Following the high demand and excellent feedback received for the sessions that were delivered in 2021, the teaching programme this year largely retains the sessions that were offered in 2021, covering a range of research methods and skills necessary for successful human rights practice and professional development. In addition to modules covering a diverse range of research methods, the curriculum includes sessions on advocacy, organisational management, coping strategies and practitioner case studies.
The sessions offered include the following:
Key Debates and Challenges in Human Rights Promotion
This session will provide an introductory overview of the key debates and developments around human rights promotion and how they affect the work of human rights defenders.
Operational Challenges and Opportunities: A Field Perspective
Drawing on decades of expertise of working on refugee-related issues, this session will provide practical perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of promoting human rights in one of the most pressing human rights concerns of our time.
Round Table on Professional Challenges: Participant Perspectives
This session is designed to facilitate self-reflective learning through a guided discussion to exchange experiences and expertise of participants, and to support networking amongst participants.
Research Design: Legal and Qualitative Single Case Study
The session will focus on how to carry out legal and qualitative single case studies, its effects and impact. Participants will be invited to consider the design and findings of a comparative (both country and thematic) funded research project. The purpose will be to prompt participants to suggest how a single case study could have been more illuminating and to identify what have been lost in a single case study. Attention will then shift to a single case study to assess the richness it can offer, and the selection justification it requires. The session will end with writing case-selection justification exercise and the evaluation of these justifications.
Use of Qualitative Data Methods
An essential session for human rights researchers, this seminar will cover different tasks related to qualitative data analysis: how to transcribe interviews; how to identify patterns in the data; and how to make sense of research material using discourse analysis.
Quantitative Methods: Statistics, Indicators and Human Rights
This session examines the use of socio-economic and administrative statistics, which involves using existing or creating new indicators for governmental activity that has a bearing on human rights, including input, process, output, outcome, and impact indicators. The United Nations has developed a framework for incorporating these kinds of measures into the work of treaty bodies, as well as other kinds of human rights project work.
Quantitative Methods: Databases, Survey-based and Standards-based Indicators
Some databases attempt to track human rights outcomes on the ground, while others seek to identify, classify, and quantify implementation of human rights obligations. This session will provide a review of existing human rights databases, explore the types of questions that databases can help us answer, and highlight critiques of the use of databases. It will also examine the use of ‘standards-based’ measures of human rights practices that code country performance on ordinal scales for comparative analysis and survey-based measures based on perceptions and experiences of human rights practices. For both types of measures, discussion will focus on sources of information, types of samples, external and internal validity, and the limitations of each style of measurement and assessment.
Experiments in Social Science Research
Experimental methods are a field of growing importance in the social sciences and policy/impact evaluation. Experiments enable social scientists and applied researchers to draw valid inferences about cause and effect. This session will provide an introduction to experimental methods. It will discuss different experimental methods including field, survey, and lab experiments using applications from the study of human rights.
Our expanded focus on human rights practice includes a session on litigation. It will examine strategic choices taken in seeking to enforce human rights and how challenges that arise in the use of litigation to protect human rights can be addressed.
International Advocacy: Multilateral and Transnational
Amidst rising challenges to human rights, the importance of acquiring expertise in human rights advocacy cannot be overstated. Participants will learn about different ways in which human rights advocacy can be advanced in a range of settings, covering the UN’s diverse human rights mechanisms as well as regional and country contexts.
Strategic Communications and Framing
The power of human rights advocacy greatly depends on strategic communications and framing. Campaigning and advocacy are stronger when they show awareness of the power of words, because power is constituted through accepted forms of knowledge and understandings of what’s true and what’s right. This session will focus on the importance of understanding not only what a target audience thinks, but also how they think. Human rights advocacy needs messages that stick and resonate with people’s minds, messages that meet them where they are. The seminar will look at what it is said, how it is said, and who says it: Who is speaking on behalf of human rights?
Campaigning and Theory of Change
While good research is essential, this seminar will explore what makes good research impactful. Combining Social Movement Theory with practical examples, this session will introduce the idea of Theory of Change as a key component of campaign development. It will discuss the timeliness of political opportunities, and how to recognise them as they unfold. The seminar will discuss the importance of assessing what can be reasonably achieved with existing mobilising structures. As words and cognitive cues can make a difference, participants will identify how framing processes can shape the outcome of a campaign.
Governance of Human Rights NGOs
This year we have also included sessions to cover skills related to management and organisational development. This session will highlight the strategies and practices of a range of human rights NGOs in the identification of priorities and in the allocation of their resources; and the potential for increasing effectiveness and efficiency.
Psychoanalysis of Groups and Organisations
This session will explore how a psychoanalytic approach can illuminate the dynamics of groups and organisations, including insights into how an individual positions themselves in groups and the group dynamics that affects that role.
Working in Repressive States
Human rights research is most needed where it is often the most challenging to undertake them. This session will cover the challenges and opportunities for undertaking human rights research in countries lacking in the rule of law. It will address working with sources for primary research, the interaction of the researcher with authorities; the balance between legal analysis and empirical findings; dealing with bias; and security during in country research.
Building Resilience for Human Rights Work
Human rights defenders are especially susceptible to burn-out. Field-wide problems, such as a pervasive lack of adequate funding and ever increasing workloads, often interact with individual circumstances such as personal trauma, poor coping mechanisms and a lack of healthy role models, to create a perfect storm of conditions that make the field of human rights advocacy one of the most difficult to work in. In addition, human rights defenders are often tasked with working with victims and gathering evidence of violations, which exposes them to the trauma of others and the risk of secondary or vicarious trauma themselves. Building resilience in the field of human rights advocacy requires several different approaches, from institutional reform to personal training. In this session, we will look at why resilience awareness and training are so important and what human rights organisations can do to make sure their employees have the right tools to protect themselves while working in these difficult conditions.
Working with HR Defenders
Human Rights Defenders are increasingly under pressure around the world. This session will examine the challenges faced by human rights defenders in different contexts and the various opportunities and strategies that can be used to overcome them. It will focus on specific work undertaken by international monitors committed to supporting human rights defenders.
Maximising Impact: Working with International Monitors
Continuing the engagement with international human rights protection mechanisms, this session will provide case studies on effective NGO engagement with the UN’s special procedures including research, networking and advocacy. Drawing on case studies on the UN Special Procedures system, the session will cover the experiences of both a country-specific mandate and a thematic mandate, and offer insights on maximising impact.