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Human Rights Courses

Fall 2024

Instructors: Eric Stover, Alexa Koenig


  • Wednesdays 10:00 a.m. – 12:40 p.m. (Law School Room 113)

This seminar introduces the concepts and practices underlying human rights and war crimes investigations, including online open-source investigations: investigations that use social media and other publicly accessible, internet-based sources to gather and verify evidence for advocacy and legal accountability. In addition to lectures and readings, the course will introduce students to investigations and research at Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center, which provides students with an opportunity to engage in real-world investigations with a number of organizations that are working to bring awareness to grave international crimes and other human rights abuses. Partners include legal investigators, investigative reporters, and human rights non-profit organizations. In the course, students will learn the fundamentals of conducting international investigations, including how to collect and authenticate documentary information – including digital evidence – of war crimes and human rights abuses.

Instructors: Eric Stover, Rohini Haar


  • Tuesdays & Thursdays 11:20 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. (Law School Room 113)

Public health students and law students are eligible for this course, which will explore how international human rights and humanitarian laws and norms interact with health, medicine, and ethics both in times of peace and conflict. The course will be grounded in the foundations of human rights and humanitarian law, public health and medical ethics, and then move to the practice of health and human rights: research, investigations, policy-making and advocacy. We will examine a wide range of topics including tensions between public health and civil liberties, documenting the health consequences of war crimes and human rights abuses; treating survivors of torture and sexual violence; investigating disappearances and crimes against humanity, protecting health workers in conflict, addressing the special concerns of children, trafficking survivors, and incarcerated people; the impact of crowd control weapons, labor rights and health, immigration, racial and gender disparities, and the role of new technologies such as DNA analysis and open source investigations. Guest speakers will bring their experience working on climate change, journalism, investigations, epidemiological research, war crimes investigations and legal advocacy and community engagement. Students will actively engage in discussions, and bring their own interests to presentations and a final research paper to develop their expertise. The course is offered through the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and School of Law.

Instructors: Alexa Koenig, David Barstow, Gisela Pérez de Acha


  • Seminar: Tuesdays from 3:35 p.m. – 5:25 p.m. (Human Rights Center, 2224 Piedmont Ave.)
  • Lab: Thursdays from 3:35 p.m. – 5:25 p.m. (Investigative Reporting Program, 2481 Hearst Ave.)

Law students and journalism students are eligible for this course. To apply, please reach out to Alexa Koenig at kalexakm@berkeley.edu for a link to the class application. The application will be due on April 15, 2024. Students will be informed if they have permission to enroll within 1–2 weeks of the deadline.


Students will use legal, reporting and digital research methods to investigate a series of human rights issues for real-world partners. The outputs will include a series of audio, written and/or visual pieces. The investigation and publishing material will be designed to bring broad attention to environmental destruction, human rights violations and/or other violations of international, regional and domestic law. Students will learn the following skills: beginning and intermediary digital research and investigation methods, including advanced Boolean searching, social media discovery and analysis, site domain and filetype searching, and deep web mining; verification techniques for digital materials (including photographs, videos, and printed documents); introductory geospatial and network analysis; traditional investigative methods, including interviewing and other offline investigative techniques; relevant ethical considerations; holistic security (including physical, digital and psychosocial risks and mitigating techniques); cross-disciplinary communication and collaboration; the collection and analysis of large datasets; how to work effectively in multidisciplinary teams; and relevant legal frameworks, including an introduction to human rights, humanitarian and international criminal law. Students will also learn the history of digital open source investigations, including their use in legal and journalism practice, and how such investigations are transforming the communication of facts in media and courts. Students will work with award-winning faculty and staff from Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center and faculty from Berkeley Journalism’s Investigative Reporting Program.

Instructor: Alexa Koenig


  • Wednesdays 2:00 p.m. – 4:59 p.m. (Social Sciences Building 110)

This seminar offers an introduction to the concept and practice of human rights research and investigations, with an emphasis on the collection and analysis of online open source information. In addition to lectures and readings, the course will engage students in the Human Rights Investigations Lab at Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center, an effort that supports the work of Amnesty International, the Syrian Archive, and a number of other organizations.