What is Human Rights Studies?

Human Rights are predicated upon the belief that every human being deserves to be treated with equal dignity, and that every person has inherent value. But how do we move towards these goals? Human Rights Studies interrogate how we fulfill these ideals, but also how we fail to do so in different times and places. It equips students with the intellectual and practical skills they need to explore, understand, and act-to become protagonists in the equal granting of all human beings the status and the rights associated with their being.

Human Rights Studies Checklist

This is a new collaborative degree program that integrates approaches from across the disciplines to provide students with critical understanding of, and experience in, the growing field of human rights.

  • These are the most fundamental rights and freedoms belonging to all human beings, including equality, dignity, the right to work and to education, and freedom of opinion and expression. The United Nations declares that “everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.”
  • Using a cross-disciplinary approach, Human Rights Studies at King’s equips students to understand and to critique the effectiveness of legal, diplomatic and political frameworks that have been employed to protect human rights.
  • The program also examines how different groups have understood and fought for expanded rights protection throughout history.
  • Topics include women’s rights; the rights of minorities; refugees and displaced persons; Indigenous rights; and remedies for human rights violations in domestic and international law.

Your experiences in studying Human Rights at King’s will prepare you to recognize and understand the variety of rights violations you will encounter throughout your lifetime. As an educator, as a law enforcement officer, as a politician, a policy-maker, a lawyer, an artist or a health-care worker-the ability to fulfill your mandate in all areas of service to humanity will be enhanced by the knowledge, skills, and experience you will acquire in this area of study. In acknowledging human rights, their power and their fragility, we become fully human.

Even though we say that everyone is entitled to these basic rights and freedoms, many individuals and groups in Canada and around the world still are systematically deprived of these rights, often by powerful actors like governments and industry. There is an urgent need to understand what human rights are, where they come from, and how they can be used today to protect vulnerable individuals and groups from powerful institutions and actors.

Studying human rights at King’s will provide students with the subject knowledge and practical skills needed to:

  • engage in informed debate over the historical origins and development of human rights, including the philosophical and ethical foundations of our modern human rights system
  • identify theoretical and practical questions around the effectiveness of human rights laws and policies in practice
  • consider the nature of human rights through different disciplinary and theoretical perspective
  • use historical and contemporary examples to formulate an argument on the universality of human rights (as an idea) and of the modern system of human rights (in practice)
  • articulate an understanding of the ways in which different groups and individuals around the globe have historically fought for greater human rights protection

Students will engage with expert faculty and practitioners on a wide range of topics related to the origins and development of human rights, and to their contemporary application in various fields of study and practice, including law, education, journalism, humanitarian relief and law enforcement.

If you cannot open the course description toggles, please press ctrl + f5 (PC) or Option + Command + E (mac/safari) to reload the page

= Special Topic | = Seminar | = Selected
Offered during current academic year.

= Special Topic | = Seminar | = Selected
Offered during current academic year.

= Offered | = Special Topic | = Seminar | = Selected

Chinese president Xi Jinping speaking to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Why did Xi scold Trudeau?

Dr. David Webster, Associate Professor in the Department of History, writes in The Conversation about human rights “dialogues” between Canada and China. Read more...

In the News