the core of human rights concerns have been dealt with in different historical and cultural contexts. The themes of the course will center on human trafficking and slavery, sexual violence, and mass atrocity crimes such as genocide. The course will thus not be a chronological survey but rather thematic and comparative in its approach, including consideration, of course, of ancient societies in Greece, Rome, and China.
Same as: CLASSICS 116

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. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

HUMRTS 199. Capstone Project: Human Rights Minor. 3-5 Units.

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.