Welcome to Human Rights & Equity Studies

Students in Human Rights and Equity Studies explore the ethical principles of human rights as well as the roots and impact of human rights violations and efforts at redress. Problems of physical, social and economic security, cultural autonomy, and political rights and fundamental freedoms are examined.

Our understanding of human rights recognizes that many states, legislatures, and institutions may engage in human rights violations while claiming to support human rights.  For that reason, our program is critical; it interrogates state and other institutional claims with a view to their actual human rights practices.

We also recognize that in order to understand human rights violations we have to look at questions of equity, including how race, ethnicity, citizenship status, gender and sexuality can render individuals more vulnerable to human rights violations.

Finally, we acknowledge that human rights are not simply about the rights of individuals.  The collective rights of minority and Indigenous groups—to practice self-determination on their traditional lands, to speak their Indigenous languages, to resist genocide, to not be treated as expendable peoples--are also central issues in human rights.

If you are interested in these issues, Human Rights and Equity Studies is the program for you.

Students begin by taking AP/HREQ 1010 6.00 Introduction to Human Rights and Equity Studies.  Our other core and optional courses are described on our Courses page, while “About the Program” will tell you about the program itself.  Students wishing to pursue graduate study can combine Human Rights and Equity Studies with a second major in another discipline. Often our students take a second major in Indigenous Studies, which provides them with a solid grounding in the rights of Indigenous peoples.