Empowering Students to Create Change

Human rights and social justice originated as a minor under the previous department chair, Steve Lilley. It is within the department of Sociology and Criminal Justice in the College of Arts and Sciences. This minor was formed for students to best comprehend the study of human rights and the influences that go into establishing and upholding them.

“The minor’s purpose is to look at political, sociological, historical and criminal justice topics with a human rights mindset,” said junior Abby Lockwood, who is pursuing this minor.

Lockwood said it stems from the class, human rights and social justice. This class is required for the minor and educates students on current and past human rights issues using case studies and lectures.

“I did not know what to expect when I signed up for this course, I just needed it for a requirement I was fulfilling,” said sophomore Bente Bogues. “After completing this course, I have gained an abundance of insight on human rights and social justice issues. I think SHU would benefit from it being a campus-wide general requirement.”

On top of this course, there are other requirements a student pursuing the minor must take in order to fill up the 18 credits needed. At least two out of four of the following classes must be taken: Intro to Criminal Justice, Intro to Global Studies, American Government and Politics, and Sociological Imagination.

“I like the required course options as the concept of human rights and social justice is so broad, it makes it easier to expand on it in detail,” said Lockwood.

The other requirement is for a student to take three electives in two different disciplines from a list of courses. This list includes human cultural diversity, media and democracy, constitutional law, diversity and oppression, and many others.

“As a political science major and a social work minor, I have taken many of these courses,” said senior Ciara Monteverdi. “I can see why these courses are a vital contribution to a minor in human rights and social justice as they create an in-depth understanding of their respective areas and how they relate to human rights.”

“Overall, I really like this minor and the organization of it,” said freshman Annamarie Mirando. “I wish there were more specifically human rights classes, but I do love the flexibility of the program because it fits right into my Political Science major.”

There is also a capstone required for this minor, which is either a fieldwork project, lengthy research paper, or internship along with consultation from a faculty advisor. Students can choose to double up on an internship or independent study that would count towards their major as well.

“For me, the capstone experience has more to do with my major,” said Lockwood. “It works out perfectly because my fellowship that is focused on my political science major will count towards the requirements for this minor.”

The SHU website states that a student with this minor will learn to identify and comprehend major domestic and international declarations, treaties and covenants governing human rights, as well as mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing human rights standards.

“Although I am only in my second semester with this minor, I have already begun to grasp human rights in a new and more informed way,” said Mirando.

“Given everything going on right now involving human rights and social justice in current events, it is exciting to also be learning about the history of it all and truly understanding what is going on through the minor,” said Lockwood.

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