Top 10 Social Justice & Human Rights Courses & Classes Online in 2022

by Doris Vanhouten

Social justice is based on the belief that everyone’s human rights should be respected and protected, and that all individuals should have equal rights and opportunities. That includes fairness in education, employment, workplace, healthcare, housing etc. Careers in social justice concern themselves with ensuring equity and access to information, services and resources to underrepresented groups, equality of opportunity and effective participation in decision making for all people.

If you wish to pursue a career in social work, social justice will likely be an integral part of your work. Social work and social justice are inseparable. You will need to be sensitive to the various societal and environmental factors that play a role in people’s struggles.

Top 10 Social Justice & Human Rights Courses & Classes Online in 2022

If you want to work to improve the conditions of the marginalized or make a change in the world, you can explore positions in human and civil rights such as peace organizations, legislative advocacy, indigenous rights, law and enforcement, non-profits, research institutes, etc.

1. Indigenous Canada by University of Alberta (Coursera)

Online Courses by University of AlbertaThis course offers a one of its kind unique online learning experience that emphasises indigenous perspectives and world views. The intention of this course is to tell the history of Canada’s First Nations people from an indigenous perspective. It is the most popular online course in Canada, and has been taken by over 450K learners worldwide. It has immensely helped participants understand the indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada.

The core vision of the course has been developed by the Faculty of Native Studies department at University of Alberta and is delivered by Assistant Professor Dr. Paul L. Gareau.

The course is delivered over 12 modules that investigate issues important for understanding the past and current relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous societies. Topics include the following:

  • Indigenous worldviews
  • Fur trade and other exchange relationships
  • Residential school system
  • Circumstances surrounding the treaties made with settlers
  • Indigenous resistance to assimilation
  • Indigenous political structures and the impacts of colonialism on them
  • Indigenous Women
  • Land claims and environmental impacts
  • Legal system, conflicts and rights
  • Political conflicts and alliances
  • Indigenous political activism
  • Indigenous art and culture
  • Present-day Indigenous movements such as Oka Crisis and Idle No More

These 12 weekly modules take approximately 2 hours each to work through. You can complete these at your own pace or simply follow the suggested setup and go week by week. The lessons are a combination of videos to watch and articles to read. There is also a quiz at the end of each lesson to help you evaluate your understanding of the same.

The course is for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of Canadian Indigenous culture, traditions, and history. Those who are living in Canada, or planning to move to Canada or set up business there, should also take this course.

Key Highlights

  • Understand the key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective
  • Learn about Indigenous concepts of gender, and the traditional roles and responsibilities
  • Learn about contemporary Indigenous life, art and its expressions
  • Explore the teaching and learning in Indigenous communities
  • Discuss the concepts of self-government, self-determination, and Indigenous resurgence
  • Suitable for anyone with interest in acquiring a basic familiarity with Indigenous/non-Indigenous relationships

Duration : Approx. 21 hours
Rating : 4.8


2. Inclusive Leadership: The Power of Workplace Diversity by University of Colorado (Coursera)

Online Courses by University of ColoradoWorkplace diversity has expanded beyond traditional demographics such as gender, race and ethnicity. Though these still and will always be important, the scope of workplace diversity now also includes nationality, religious background, age, sexual orientation, ability, experience and even diversity of thought. Leaders need to consider all these aspects of diversity among all stakeholders that they engage with including current and prospective employees, clients, customers etc. The intention of this Inclusive Leadership course by University of Colorado is to prepare learners to respond to these global changes that require new approaches to leadership. It has been designed for early to mid-career learners who are currently in leadership or managerial roles and anyone aspiring to be in such roles.

The course has been developed by Dr. Brenda J. Allen, Professor Emerita of organizational communication and former vice chancellor of diversity and inclusion at CU Denver, and author of the ground breaking book “Difference Matters”. She has over three decades of experience in teaching, training, research and consulting about diversity in the workplace.

In the course you will explore the principles and practices that can help you reap the benefits of increasingly diverse workplaces through inclusive leadership. You will be encouraged to develop inclusive cultures where everyone feels valued and respected. You will also learn to use processes of social influence to interact effectively with individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds. There are following 4 modules in the course:

  • Why Inclusion matters?
  • Why Inclusive leadership matters?
  • Six signature traits of highly inclusive leaders – Commitment, Courage, Cognizance of bias, Curiosity, Cultural Intelligence and Collaboration
  • Communication and Inclusive leadership

Additionally, there are four spotlights that focus on these special topics:

  • Workplace
  • Privilege
  • Implicit Bias
  • Power

Key Highlights

  • Equip and empower to respond successfully to changes in the global workplace
  • Deepen your understanding of the benefits of diversity and how to reap those benefits
  • Learn the signature traits of inclusive leaders
  • Covers traditional and timely topics from listening, feedback, and collaboration, to privilege, implicit bias, microaggressions, and micro-affirmations
  • Strengthen self-awareness and develop your communication skills

Duration : Approx. 21 hours
Rating : 4.9


3. International Women’s Health and Human Rights by Stanford University (Coursera)

Online Courses by Stanford UniversityThis is a free introductory course offered by prestigious Stanford University and is available on Coursera. It provides an overview of women’s health and human rights, beginning in infancy and childhood, then moving through adolescence, reproductive years and aging. The course discusses women issues in the light of economic, political, social and human rights factors, and talks about the challenges women face in maintaining health and managing their lives in the face of societal pressures and obstacles.

The course has been created by Anne Firth Murray, a prominent figure in the field of Women’s well-being and human rights and author of several leading books and research in this area.

The course is centred around four critical themes, namely those that may mean life or death for women depending on whether or not they can exercise their human rights. These are:

  1. Being born female which brings with it discrimination and demeaning
  2. Poverty
  3. Unequal access to various rights and services such as education, health, paid work and food
  4. Violence – gender based violence at home, in society and in situations of war and refugee status

The course examines women issues from the lens of human rights. It discusses following topics:

  • Son preference
  • Girls’ education
  • Health issues particularly related to childhood and adolescence such as female genital cutting, HIV/AIDS, early marriage and early childbirth
  • Reproductive and maternal health issues such as Unwanted Pregnancy, Contraception, and Abortion
  • Issues of violence against women such as domestic violence
  • Women in war and refugee circumstances
  • Globalization and its implication for women’s work
  • Sex-work and Sex-trafficking
  • Women and aging

Throughout the course, positive interventions that are being implemented to address these problems are highlighted, and participants are encouraged to share examples from their own experiences.

Each module offers a variety of resources including, videos, interviews with scholars and practitioners who work directly on these issues, along with additional readings.

Key Highlights

  • Learn about women’s health and human rights issues from infancy through old age
  • Access to global forums and numerous channels to engage with the class and interact with other students
  • Opportunity to participate in interactive discussions
  • Course is available for free. Learners can get a verified certificate at a small fee
  • Self-paced course that can be completed in your own time

Duration : Approx. 58 hours
Rating : 4.9


4. Global Diplomacy – Diplomacy in the Modern World by University of London (Coursera)

Online Courses by University of LondonThis course in Global Diplomacy is offered by SOAS University of London and is rooted in the University’s Masters Program in Global Diplomacy. It brings together cutting-edge research in the fields of Diplomatic and International Studies. It discusses the fundamentals, systems, nature and development of Global Diplomacy. It explores the historic and contemporary diplomatic procedures and practices and how changes to these relate to contemporary politics. It also addresses a range of relevant issues in diplomatic practice such as Gender, Human Rights and the role of International Organisations.

The course is organised as 5 weekly modules that cover the following topics:

  • What is Diplomacy?
  • What constitutes success and failure in Diplomacy?
  • Key characteristics of a good diplomat
  • Diplomacy in action
  • Reflections on Diplomacy

The course presents a lot of opportunity for peer interactions, with exercises related to real-world negotiation and a variety of peer assessments. By the end of the course, learners have had practice in communication and negotiation in a professional setting. They have gained a sound grounding in both theoretical and empirical approaches to diplomacy and are able to develop a set of skills to analyse diplomatic discourses.

Key Highlights

  • Gain a critical understanding of the nature and development of world diplomacy
  • Explore a range of diplomatic issues that are relevant in today’s world
  • Engage with practicing diplomats and their institutions
  • Learn about diplomacy as a profession and the qualities of a good diplomat
  • Engagement with peers through exercises and assessments for feedback and evaluation

Duration : Approx. 13 hours
Rating : 4.7


5. Social Norms, Social Change I by University of Pennsylvania (Coursera)

Online Courses by University of PennsylvaniaSocial norms are the unwritten rules we live by and they glue societies together. This course on Social norms has been developed jointly by University of Pennsylvania and UNICEF and is delivered by Dr. Cristina Bicchieri, Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics at Penn. In addition to teaching Philosophy, Psychology and Legal Studies, Dr. Bicchieri has been involved in a broad range of social projects and has been working on training UNICEF workers on how to best implement positive social changes in societies that are marred by discrimination, violence, poverty and poor health infrastructures.

The main focus of this course is understanding and measuring social norms and how they can be changed. It explores the nature of social norms, how they are grounded on social expectations, how fast or slowly our expectations may change and what would cause such a change. It looks at the social and cognitive drivers of norm dynamics and the tools we may use to effect social change.

The course content is spread across 4 modules that discuss the following topics:

  • Distinction between interdependent and independent behavior
  • Empirical expectations
  • Normative expectations and personal normative beliefs
  • Conditional preferences and social norms
  • Pluralistic ignorance and norm measurement

The course provides a globally immersive experience with each lecture accompanied by a variety of examples and interviews of UNICEF personnel who work on a variety of issues that often include social norms. When such norms are harmful, the course explores how to change them and when a norm is positive, how to support them.

Key Highlights

  • Learn why social norms exist, what they depend on and their dynamics
  • Understand how to diagnose social norms, and how to distinguish them from other social constructs, like customs or conventions
  • Understand what it means for a collective practice to be a social norm
  • Discuss examples of social norms that sustain behaviors like child marriage, gender violence and sanitation practices
  • Interviews with international UNICEF practitioners with a deep understanding of their respective fields

Duration : Approx. 13 hours
Rating : 4.6


6. Feminism and Social Justice by UC Santa Cruz (Coursera)

Online Courses by UC Santa CruzThis course on Feminism and Social Justice is offered on Coursera by University of California, Santa Cruz. It is an adaptation of a very popular and long-running course (for nearly a decade) taught on campus by Bettina Aptheker, Distinguished Professor Emerita at Feminist Studies Department of UC Santa Cruz. Apthekar has taught the country’s most influential feminist studies courses for more than three decades and has authored several popular books including The Morning Breaks: The Trial of Angela Davis and Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech and Became a Feminist Rebel.

In this course Apthekar presents a broad definition of feminism and critically examines three events that have become significant in the history of social justice in the United States from feminist perspectives – the Empire Zinc strike of 1951, the 1971-1972 trial of Angela Davis, and the #metoo Movement. She talks about how the participants in these movements organized and what positive changes may have come about as a result of their efforts. She uses storytelling as a main way for illustrating the interconnection between gender, race, class, and sexuality.

There are following 4 lectures in this course:

  • What is feminism? – Here she provides a definition for Social Justice and Feminism.
  • Salt of the Earth – Here she talks about the 1951 strike by zinc miners in southwestern New Mexico and how workers and their families worked together to finally win the strike.
  • Free Angela – Here she talks about the arrest of feminist scholar and activist Angela Davis and the extraordinary movement that grew in support of Davis.
  • The #metoo Movement – Here she discusses rape, sexual harassment, and political power in context of #Me Too movement.

Key Highlights

  • Gain new perspective on how feminism can be a driver of social change
  • Learn about the causes, conditions, and outcomes of the strike by Mexican American zinc miners in New Mexico in 1951
  • Learn about the Free Angela Davis movement (1969-1972) and how it became a huge international social justice effort
  • Learn about the causes and outcomes of the #metoo movement, and its contribution to feminism and social justice

Duration : Approx. 8 hours
Rating : 4.8


7. Gender and Sexuality: Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace by University of Pittsburgh (Coursera)

Online Courses by University of PittsburghThis course is offered by Coursera in partnership with University of Pittsburgh. It provides an overview of gender and sexuality issues in the workplace. Along with an introduction to the concepts of gender, sexuality, and women’s studies, and LGBTQIA identities, the course explores how our understanding of these concepts has changed over time and how these changes have impacted work and culture.

The course comprises of four weekly modules that are self-paced and include quizzes and readings in addition to video lessons. During the course of these modules, participants use a range of interdisciplinary concepts, tools, and methods to understand and analyze how identity shapes our experiences in culture and in the workplace. The topics covered are as follows:

  • Introduction to terms like gender, sexuality, LGBTQIA and the significance of these terms in a wider social and political context
  • History of gender in the U.S. workplace
  • Key theories of gender from the 1970s to the present
  • History of sexuality and sexual identity discrimination in the workplace
  • History of gender transgression across different cultural contexts
  • Challenges faced by transgender individuals in the workplace and the laws designed to protect their rights

Key Highlights

  • Learn key concepts to help interpret and understand the world we share
  • Discuss a range of critical issues that are directly related to gender and sexuality
  • Discuss common examples of gender and sex stereotyping and discrimination
  • Explore the issue of job insecurity for LGB folks
  • Learn about the advent of ENDA and controversies around ENDA

Duration : Approx. 16 hours
Rating : 4.7


8. Aboriginal Worldviews and Education by University of Toronto (Coursera)

Online Courses by University of TorontoThis course looks at the Aboriginal worldviews, how they were similar across the various diverse and distinct nations that were the original peoples of the Americas and how they have been changed through experiences with education systems that were not of their own making, such as residential schooling or boarding schools, treaties, provincial education etc.

The course is taught by Jean-Paul Restoule, an associate professor of Aboriginal Education in the Department of Leadership, Higher, and Adult Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. He is a member of northern Ontario’s Anishinaabek First Nation, and has taught about Aboriginal issues at a post-secondary level for more than 12 years.

With this course Restoule hopes that students will leave the course with an understanding of the value of Aboriginal perspectives for all people, as well as develop informed opinions on matters relating to Aboriginal peoples, develop understandings and respect for their histories, cultures, values, contemporary contexts, struggles, aspirations and realities.

The course content covers the following topics in 6 weekly modules:

  • Aboriginal worldviews
  • Aboriginal worldviews colliding with newcomers
  • Brief history of aboriginal education
  • Contemporary themes in aboriginal education
  • Aboriginal peoples, Canada & the way forward

This course is not only of interest to aboriginal people but also non-aboriginal because worldviews of indigenous people offer us pedagogical tools that we can use in classrooms, workplaces and as citizens.

Key Highlights

  • Explore cultural, spiritual and philosophical themes in aboriginal worldviews
  • Learn the reasons why aboriginal worldviews matter
  • Learn about the historical, social, and political issues in aboriginal education
  • Learn how aboriginal worldviews can inform professional programs and practices
  • Learners can set and maintain flexible timelines with self-paced learning

Duration : Approx. 14 hours
Rating : 4.8


9. Impact Measurement & Management for the SDGs by Duke University (Coursera)

Online Courses by Duke UniversityThis course is sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the global development network of the United Nations which created the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 to which 193 countries have signed up to achieve by 2030. The SDGs are the world’s blueprint to end extreme poverty, reduce inequality, and protect the planet. But since the governments alone cannot achieve these objectives, private sector, businesses and investors world over have stepped up to integrate these global goals into their business and investment goals.

This course has been produced by the award-winning team at CASE at Duke University, and developed in collaboration with the UNDP SDG Impact team and advisors from around the world. It consolidates several decades of work around impact management into a cutting-edge guide based on short videos and lessons with concrete practical examples.

The course explores how enterprises and investors can incorporate sustainability and social impact factors in management decisions by making changes in the strategy, management approach, transparency, and governance. It lays out following 4 universal steps of impact measurement and management into practical actions:

  • Set Strategy
  • Integrate
  • Optimize
  • Reinforce

The course modules thoroughly teach the steps to implement these actions across the investment value chain. By applying these strategies organizations are able to train their staff better, level-set their new hires, and increase their effectiveness at addressing the UN SDGs.

Key Highlights

  • Master the core concepts and practices in impact management for the SDGs
  • Improve decision-making for impact on the SDGs
  • Help organizations align with responsible business principles and best practices in impact management
  • Understand the material issues most relevant to your stakeholders and define your target SDG outcomes
  • Learn how to put into place the resources, tools, and processes that will allow you to measure your SDG impact

Duration : Approx. 9 hours
Rating : 4.9


10. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace by ESSEC Business School (Coursera)

Online Courses by ESSEC Business SchoolResearch shows that Diversity and Inclusion can be a source of innovation and performance. This course offered by ESSEC Business School in France focuses on how businesses and firms can capitalize on diversity to achieve these outcomes of better innovation, better company culture, and improved leadership. It is lead by Junko Takagi, teaching professor at ESSEC.

The course provides an introduction to the concepts of diversity, and their relevance in the workplace. Students gain an understanding of the paradox and dynamics of discrimination in the workplace, as well as how they can be overcome. The course is spread across 4 modules that cover the following topics:

  • Why diversity and inclusion are important for firms
  • Historical development of diversity and inclusion in firms
  • Categorization and diversity perceptions
  • Diversity processes that we encounter in organizations
  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives being implemented around the world

The course is free to enrol in. You can also purchase a verified certificate of completion after passing all quizzes and assignments.

Key Highlights

  • Get introduced to key diversity-related concepts and issues
  • Understand how cognitive processes such as social categorization impact what we see and how we react to our social environment
  • Grasp the challenges of implementing inclusion in the workplace
  • Learn how diversity can facilitate improved performance and innovation
  • Identify diversity and inclusion best practices, and become more aware of the different inclusion initiatives in your professional environment

Duration : Approx. 9 hours
Rating : 4.7

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