Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights offers a free-standing major in human rights as an interdisciplinary program of study. Students in the major are encouraged to write a senior thesis, which gives them the opportunity to develop specialized knowledge of a human rights issue and demonstrate their capacity to produce a work of original research. To better equip students with the necessary tools and methods, we intend to offer a senior seminar course that is dedicated to interdisciplinary human rights research methods. The course aims to give students a foundation in common research methods and approaches relevant to human rights, with additional attention paid to research design and selected primary source material. The knowledge and skills developed in this course will guide students in their thesis research, to be completed in the spring semester in a separate course.
We envisage the course will begin by addressing some foundation questions such as: ‘what is human rights research?’, ‘how do you carry out research in an interdisciplinary field?’, ‘what distinguishes academic research from applied research and advocacy’? The course will also cover various methods, including qualitative methods, such as interviewing and focus groups, archival research, participant observation, content analysis, online research; interpretive and non-empirical methods; and basic quantitative methodologies such as the use of indicators and surveys in the context of broader discussion on the power of numbers. The course will also discuss ethics in research, including the IRB process.
We are looking for candidates with a background in human rights who are trained in research methods in social sciences and are well-versed in applying these methods to human rights research.
Applicants should send the following, as a single document, with the subject heading “Human Rights Research Methods Course” to firstname.lastname@example.org. Application will be accepted on a rolling basis with priority given to applications received before April 12th.
- Letter of interest
- Teaching statement
- Sample course outline (this need not be a complete syllabus, but should give a general sense of how you would approach the course)
- Course evaluations (if available)
We look forward to receiving your application!