Human Rights Studies

Program director: James Silk, L39 SLB, 432-1729;


Ned Blackhawk (History), Amity Doolittle (School of Forestry, Environmental Studies), Crystal Feimster (African American Studies, American Studies), Moira Fradinger (Comparative Literature), Inderpal Grewal (Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies), Paul Linden-Retek (Law School, Political Science), Talya Lockman-Fine (Law School), Louisa Lombard (Anthropology), Hope Metcalf (Law School), Alice Miller (Law School, Public Health), Samuel Moyn (Law School, History), Jill Richards (English), Thania Sanchez (Political Science), James Silk (Law School), David Simon (Political Science), Quan Tran (Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, American Studies), Elisabeth Wood (Political Science), Jonathan Wyrtzen (Sociology)

Human Rights Studies Multidisciplinary Academic Program

The Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights Studies presents human rights as a rich and interdisciplinary field of study. The program provides students with the analytical, conceptual, and practical skills necessary for human rights study; connects students to affiliate faculty and peers; supports student research projects and internships; and offers career guidance in the field.

Students apply to the Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights Studies during the fall term of the sophomore year. They also complete the requirements of a Yale College major. Yale College does not offer a major in human rights.

To fulfill the requirements of the program, students complete a gateway course (HMRT 100), four electives, and a capstone seminar (HMRT 400), which entails completion of a final capstone project. The gateway course equips students with the theoretical tools necessary for studying human rights, their evolution, and their justification. It introduces a number of contemporary issues such as gender disparities, racial discrimination, climate change, global health, human trafficking, refugees, world poverty, and humanitarian intervention. Students select four electives from a list of eligible courses provided at the start of each term. In the capstone seminar, students explore advanced issues in international human rights law and advocacy and complete a supervised research project that is informed by extracurricular experience and developed in consultation with the program director and other program advisers. 

Students are also expected to submit three reflections on Schell Center human rights events during the spring term of their sophomore year and one event reflection each term thereafter, and attend program events and gatherings, including weekly dinners during the sophomore spring term and junior fall term.

Additional information is available at the Human Rights program website.


Prerequisite None

Number of courses 6 courses 

Specific courses required HMRT 100

Other requirements  4 electives and event reflections as described

Senior requirement HMRT 400


HMRT 100b / PLSC 148b, Theories, Practices, and Politics of Human RightsPaul Linden-Retek

Introduction to core human-rights issues, ideas, practices, and controversies. The concept of human rights as a philosophical construct, a legal instrument, a political tool, an approach to economic and equity issues, a social agenda, and an international locus of contestation and legitimation. Required for students in the Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights.  SO
MW 1:30pm-2:20pm

* HMRT 400a, Advanced Human Rights ColloquiumJames Silk and Paul Linden-Retek

This course is the culminating seminar for Yale College seniors in the Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights (Human Rights Scholars). The goal of the colloquium is to help students conceive and produce a meaningful capstone project as a culmination of their work in the program. It is a singular opportunity for students to pursue in-depth research in human rights. Open only to Human Rights Scholars in their senior year and a requirement for completing the program. 
T 7pm-8:50pm

* HMRT 470a, Independent StudyJames Silk

Readings in history, policy, theory, advocacy, and methodology of human rights; weekly tutorial and substantial term essay.  RP