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SDG Academy

Human Rights, Human Wrongs: Challenging Poverty, Vulnerability and Social Exclusion

SDG Academy via edX


From women to children to indigenous peoples, the rights of marginalized groups the world over are violated daily. These injustices affect not just these groups, but also the stability of our world – and our collective future.

Join this massive open online course to learn about the establishment of human rights and their linkages to many other global issues in sustainable development. Using legal frameworks as the lens, the course explores the barriers that prevent rights from becoming reality in different societies.

This course is for:

  • Graduate students and advanced undergraduate students studying human rights, law, sustainable development, international relations, and related fields
  • Human rights practitioners working on the ground who want to improve the efficacy of intervention programs
  • Lawyers and policymakers interested in the context of existing and past human rights legislation and the current issues at play in revising legislation or adopting new legislation
  • Private-sector actors , such as those who work in corporate sustainability and responsibility, who are interested in labor rights, gender equality and more
  • Sustainable development practitioners who want to understand human rights in the context of a range of issues, such as forced migration


Module 1: Why Does the World Need Human Rights?

  • Human Rights and Why We Need Them
  • From Economic Growth to People-Centered Development
  • The “Rise of Rights” in Development
  • Creating Human Rights
  • Are Rights Enough?

Module 2: International Legal Frameworks, Institutions and Development

  • Underlying Concepts of International Law
  • United Nations Institutions
  • International Law and Standards
  • Regional Systems for Human Rights
  • Social Inclusion

Module 3: International Human Rights Frameworks

  • Special Rights for Some
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
  • International Rights Treaties
  • Limitations of Existing Standards

Module 4: Underlying Frameworks for Social Inclusion

  • Subject vs Object in Law
  • Equality of Opportunity
  • Affirmative Action
  • Autonomy as Protection
  • Lawand Combatting Inequality

Module 5: Contested Rights and the Co-option of the Rights Discourse

  • Hierarchy of Rights
  • Collective vs. Individual Rights
  • Co-option of Rights
  • Intellectual Property Rights

Module 6: Gendered Poverty and Inequality

  • Poverty and Wellbeing
  • Gender Inequality
  • Households as Sites of Inequality
  • Gendered Experience of Poverty
  • Attacking Gender Inequality Within Development

Module 7: Gendered Rights and Violence

  • Women’s Rights
  • Sexual and Reproductive Rights
  • Violence and Legal Frameworks
  • Gender in the UN Human Rights Framework
  • Root Causes and Lived Realities
  • Social Communication for Social Change

Module 8: Social Exclusion: Minorities and Indigenous Peoples

  • Minorities and Indigenous Peoples
  • Issues Facing Minorities and Indigenous Peoples
  • Social Exclusion by Continent
  • Overcoming Structural Inequalities
  • Combatting Social Exclusion

Module 9: Advocating for the Vulnerable

  • Vulnerability and “Natural” Disasters
  • Gendered Experiences of Disaster
  • Social Protection: Problematizing Conditional Cash Transfers
  • Culture v. Rights: The Case of Female Genital Mutilation
  • Equalizing the Encounter: Free Prior Informed Consent

Module 10: From Exclusion to Inclusion: Responding to Crisis and Conflict

  • Humanitarian Response to Crisis
  • “Do No Harm”: The Rise of “New Humanitarianism”
  • International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • Democratization and Political Participation: The Situation Room
  • Responding to Crisis: Mediating for Peace

Module 11: New Directions: Rights and the SDGs

  • Sustainable Development and Rights
  • A Vision of Rights for the Future
  • Pathways to Sustainable Development and Human Rights
  • Human Rights and the Economy
  • The SDGs and Beyond

Taught by

Joshua Castellino and Sarah Bradshaw


4.7 rating at edX based on 6 ratings

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