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Human Rights & Social Justice

The Human Rights & Social Justice BDP introduces students to the interdisciplinary study and practice of human rights at home and around the world. Students in this BDP will learn about the forms of oppression, marginalization, and violence that concern human rights researchers and practitioners. Through coursework drawn from the humanities, social sciences, law, fine arts, and public policy, students will develop their knowledge of the issues and debates that dominate human rights and social justice scholarship today, including an understanding of the regional contexts within which contemporary human rights violations take place. At the same time, students in this BDP will learn about the historical, theoretical, and institutional underpinnings of international human rights advocacy and social justice movements, from the legacies of colonialism and imperialism to the international institutions that were formed in the wake of World War II. Finally, through the Connecting Experience component of the program, students will have the opportunity to complement their coursework with hands-on experience in an organization working on human rights and social justice concerns.

For a complete list of courses and requirements, view the Human Rights & Social Justice BDP curriculum sheet.

Students will work with their BDP advisor and the faculty panel to design an interdisciplinary strand that allows them to pursue their interests, and at the same time exposes them to multiple areas of concern for human rights researchers and practitioners.


With 18 credit hours of coursework and Connecting Experiences, students may earn a BDP certificate in Human Rights & Social Justice.

Courses counting toward a BDP in Human Rights & Social Justice may also satisfy core, major, and elective requirements in a student’s degree plan. With planning, the BDP should not add time to students’ UT careers, but instead helps students choose the courses they already have to take in an integrated way.

Foundation Courses [3 hours]

  • Human Rights History & Theory Course
  • Effective fall 2022, the Forum Seminar is no longer required for the Human Rights & Social Justice BDP. Please email the BDP office with any questions about this change.

Courses in a Strand [9 hours]

In designing their strand, all students must choose courses EITHER from more than one of the Topics categories OR from more than one of the Geographic categories:

Topics categories

  • Nationalism, Imperialism, and War
  • Social Groups and Social Justice
  • Theory, Policy, and Institutions

Geographic categories

  • Regionalism
  • US
  • Comparative

Connecting Experiences [6 hours]

BDP advisors assist students in finding meaningful connecting research and/or internship experiences related to Human Rights & Social Justice. All students must complete at least one internship in order to satisfy the Connecting Experience requirement. For examples of Connecting Experiences Human Rights & Social Justice students have completed in the past, read these Connecting Experience spotlights.

Integration Essay

Students write a three to four-page essay at the end of the BDP experience, drawing together the different pieces of the BDP.

Faculty Panel

An interdisciplinary faculty panel guides students in selecting courses and participating in connecting research and internship experiences, which students are encouraged to pursue through study abroad opportunities.

The Human Rights & Social Justice BDP is offered in collaboration with the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at UT Austin.