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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 Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives 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 Capstone Project: Human Rights Minor (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 6W. Service-Learning Workshop on Human Trafficking. 3 Units.

Considers purpose, practice, and ethics of service learning. Provides training for students' work in community. Examines current scope of human trafficking in Bay Area, pressing concerns, capacity and obstacles to effectively address them. Students work with community partners dedicated to confronting human trafficking and problems it entails on a daily basis. Must currently be enrolled in or have previously taken HISTORY 5C/105C (FEMGEN 5C/105C, HumBio 178H, IR 105C, CSRE 5C/105C). (Cardinal Course certified by the Haas Center).

HUMRTS 7W. Service-Learning Workshop on Human Trafficking Part II. 3 Units.

Prerequisite: HISTORY6W (FEMGEN 6W). Continuation of HISTORY 6W (FEMGEN 6W). Students will continue working on their projects with their community partners. Several class meetings and small group consultations throughout the quarter. (Cardinal Course certified by the Haas Center).

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

In this survey human rights course, students will learn about 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 departments across the university as well as practitioners from a variety of professional fields. The course seeks to illuminate for 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. This course fulfills the gateway course requirement for the minor in Human Rights.

HUMRTS 102. International Justice. 4-5 Units.

(Formerly IPS 208A) 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: INTLPOL 208A

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

(Formerly IPS 280) 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.

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

One in every five Americans has some kind of disability according to the Census Bureau, making this group the largest minority in America. Disability Studies is a relatively new interdisciplinary academic field that examines disability as a social, cultural and political phenomenon. Disability is an elusive, complex and fluid concept that encompasses a range of bodily, cognitive and sensory differences and abilities. It is produced as much by environmental and social factors as it is by bodily functions and pathology. 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, anti-discrimination law, the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, bioethical dilemmas pertaining to disability and more.
Same as: ETHICSOC 104, FEMGEN 94H, SOC 186

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

This course examines core human rights issues and concepts from a comparative and historical perspective. In the beginning part of the course we will focus on current debates about the universality of human rights norms, considering the foundation of the international human rights regime and claims that it is a product of western colonialism, imperialism, or hegemony. We will then discuss a series of issues where the debates about universality are particularly acute: gender inequality and discrimination, sexual violence, child marriage and forced marriage more generally, and other related topics. We will also consider the way in which issues of gender-based violence arise in the context of internal and international conflicts.
Same as: CLASSICS 116, ETHICSOC 106

HUMRTS 107. Understanding the Impact of New Technologies on Human Rights Investigations and Transitional Justice. 3 Units.

This course will offer students insights into the philosophical underpinnings of the field of transitional justice coupled with a practical lens through which to study different ways governments and human rights institutions pursue justice, broadly defined, in the wake of mass atrocities or systemic repression. Students will closely examine a number of jurisdictions contemplating or currently undergoing a transitional justice process such as Colombia, Syria, Burma/Myanmar, Tunisia, the Central African Republic, and Iraq with an eye towards understanding the changing nature of human rights investigations and prosecutions. In particular, we will consider how advances in technology have altered the possibilities for international criminal tribunals and justice mechanisms as well as the potential for innovative new mechanisms like the UN General Assembly-created International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism for Syria (iiiM) to change the field of international justice. Students will contribute to an ongoing transitional justice process by way of a final project.nnThis is a required course for students participating in the BOSP faculty-initiated program overseas trip to Colombia. Enrollment preference for HUMRTS 107 will be given to students enrolled or waitlisted for participation in the corresponding OSPGEN summer trip to Colombia, however, students who cannot participate in the travel portion are welcome to take HUMRTS 107, as well.

HUMRTS 108. Spanish Immersion Service-Learning: Migration, Asylum, and Human Rights at the U.S. Mexico Border. 1-3 Unit.

This community engaged learning workshop is open only to students who are concurrently enrolled in SPANLANG 108SL: Spanish Immersion and Asylum Law. Students who opt into HUMRTS 108 will have the opportunity to apply their advanced Spanish language skills and knowledge from the class as volunteers with the Dilley Bro Bono Project in Dilley, Texas for one week immediately following the academic term. Students will work directly with detained Spanish-speaking families seeking asylum to prepare them for the credible fear interview (CFI). The Dilley Pro Bono Project will train students to conduct CFI orientations for asylum-seekers and provide guidance on how to prepare them for their interview. This course requires an application process. Please email instructor Vivian Brates to get a link to the appropriate web form.

HUMRTS 109. Slavery, human trafficking, and the moral order: ancient and modern. 3 Units.

Slavery and trafficking in persons in the Greco-Roman world were legal and ubiquitous; today slavery is illegal in most states and regarded as a grave violation of human rights and as a crime against humanity under international law. In recent trends, human trafficking has been re-conceptualized as a form of "modern day slavery. " Despite more than a century since the success of the abolition movement, slavery and trafficking continue in the 21st century on a global scale. The only book for the course is: Peter Garnsey, Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine, Cambridge University Press.
Same as: CLASSICS 118, CLASSICS 218

HUMRTS 110. Global Women's Issues in Human Rights and Health. 4 Units.

This course provides an overview of international women's human rights issues presented in the context of a woman's life, beginning in infancy and childhood and moving through adolescence, reproductive years, and aging. The approach to women's human rights is broad, taking into account economic and social factors and particularly the importance of women's capacities to manage their lives in the face of societal pressures and obstacles. Attention will be given to critical issues, such as: discrimination against women; poverty; unequal access to the cash economy, education, food, and health care; and violence. Issues such as maternal mortality, sexually transmitted diseases, violence in the home and in conflict and refugee situations, unequal access to economic opportunity, and sex trafficking will be discussed, with particular emphasis on promising interventions relating to the issues.

HUMRTS 111. Agape Love as a Force for Human Rights and Social Justice. 4 Units.

This course will explore the concept of agape love as a force for social justice and the promotion of human rights and as the inspiration for service and the application of knowledge to positive social change. Biological, psychological, religious, and social perspectives of love will be discussed, drawing on the expertise of people from a variety of disciplines. During the ten-week quarter, the following topics will be raised and discussed: kinds of love/should we define love; non-violent communication; love and the biology of the brain; love as a human right; love as mutual empowerment; love as a basic concept of religious and ethical beliefs (Buddhism, Christianity, Gandhian Thought, Islam, Judaism); and artistic and poetic expressions of love as a social force. This curriculum will hopefully foster a sense of the importance of love as a key phenomenon in creating community, connection, and functional societies among humans.

HUMRTS 112. Human Trafficking: Historical, Legal, and Medical Perspectives. 5 Units.

(Same as HISTORY 5C. History majors and others taking 5 units, enroll in 105C.) Interdisciplinary approach to understanding the extent and complexity of the global phenomenon of human trafficking, especially for forced prostitution, labor exploitation, and organ trade, focusing on human rights violations and remedies. Provides a historical context for the development and spread of human trafficking. Analyzes the current international and domestic legal and policy frameworks to combat trafficking and evaluates their practical implementation. Examines the medical, psychological, and public health issues involved. Uses problem-based learning. Students interested in service learning should consult with the instructor and will enroll in an additional course.
Same as: CSRE 105C, EMED 105C, FEMGEN 105C, HISTORY 105C, INTNLREL 105C

HUMRTS 113. Women Activists' Response to War. 4-5 Units.

Theoretical issues, historical origins, changing forms of women's activism in response to war throughout the 20th century, and contemporary cases, such as the Russian Committee of Soldiers Mothers, Bosnian Mothers of Srebrenica, Serbian Women in Black, and the American Cindy Sheehan. Focus is on the U.S. and Eastern Europe, with attention to Israel, England, and Argentina.
Same as: FEMGEN 208B, HISTORY 208B, HISTORY 308B

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. Department consent is required for enrollment. Please contact indicating your plan and demonstrating agreement from the 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. Department consent is required for enrollment. Please contact indicating your plan and demonstrating agreement from the your advisor.