Human Rights Interdisciplinary

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program


Human rights have become the moral language of today, the idiom in which we discuss our common humanity and weigh competing claims for resources, rights and protections. The Human Rights Interdisciplinary (HRI) minor at UC Berkeley allows students to shape their education around coursework which investigates the legal, political, historical, economic, social, psychological, and representational dynamics of human rights.

Helping undergraduates explore issues via multiple forms of thought and media of expression—through literature as well as politics, journalism as well as law, film as well as anthropology—the HRI minor emphasizes the many different intellectual spaces in which human rights questions are currently being posed. In so doing, it encourages students to recognize how human rights are intertwined with fields as disparate as postcolonial literature and medical ethics, as well as with the more familiar fields of political science and international law.

Declaring the Minor

The first step in declaring the HRI minor is to fill out an Intent to Declare HRI Minor form and to meet with an HRI Minor faculty adviser to get the form approved.

The department encourages students to meet with an HRI minor faculty adviser early in their academic careers. Advisers will help craft a plan of study, approve elective courses, and help students connect with the faculty members whose work best fits their academic interests.

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Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements and are noted officially on the transcript in the memoranda section, but they are not noted on diplomas.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
  2. A minimum of three of the upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
  4. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
  5. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
  6. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which you plan to graduate. If you cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, please see a College of Letters & Science adviser.
  7. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)


HISTORY C187The History and Practice of Human Rights4
Select one Social Science Elective (upper division) 1
Select one Humanities Elective (upper division) 1
Select one Free Elective (upper division) 1
“The Human Rights Interdisciplinary Minor Thesis Workshop"
UGIS 156Human Rights Interdisciplinary Minor Capstone Workshop (and thesis project)1,3

HRI Minor electives are posted on the minor website each semester and designated either Humanities or Social Science electives. The Free Elective can be chosen from either the listed Humanities or the listed Social Science electives. See the list of permanent HRI Minor electives below. If you have questions about potential electives, contact one of the minor's advisers.

Permanently Approved HRI Minor Electives 

The courses below may be counted in any semester they are offered. Each semester, the minor posts a list of those permanently approved electives being offered plus any additional courses that have been approved for that semester only. Students should refer to the online listings to determine past course approvals. 

Social Sciences
AFRICAM 125History of the Civil Rights Movement4
AFRICAM/RELIGST 173ACGandhi and the Civil Rights Movement in America3
ANTHRO 189ASpecial Topics in Cultural Anthropology/Area (Topics include: Poverty and Rights in the Asian-Pacific AND Poverty, Culture, and Rights)4
HISTORY C139C/AMERSTD 139ACCivil Rights and Social Movements in U.S. History4
ISF 100EThe Globalization of Rights, Values, and Laws in the 21st Century4
LEGALST 154Human Rights, Research & Practice4
PACS 126International Human Rights4
PACS 127Human Rights and Global Politics4
PACS 128ACHuman Rights and American Cultures4
POL SCI 123SSpecial Topics in International Relations (Gender and International Human Rights)4
POL SCI 124CEthics and Justice in International Affairs4
POL SCI 191Junior Seminar (Topics include: Transitional Justice; Bringing Human Rights Home; and Human Rights, Global Politics and International Law)4
ANTHRO 189Special Topics in Social/Cultural Anthropology (Mass Violence, Representation, and Justice)4
COM LIT 155The Modern Period (Literature and Human Rights)4
COM LIT 156Fiction and Culture of the Americas (Human Rights and Representation)4
EA LANG 101Catastrophe, Memory, and Narrative: Comparative Responses to Atrocity in the Twentieth Century4
LEGALST 190Seminar on Topics in Law and Society (Law, Rights and Minorities)1-4
RELIGST 190Topics in the Study of Religion (The Ethics of Rights, Gender, and Global Justice: East and West)4
SPANISH 135Studies in Hispanic Literature (Christianity and the Origins of International Law)3

Contact Information

Human Rights Interdisciplinary Minor

263 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-643-7691

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Codirector / Faculty Adviser

Daniel Sargent, PhD (Department of History)

2215 Dwinelle Hall

Codirector / Faculty Adviser

Kent Puckett, PhD (Department of English)

473 Wheeler Hall

Faculty Adviser

Thomas Laqueur, PhD (Department of History)

3123 Dwinelle Hall

Faculty Adviser

Helene Silverberg, JD, PhD (Department of Political Science and Law School)

788 Barrows Hall

Faculty Adviser

Alan Tansman, PhD (Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures)

3331 Dwinelle Hall

Executive Director

Lynsay Skiba, JD, PhD

Staff Academic Adviser

Patrick Civello, MS

263 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-643-7691

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