Course Information

Course Description: Human Rights Clinic

NOTE: During academic year 2024 – 2025, the Human Rights Clinic will be offered ONLY during the spring 2025 semester. The Human Rights Clinic WILL NOT be offered during the fall 2024 semester.

Working from the advocate’s perspective, students collaborate with human rights organizations worldwide. Students support human rights claims in domestic and international fora, investigate and document human rights violations, develop and participate in advocacy initiatives before the United Nations, and engage with global and local human rights campaigns. The clinic draws on international human rights laws and norms along with domestic law and policy.

Human Rights Clinic class, spring 2023
Human Rights Clinic class, spring 2023

Taking on primary responsibility for their projects, students develop both theoretical and practical skills. The range of projects handled by the Human Rights Clinic illustrates the breadth of human rights practice, including fact-finding, supporting litigation, reporting and using the press, and other kinds of public advocacy. Through this work, students learn substantive human rights law, develop professional techniques and cultural competency, and explore different models for ethical, responsible, and effective promotion and protection of human rights. Students work in small project teams receiving ongoing mentorship from their professor.

The clinic meets two times per week. Classroom lectures and discussions focus on substantive human rights law, interviewing clients, case and project preparation, strategy, and review of ongoing cases and projects. In addition to the classroom component, students should expect to spend 15–20 hours per week on clinic work. The weekly workload varies substantially, depending upon the stage of each project or case. Clinic work may include some travel.

Many of the clinic’s projects and cases are from Latin America. Fluency in Spanish is preferred but not required. Volunteer interpreters are often available. Preference is given to students who have taken a human rights course or who have other human rights or public interest experience.