Advocacy seminar

Intensive Summer Training

Supervised Human Rights Engagement

Advocacy Seminar

Beginning this 2019-2020 academic year, faculty and supervisors associated with the University Network are teaching seminars on human rights advocacy at leading colleges. These seminars serve as a ‘gateway’ for involvement in the practical, supervised human rights work of the University Network. The seminars are modeled on the highly successful human rights advocacy seminar offered by Professor James Cavallaro in the IntroSems program at Stanford University.

Professor Cavallaro is currently teaching two such seminars, Human Rights Advocacy: Critical Assessment and Practical Engagement in Global Social Justice at Wesleyan University and The Development, Practice and Challenges Facing the Global Human Rights Movement at Amherst College.

Intensive Summer Training

Students at universities across the country, including those enrolled in the advocacy seminars offered over the academic year, will be invited to apply to participate in an intensive summer training program offered by the University Network. The summer course will include intensive study of rights advocacy (an advanced seminar on advocacy that will build on the seminars offered at leading colleges), complemented by substantive coursework in human rights and practical skills training.


Students will be trained in basic principles of legal analysis, as well as on substantive human rights law and norms. The goal of this course will be to provide non-law students (undergraduates) with the elements necessary to assess situations of injustice through a human rights lens.


Since 2011, the Stanford Human Rights Clinic has employed an intensive, three-day factfinding and advocacy simulation as a means of training clinical students to engage in human rights factfinding, documentation, and advocacy. The simulation requires students to act as human rights researchers in a remote setting. Some 40 actors play the roles of villagers, police, authorities, activists, witnesses, bystanders, and technical experts, among others. Student teams interview the actors, gather evidence, and reach conclusions about a series of events. Students prepare memoranda and, based on their conclusions, participate in mock advocacy exercises before international bodies and legislative committees, with print media, and on radio and television. The simulation has been extraordinarily successful in preparing law students for the practice of human rights. The simulation will be extended to undergraduates in the University Network’s summer training program.

Supervised Human Rights Engagement


Over the course of the academic year, students trained in the summer program will engage in supervised human rights factfinding, documentation, and advocacy. Students enrolled in academic year advocacy seminars at leading colleges will be invited to apply to assist with ongoing University Network human rights projects on an as-needed basis. Students will work on projects both remotely (desktop research) and in supervised sessions. These sessions may be divided as follows:


During winter and spring breaks, small groups of students (2-4) trained in the summer program will be able to travel to communities affected by rights abuse to engage in human rights documentation and advocacy. These trips will be similar to the kind undertaken by law students in human rights clinics.

Weekend working retreats

Students trained in the summer program will attend academic year sessions at the University Network center. During these sessions, students will work with the supervisory team of the University Network on the project(s) to which they are assigned. Prior to on-site documentation trips, students will collaborate closely with partner organizations and directly affected communities to develop fieldwork plans and complete background research. After trips, students will process information from interviews and other factfinding, develop advocacy products, and design advocacy strategies in conjunction with partner organizations and communities.

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Students in academic year advocacy seminars who apply and are selected to assist with University Network human rights projects will meet for working sessions at their home colleges under the direction of the instructors leading the seminars. These on-campus work sessions may occur once or twice per week, depending on the class schedule for the seminar. Supervisors/instructors from the University Network will travel to campus (for the advocacy seminar and) for working sessions.