Human Rights


  • Greg Hamot

Associate director

  • Amy Weismann


Affiliated faculty

  • Loyce Arthur (Theatre Arts), Jeremy Brigham (International Programs), Diana Cates (Religious Studies), Mary Cohen (Education/Music), Carolyn Colvin (Education), Jovana Davidovic (Philosophy), Brian Farrell (Law/International Programs), Elizabeth Heineman (History/Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies), Maureen McCue (Interdisciplinary Programs/International Programs/Epidemiology), Nathan Miller (Law), David Osterberg (Occupational and Environmental Health), Sally Scott (Public Policy Center), Shelton Stromquist (History), Burns H. Weston (Law), Andrew Willard (International Programs/University of Iowa Honors Program), Adrien Wing (Law)
Undergraduate certificate: human rights

Human rights concern the inherent dignity of all human beings and the promotion and protection of that dignity regardless of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, culture, nationality, birth, or other status. The Certificate in Human Rights program broadens students' understanding of human rights issues and helps them learn how to use an interdisciplinary approach to identify solutions.

Course work for the certificate is drawn from units across The University of Iowa. It prepares students to examine societal problems critically and to design specific solutions to human rights dilemmas in a wide range of areas, such as civil governance, the situations of women and racial and sexual minorities, child welfare, socioeconomic development and well-being, hunger and poverty, education, health, immigration, ecological sustainability, and mass violence.

The Certificate in Human Rights is administered by the College of Law and awarded by University College.

Undergraduate Program of Study

  • Certificate in Human Rights


The Certificate in Human Rights requires 18 s.h. of credit. The certificate program is open to current University of Iowa undergraduate students and to all individuals who hold a bachelor's degree and are not enrolled in a graduate or professional degree program. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 in work for the certificate. They may count a maximum of 6 s.h. of transfer credit toward the certificate with approval from the certificate program's faculty advisory group. Completion of the certificate is noted on the student's transcript.

Individuals must declare their intent to earn the certificate. They must consult with the Certificate in Human Rights advisor to complete a plan of study; see the Certificate in Human Rights web site for details.

The Certificate in Human Rights requires the following course work.

Philosophical foundations and contemporary issues in human rights—both of these (6 s.h.):

HRTS:2115 (216:080)/IS:2115 (187:080) Introduction to Human Rights3 s.h.
PHIL:3430 (026:130) Philosophy of Human Rights3 s.h.

Human rights in practice—all of these (total of 12 s.h.):

HRTS:3905 (216:176)/IS:3905 (187:176) Topics in Human Rights3 s.h.
HRTS:3906 (216:177) Human Rights Systems: Institutions and Mechanisms Enforcing and Implementing Human Rights3 s.h.
HRTS:3910 (216:180)/IS:3910 (187:180) Human Rights Advocacy3 s.h.
HRTS:3920 (216:185) Seminar in Human Rights Praxis: Supervised Internship3 s.h.

Contact the certificate program advisor to learn about additional University of Iowa courses that relate to human rights. Individual students who would like to make substitutions for required courses must meet with the certificate program advisor; then they must submit a petition form to the program's faculty advisory group.


HRTS:2115 (216:080) Introduction to Human Rights3 s.h.
Analysis and evaluation of the international human rights program; relationship between human rights and international law. Same as IS:2115 (187:080).
HRTS:3895 (216:174) Human Rights and Community Development3 s.h.
Exploration of connections and tensions between human rights as defined by member states of the United Nations; meaning and practice of community development, especially but not exclusively, in the United States; focus on critical thinking, in‑depth discussion of readings, group work, and individual writing.
HRTS:3900 (216:175) Child Labor and International Human Rights3 s.h.
Complexity of child labor in global, regional, national, and local contexts; international human rights system, current programs and strategies for reducing or eliminating abusive child labor. Same as IS:3900 (187:175).
HRTS:3905 (216:176) Topics in Human Rights1-3 s.h.
Examination of emerging human rights issues from an interdisciplinary and international perspective. Same as IS:3905 (187:176).
HRTS:3906 (216:177) Human Rights Systems: Institutions and Mechanisms Enforcing and Implementing Human Rights3 s.h.
Beginning of modern human rights era in 1948 and newly formed United Nations as one of the few institutions acting to protect human rights; present day aspiring advocates confronted by bewildering array of institutions to which they might bring human rights concerns; human rights enforcement mechanisms from an advocate's point of view; shortcomings of human rights enforcement and how it can be made better; broad definition of advocacy; legal and nonlegal conceptions of enforcement.
HRTS:3910 (216:180) Human Rights Advocacy3 s.h.
Theoretical foundations and critical issues for international human rights advocacy and international humanitarian movements. Same as IS:3910 (187:180).
HRTS:3915 (216:181) Human Rights and the Arts3 s.h.
Ways in which violations of and struggle for human rights have affected and been affected by literary, musical, visual, architectural, and theatrical/dramatic arts in various countries past and present; art considered as expression, as market of identity, and as historical document.
HRTS:3920 (216:185) Seminar in Human Rights Praxis: Supervised Internshiparr.
Supervised internship in human rights praxis; focus on field‑based advocacy and human rights frameworks.
HRTS:4283 (216:173) U.S. Women's History as the History of Human Rights3-4 s.h.
History of human rights in the United States traced through the perspective of women; aspects of women's experience (social, political, intellectual) related to fundamental human rights—right to a nationality, right to life, liberty and personal security, right to freedom of movement, right to take part in the government of their country, right to own property; these and other rights specified by the United Nations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948; different history of men and women enjoying these rights; how human rights have been constructed and experienced in the United States from the era of colonial settlement to present. Same as HIST:4283 (16A:173), AMST:4283 (045:173), GWSS:4283 (131:173).