New College Human Rights Major 

Announcing a New Major in Human Rights at the University of Chicago

The Pozen Family Center for Human Rights is excited to announce the launch of a new College major in Human Rights.  This interdisciplinary major integrates the academic study of human rights from across the humanities, social sciences, and law with sustained experiential learning.  

Majors will have unprecedented opportunities to critically engage in human rights practice, taking their learning from the classroom into the field. All majors will undertake a human rights field work experience, allowing students to develop an individualized field research project or to partner with one of 100+ global and local human rights groups in the Pozen Center’s network.  Majors will also be eligible to apply for competitive funding to support their practice or research-based work.  

“This is an exciting opportunity for our students to explore the field of human rights,” said Mark Philip Bradley, Faculty Director of the Pozen Center, and the Bernadotte E. Schmitt Distinguished Service Professor of History.  “The major’s interdisciplinary approach and rigorous engagement with human rights practice will nicely position students to become future leaders in the human rights field.”

The human rights major is grounded in a set of required foundational courses that will offer students the critical tools necessary to begin their study of the field, including International Human Rights Law and Practice and a methods course that introduces human rights monitoring, analysis and documentation.  

The major will also provide students with two possible capstone experiences: one a more traditional BA thesis and the other a deep dive into the work of a local or international human rights NGO, government body or think tank in which students take on research and writing around a discrete project.

“The new major really is a unique opportunity for students interested in the field of human rights,” said Kathleen Cavanaugh, Executive Director of the Pozen Center.  “It allows students to better understand the promise and contestations of the human rights project. We are excited to see where majors will take the research and public engagement that emerges from this innovative partnership of theory and practice.” Professor Cavanaugh will teach the new gateway course on human rights law and practice for the major.  

Eligible students will be able to begin this program in the Fall of 2022. Students interested in pursuing a BA in Human Rights should contact Professor Ben Laurence at:  More information about the Human Rights major is available here.

The Pozen Family Center for Human Rights at the University of Chicago supports innovative, interdisciplinary teaching and research initiatives that critically explore the theory and practice of global human rights.