Many contemporary (and past) political, economic, social, and legal debates and conflicts have developed around a discourse of rights. Struggles to recognize, protect and promote the dignity and worth of human beings have mobilized social movements, transformed local, national and international structures, and electrified historical periods.

This specialization provides interdisciplinary study of human rights in its public affairs context. Courses address key human rights questions, debates, conflicts and violations in the process of developing expertise in four thematic areas: theories and approaches to human rights; human rights practice and organizations; human rights law, and the social, cultural and ethical dimensions of human rights.

Program of Study

Second Year

  • The Policy Cycle
  • Social Science Research Methods
  • Public Law
  • Research Methods
  • Philosophy of Human Rights
  • Human Rights, Democracy and Social Justice

Third Year

  • Policy Research
  • Introduction to Organization Theory
  • Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law
  • Human Rights Practice in Civil Society
  • Policies of Human Rights
  • Philosophy of Law or History of Ethics, Law and Morality
  • One specialization option in: Human Rights Law, Practice, Theories or Socio-Cultural Dimensions
  • Free elective

Fourth Year

  • Capstone Seminar
  • Honours Research Essay
  • International Protection of Human Rights
  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • Specialization options in: Human Rights Law, Practice, Theories or Socio-Cultural Dimensions
  • Free elective

Career Possibilities

Human Rights is a developing area of concern, public policy development and debate in many different areas of society. For example, human rights issues are core concerns in the areas of trade, crime prevention, employment, international relations, rights of indigenous peoples, and legal processes. People within many different employment sectors are required to respect human rights and also to have comprehensive knowledge of human rights and related legislation.

The civil service, the military, corrections services and police forces have all instituted human rights training for their personnel in response to wide ranging criticism concerning their human rights records. The same can be noted for institutions in the private sector. Personnel of human resource departments within corporations and organizations must be aware of legislative requirements and case law pertaining to human rights (including pay and employment equity, labour standards, and environmental standards) and have an understanding of diversity issues.

For a complete listing of course numbers see the Public Affairs and Policy Management entry in the Carleton University Undergraduate Calendar.