Human Rights

Director: Tina K. Reuter (UAB Institute for Human Rights, College of Arts and Sciences)

The BA in Human Rights builds on Birmingham’s history and legacy as the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement and works towards establishing Alabama as a destination for scholars and practitioners interested in human rights and civil rights. An increasing number of topics of societal concern are viewed through a human rights lens. These include global issues – the unprecedented numbers of refugees, the “backsliding” into authoritarian government in many countries, and efforts to better respect the rights of women and children – as well as local issues such as human trafficking and access to education and healthcare.

Upon completing the requirements of the Major in Human Rights, students will be able to:

  1. Define human rights and identify main characteristics, theories, opportunities, and challenges relating to human rights.
  2. Demonstrate awareness and knowledge of human rights concerns that impact communities, states, and nations.
  3. Analyze and assess key issues and controversies relating to human rights, including cultural relativism, the role of the state in protecting (and violating) human rights, genocide and crimes against humanity, rights and protections of underrepresented and marginalized groups, the groups and institutions related to the promotion of human rights, and the advocacy and promotion of global human rights.
  4. Demonstrate understanding of different disciplinary perspectives and approaches to human rights, including in ethical and moral reasoning, law, historical review, policy analyses, social science, and anthropological. 
  5. Analyze and evaluate the connection between human rights in general and Birmingham’s history and legacy relating to the civil rights movement, define current urban policy challenges as they relate to equity and social justice, and participate in the city as a classroom for applied active learning opportunities such as service-learning and internships.
  6. Communicate scientific information effectively in written and oral form and learn how to apply the scientific method as it pertains to interdisciplinary social science research.
  7. Develop the key quantitative and qualitative skills necessary to conduct research relating to human rights, and demonstrate the skills and competencies associated with career readiness.

As human rights touch on multiple dimensions of the human experience, including social and political rights as well as education, health, and economic opportunities, expertise in this area positions graduates for work in a broad variety of career paths. For example, much of the nonprofit sector – a vibrant and rapidly growing part of the economy – deals directly with protecting and advocating for human rights. Similarly, global humanitarian organizations as well as many state, local and federal agencies focus on human rights-related topics such as housing, access to healthcare, equity in employment, human trafficking, and voting rights, just to name a few. Training in human rights can also be an asset to graduates who aspire to work in a wide variety of service-oriented fields related to human rights, including the legal and healthcare professions.

The Human Rights BA is an interdisciplinary major. The program is administered by the College of Arts and Sciences. Students interested in the major may contact Dr. Tina Kempin Reuter through the UAB Institute for Human Rights, or their academic advisor.

Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Human Rights

Blazer Core Curriculum41
Human Rights Requirements
HRT 100 Introduction to Human Rights3
HRT 400 Skills and Methods in Human Rights3
PSC 316Human Rights3
Philosophical Foundations3
Contemporary Moral Issues
Social and Political Philosophy
Ethics: Theories of Good and Evil
Civil Rights3
U.S. Civil Rights Movement
Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Politics and Race in America
Capstone or Internship3
Human Rights Professional Internship
HRT 490 Capstone in Human Rights
Major Electives 118
General Electives 43
Total Hours120

Major electives must be selected from at least two different disciplines - AAS 200, AAS 346, AAS 420, AAS 442, ANTH 292, ANTH 330, ANTH 404, ANTH 424, ANTH 432, CJ 334CJ 403, CJ 442, CJ 443,CMST 324, EH 424, EH 444, HY 239, HY 274, HY 279, HY 344, HY 339, HY 373, HY 374, HY 379, HY 422, HY 430, HY 439, HY 440,HY 444, HY 459, PHL 225, PHL 318, PHL 390, PSC 266PSC 335, PSC 358, PSC 372, PSC 444, PSC 458,PSC 459, PSC 465, PSC 466, PUH 202, PUH 204, PUH 322, PUH 403, PUH 441, PY 417, SOC 245, SOC 250, SOC 278, SOC 431, SW 207, WLL 121


Students must graduate with 9 hours at the 400 level


A grade of C or better is required for all courses applied to the major.

Minor in Human Rights

PSC 316Human Rights3
HRT 485Human Rights Professional Internship3
or HRT 482 Directed Research in Human Rights
Electives 1, 212
At least 9 hours at the 300-400 level
Introduction to African-American Studies
Anthropology of Human Rights
Human Rights, Peace, and Justice
Technological Monitoring of Cultural Resources, Human Rights and Conflict
Transitional Justice and Human Rights
Propaganda, Fake News, and Hate Speech
The Holocaust in History and Literature
The Holocaust in History and Literature
U.S. Civil Rights Movement
Ethnic Cleansing & Genocide 1912-2012
The Death Penalty in America
Race, Crime, Gender and Social Policy
Restorative Justice
Foundations of Education I: Social, Historical, Philosophical
Burning Issues
Ethics of War
The United Nations
The United Nations
Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Memory Politics: Monuments, Museums and Human Rights
Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity
Human Rights and Technology
Human Trafficking
Politics of Transitional Justice
International Law
Introduction to Global Health
Environmental Justice and Ethics
Public Health Law and Policy
What's the Problem? Social Conditions that Disrupt
Sociology of Sex and Gender
Race, Ethnicity, and Inequality
Our Interconnected World
Racism, Sexism and Other Isms
Special Topics in Social Work
Total Hours18


HRT 100. Introduction to Human Rights. 3 Hours.

Serving as a first step in understanding human rights, this course is designed to make students both consumers of state-of-the-art research in human rights at the international and national levels and producers of advocacy projects for human rights improvement at the local level. As such, by the end of this course, students should (1) justify their preferred definition of human rights based on a strong grasp of the various definitions of human rights, including comparisons between universal and culturally contingent perspectives; (2) understand the evolution of human rights and the implications for the three generations of human rights; (3) identify the ways in which human rights may be violated and the cross-national extent of human rights violations; (4) be able to list and discuss several types of efforts aimed at improving respect for human rights, including the efforts associated with inter-governmental organizations, powerful states, and non-governmental organizations; and (5) be capable to advocate for the changes in local human rights.

HRT 400. Skills and Methods in Human Rights. 3 Hours.

This undergraduate course introduces students to the research process in human rights with a focus on mixed, qualitative, and community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods. After a short introduction to human rights principles and concepts, students will learn the basics of study design and human subjects research, interview and focus group preparation and implementation, data collection, qualitative content analysis, and working with underrepresented communities for scholarly purposes. Using a combination of didactic, interactive, and applied approaches, this class will leave students with a deeper understanding of how qualitative, mixed methods, and CBPR research can center the voices of marginalized groups, how researchers can best collaborate and co-create with community partners, and how human rights research can provide agency to involved participants and inform advocacy and policy.

HRT 481. Human Rights Independent Studies. 3 Hours.

Individualized course to explore a Human Rights topic and develop an integrative research portfolio or project. Requires instructor approval.
Prerequisites: PSC 316 [Min Grade: C]

HRT 482. Directed Research in Human Rights. 1-6 Hour.

Directed research on Human Rights. Open to Human Rights minors only. Requires instructor approval.
Prerequisites: PSC 316 [Min Grade: C]

HRT 483. Honors Directed Research in Human Rights. 1-6 Hour.

Directed research on Human Rights, for students enrolled in the Honors College. Open to Human Rights minors and Honors College students only. Requires instructor approval.
Prerequisites: PSC 316 [Min Grade: C]

HRT 485. Human Rights Professional Internship. 3 Hours.

Experiential learning in the field of human rights, allowing students to gain valuable professional experience and develop a reflective professional activity portfolio related to human rights work and advocacy. Instructor permission required.
Prerequisites: PSC 316 [Min Grade: C] or ANTH 404 [Min Grade: C]