Requirements for the Human Rights & Social Justice Major

A. Introduction to the Major

Anchored in the Religion Department, this major involves faculty from multiple disciplines and departments (anthropology, African American studies, communications & media, criminology, economics, English, entrepreneurship, fine arts, geography, history, international affairs, modern languages, philosophy, political science, social work, sociology, theater, women’s studies, etc.). It offers FSU undergraduates an educational experience that will prepare them to work in a number of arenas related to human rights and social justice.

The study of human rights and social justice has a long history at Florida State University. The central hub since 2000 has been the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights (CAHR, Created by funds from an anonymous donor, CAHR has facilitated the development of human rights-related courses at the university for twenty years. It has also established field placements for FSU students in human rights organizations and supported the work of NGOs that engage in human rights advocacy and prevention across the world.

The Religion Department, in turn, established in 1967, is one of the oldest at a public university in the United States. Several of its faculty members, across the department’s five decades of existence, have made human rights and social justice central concerns in their research and teaching.

B. Program of Studies

You will need 30 credits to complete the Human Rights and Social Justice major. These will include four core courses and six electives, for which you must propose a provisional plan of study by the end of your second semester in the major.

Core Courses

The major’s four core courses (12 credits) come from the Departments of Religion and Philosophy; see section C below for current updates

  1. “International Human Rights and State Crime” (CCJ 4938) 
  2. (a) “Foundations of Human Rights” (human rights from a religious studies perspective) 


(b) “Philosophy of Human Rights” (PHM 3351) (philosophical approaches to human rights) 

  1. “Who Is Human? What Are Rights?” (REL 3171r) (anthropological, ethnographic, and historical approaches to human rights) 
  2. One course in the Religion Department among those that meet the “Issues and Approaches” requirement for the religion major. These courses cover comparative, ethical, literary, and/or philosophical themes in religious studies. See Appendix A.

Six elective courses (18 credits) will come from other departments at FSU. Two (6 credits) may overlap with another major the student is pursuing if those courses are also among those approved for the human rights and social justice major. These six courses may include the following; see section C below for current updates:

  1. One 3 credit Directed Individual Studies (DIS) course with an affiliated FSU faculty member
  2. Up to three credits of Directed Individual Studies (DIS) for an Honors in the Major Thesis in Human Right and Social Justice. 
  3. Courses currently taught at FSU that include a human rights framework or a significant rights-based dimension. These may include any of the courses in Appendix B.
Student Plan of Study

Each student must propose a provisional plan of study, comprised primarily of a list of eligible courses, by the end of their second semester in the major based on the major requirements as listed above and with reference to the lists of approved courses in the appendices. The undergraduate advisor(s) for the major must approve the plan, understanding that it may change along with department course schedules.

C. Current and Upcoming Core & Elective Courses 

  1. Core courses for the HRSJ major in the fall 2024: 
    • REL 3171-01 "Who Is Human? What Are Rights?" – Hellweg
    • CCJ 4938-02 "International Human Rights and State Crime" – Coonan  
    • Any available "Issues and Approaches" courses under the religion major:
      • REL 3112, 3142, 3145, 3152, 3160, 3170, 3171r, 3180, 3194, 3345, 3431, 3484
      • IDS 3197, 3392, 3671; IDH 2611, 2140; PHI 3700
  2. Core courses projected for spring 2025:
    • REL 3171 "Foundations of Human Rights"
    • PHM 3351 "Philosophy of Human Rights"
    • Any available "Issues and Approaches" courses under the religion major:
      • REL 3112, 3142, 3145, 3152, 3160, 3170, 3171r, 3180, 3194, 3345, 3431, 3484
      • IDS 3197, 3392, 3671; IDH 2611, 2140; PHI 3700
  3. Elective courses taught by Mark Schlakman in summer 2024 and fall 2024:
    • Summer 2024: POS 3931-01 and -02 “Where Do Human Rights Begin?”
    • Summer 2024: POS 3931-03 and -04 “Refugees, Asylees & Migrants
    • Fall 2024: POS 3931-05 and -06 “Refugees, Asylees & Migrants” 
    • Fall 2024: POS 3931-07 and -08 “Human Rights Post-9/11” 

D. Advising for the Major

Please contact Prof. Joseph Hellweg if you have any questions or if you would like to declare the major. He will be happy to communicate by email, in person, or via Zoom.

Appendix A: Courses that Meet the Issues and Approaches Requirement for the Religion Major
  • REL 3112 Religion and 20th Century Fantasy Literature

  • REL 3142 Religion, Self, and Society

  • REL 3145 Gender and Religion

  • REL 3152 Religion, Race, and Ethnicity

  • REL 3160 Religion and Science

  • REL 3170 Religious Ethics and Moral Problems

  • REL 3171 Topics in Ethics

  • REL 3180 Religion and Bioethics

  • REL 3194 The Holocaust

  • REL 3345 Chan/Zen Buddhism

  • REL 3431 Critics of Religion

  • REL3484 New Religious Movements

  • IDH 2611 Race and Religion in America Today: The Legacies of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements

  • IDS 2679 Need and Greed

  • IDS 3197 Responses to the Holocaust

  • IDS 3392 Just Torture

  • IDS 3671 Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fate, and the Problem of Evil

Appendix B: Elective Courses for the Human Rights and Social Justice Major
  • African American Studies
    • AMH 1091 African American Experience in the United States
    • AMH 2097 Nationality, Race, and Ethnicity in America
    • AMH 684 Women and Children in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Anthropology
    • ANT 2470 The Anthropology of Globalization
    • ANT 4277 Human Conflict: Theory and Resolution
  • Communications
    • COM 3420 Media, Culture, and the Environment
    • IDS 2452 Documentary Film: History, Theory, and Practice
    • RTV 4291 Advocacy Video Theory and Practice
    • RTV 4332 Documentary Video Production
  • Criminology
    • CCJ 3666 Victimology
    • CCJ 3677 Crimes Against Humanity
    • CCJ 4062 Hate and Bias Crime
    • CCJ 4667 Crime Victimization and Victim Services
    • CCJ 4938 International Human Rights and State Crime
    • CJL 4064 Individual Rights and the Criminal Justice System
    • CCJ 4663 Women, Crime, and Justice
  • Economics
    • ECO 3130 Free to Choose
    • ECO 3131 Market Ethics
    • ECO 4132 Economics of Compassion
    • ECO 4013 Economics of Development
  • Educational Leadership and Policy
    • EDF 2082 Introduction to International Development in Education
    • LDR 2213 Leadership for Social Justice
    • LDR 2231 Global Leadership
    • LDR 2290 Leadership and Sustainability in Action
    • LDR 3215 Leadership and Change
  • English
    • IDS 2375 Third World Cinema
    • LIT 4205 Literature of Human Rights
  • Entrepreneurship
    • CTE 4470 Sustainability and Human Rights in the Business World
    • ENT 3513 Market Solutions to Social Problems
  • Film
    • FIL 4930 International Human Rights and Film
  • Geography
    • GEA 1000 World Geography
    • GEO 4357 Environmental Conflict and Economic Development
    • GEO 4404 Black Geographies
    • GEO 4412 Environment and Gender
    • GEO 450 Globalization
    • IDS 2227 Sustainable Society
  • History
    • HIS 3205 LGBTQ History
    • IDS 2413 Fight the Power: Protesting With Song in America
    • IDS 3415 Guns, Drugs, and Slaves: The History of Trafficking in the Modern World
    • AMH 4530 U.S. Immigration History
    • EUH 4241 The Holocaust in Historical Perspective
  • Humanities
    • HUM 3218 Humanism and the Humanities
    • IDH 2403 Feminist Perspectives on Globalization
  • International Affairs
    • IDS 2431 Thinking Beyond Ourselves: Global Perspectives
  • Modern Languages
    • IDS 3188 German Society Though Film: The Legacy of Nazi Crimes Against Humanity
  • Music
    • IDS 2461 Music and International Human Rights
  • Philosophy
    • IDS 2456 Who Is Human? Culture, Gender, and Human Rights
    • PHI 2635 Bioethics
    • PHM 2121 Philosophy of Race, Class, and Gender
    • PHM 2300 Introduction to Political Philosophy
    • PHM 3351 Philosophy of Human Rights
  • Political Science
    • POS 4070 Race, Ethnicity, and Politics
    • POS 4624 The Supreme Court, Civil Liberties, and Civil Rights
    • CPO 3055 Authoritarian Regimes
    • CPO 4504 Institutional Approaches to Democracies and Dictatorships
    • INR 2002 Introduction to International Relations
    • INR 4075 International Human Rights
    • INR 4078 Confronting Human Rights Violations
    • IDS 2432 Political Participation in the 21st Century: From Indigenous Communities to On-line Democracy
  • Religion
    • IDS 3197 Responses to the Holocaust
    • IDS 3392 Just Torture
    • REL 3145 Gender and Religion
    • REL 3152 Religion, Race, and Ethnicity
    • REL 3170 Religious Ethics and Moral Problems
    • REL 3171 Topics in Ethics (topics vary)
    • REL 3194 The Holocaust
    • REL 4190 Seminar in Religion and Culture (topics vary)
    • REL 4491 Seminar in Religious Thought (topics vary)
  • Social Work
    • SOW 3933 Seminar in Global Social Work Ethics
    • SOW 4108 Women’s Issues and Social Work
    • SOW 4232 Homelessness in America: People, Programs, and Policies
    • SOW 4620 Diversity and Social Justice
    • SOW 4665 Theory and Practice of Social Work in Criminal Justice Settings
    • SOW 4784 International Social Work and Social Welfare
    • SOW 4940 International Community Engagement
  • Sociology
    • SYP 3350 Collective Action and Social Movements
    • SYD 3734 Culture and Society
    • SYD 4700 Race and Minority Relations
    • SYP 3454 The Global Justice Movement
    • SYO Social Classes and Inequality
    • IDS 2339The Boundaries Between Us: Exploring Racial Inequality in the U.S.
  • Theater
    • THE 4064 Disability and Representation
    • THE 4433 Gender, Race, and Performance
  • Urban and Regional Planning
    • URP 4402 Sustainable Development Planning in the Americas