Academic Courses

The HRC supports the integration of human rights related experiential learning opportunities into courses. Previous opportunities have focused on advocacy around scholar’s academic freedom, in partnership with the Scholars at Risk Network (SAR). In the future, we aim to expend our opportunities to include various topics in human rights.  


PPGA 391A – Human Rights in a Globalized World: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Practical Applications

PPGA 391A: Human Rights in a Globalized World is a 3-credit undergraduate experiential learning course on the field of human rights work. This course is offered under the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs in collaboration with the UBC Human Rights Collective and the Office of Regional and International Community Engagement.


W2021 Courses with Advocacy on Academic Freedom 

POLI 464F: Problems in International Relations – SAR Advocacy Seminar 

  • Instructor: Professor Jenny Peterson 
  • In this seminar, students conducted human rights research, monitoring and advocacy on behalf of a partner organization, the Scholars at Risk Network.  This international NGO promotes academic freedom through the protection of and advocacy for scholars whose lives, liberty and well-being are at grave risk.  Students worked on several specific cases of imprisoned scholars from around the globe (see SAR Scholars in Prison Project). On top of developing professional skills related to international advocacy, media monitoring, communication and legal analysis, students also advanced their scholarly knowledge related to the topic of human rights, transnational advocacy, international law and academic freedom.  This work included a tracing of the growth of international human rights discourses, an examination of different actors involved in human rights protection and critical analysis of a range of policies and practices including the role of social media campaigns and celebrity involvement.

POLI 334: Comparative Democratization 

  • Instructor: Professor Lisa Sundstrom
  • In this course, students considered some controversies in defining democracy and how universalizable it is, as well as two competing schools of thought in explaining the emergence and stability of democratic regimes. They moved to examine specific factors influencing democratization: formal institutional design, civil society, informal institutions, economic crises, post-conflict environments, and international actors and pressures. They examined attempts by democracies to promote democracy elsewhere, and attempts by autocracies to undermine it.
  • As one option for their major assignment, groups of about 4 students conducted in-depth research and wrote a report for the Scholars at Risk Network. Students identified further cases/ incidents similar to those highlighted in SAR’s “Free to Think” global report, and linked developments on academic freedom to the democratization/ autocratization trends in those countries. Students collaborated with at least one other UBC course that was also working with SAR on the same country cases. The initial list of countries students focused on was: Belarus, China, Egypt, India, and Iran.

SOCI 361: Social Inequality 

  • Instructor: Dr. Neil Armitage
  • This course offered an in-depth exploration into the multiple ways that social inequality manifests itself and the consequences thereof on individuals, groups and society. It covered theories of social inequality relating to class, gender and race to build an intersectional framework. The course explored how social inequality manifests itself in the domains of education, work, family, health, etc. in Canada and other societies. Through discussing cases from different regional, national and international contexts, the course also critically explored comparative welfare and public policy ideologies and approaches to social inequality.
  • For SOCI 361, students produced deliverables in support of the current crisis in Afghanistan, where the take-over by the Taliban is a threat to the Academic Freedom of Afghan Scholars, with many having to flee the country, go into hiding, or give up their studies and research. The project specifically explored the threats to women and girls’ academic freedom and their right to education in Afghanistan. Students produced a media monitoring report for the Scholars at Risk Network with the latest news stories on threats to women and girls’ academic freedom in Afghanistan. Students also created an infographic and a magazine article based on their report.

To learn more about previous UBC courses that involved advocacy on academic freedom, check this link.