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Human Rights in Germany: Gender, Racism and Social Justice

The monitoring and protection of human rights is a major challenge for the international community. The course introduces the philosophical foundations of human rights as a concept. It addresses the content of human rights as well as different methods developed at international level to protect them.

Course periodJan. 7, 2019 - Jan. 25, 2019
Category Religion, Ethics & Law
Course levelsBachelor
Class size

up to 18 participants

Credits and certificate

Participants will receive 5 ECTS credit points and a certificate if they attend classes regularly (at least 80% attendance) and participate actively. Additionally, six weeks after the end of the course a Transcript of Records is issued by Humboldt-Universität.

Application deadline Nov. 15, 2018, or when participant quota is reached
Course fee680.00 Euro | (excl. program fee and discounts)


Can human rights be universal? What exclusions and injustices are inherent in law that treats everyone “equal” in unequal societies? How is it that some human rights have been finally recognized, whereas others are continuously dismissed? Which actors are involved and why? What role do power and knowledge play? Who ‘wrote’ ‘the’ history of human rights? Who was excluded from this process?

Departing from an interdisciplinary perspective the Winter School will give an insight into Critical Human Rights Discourse and Litigation in Germany. On the basis of concrete human rights cases students will learn about the different bodies and instruments of human rights protection in Germany, their practical advantages, challenges and inherent exclusions.

By focusing on specific sectors (Gender, Racism and Social Equality) and their intersectional effects students are taught to see the canon of rights protected within the legal system as constructed and thus embedded in social and political processes of deliberations on different levels. With the understanding that strategic human rights litigation is only one of the many tools used to forward social change and justice, we talk about how these legal strategies and instruments can and should be intertwined with grassroots political awareness campaigns, the creation of associations to strengthen visibility, investments in public relations and advocacy for change and justice within social movements. Studies concerning the impact of Strategic Public Litigation will be used in the discussion, potentially with representatives from NGOs involved in some of the relevant Public Interest Litigations.

Representative fundamental texts of critical legal theory will be read, discussed and applied to the German context. These are interactive courses that have participants practicing the shifts of perspective proposed by the authors of the texts as acts of resistance to the premises of objectivity, neutrality, reasonableness and universality of contemporary hegemonic law. The courses will be team taught and aim to create a platform for dialogue on equal terms. Class sessions will usually open with lecture and/or discussant presentation, case-oriented inquiry, theoretical exploration and class discussion of the topic/theme for the session.

Students will be able to communicate directly with Berlin NGO’s activists and state agencies in the field of human rights and anti-discrimination.


preliminary course program (PDF)

Course structure

Academic lessons

  • You will receive a total of 45 hours (one lesson equals 45 minutes; 15 hours per week).
  • Lessons will comprise lectures, group work, discussion sessions, excursions


Schedule (Track B)

Monday: 1.30 pm – 3 pm & 3.20 pm – 4.50 pm

Tuesday & Wednesday: 9.00 am – 10.30 am & 11.00 am – 12.30 pm

Friday: 1.30 pm – 3 pm & 3.20 pm – 4.05 pm


Cultural extra-curricular activities:

HUWISU offers a fine selection of interesting extra-curricular activities and aims to give all participants an unforgettable stay in Berlin. Your program includes excursions, sport activities and social gatherings providing you the opportunity to get to know the city, the university and your classmates better and to meet students from all parts of the world.

The costs for these offers are included in the course fees.

Activities and tours we offer regularly: Federal Chancellery, German Parliament, House of Representatives, Topography of Terror, Political Archive, Museum Island, Kreuzberg Tour, Daytrip to Potsdam, Ice Skating, Exhibitions, Farewell Party…

Language skills English: B2
Motivation Letter about one page in English
Student Profile

Undergraduate students with an academic background in law, religious studies, cultural studies, social sciences, European studies and students with a strong interest in the topic.

This course is taught in English, including readings in English. For the understanding of the texts and the discussions in class a language level B2 (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) is required.

Participating students need to be at least 18 years old.

Karina Theurer works currently as a coordinator and teacher of the Humboldt Law Clinic Human Rights and as a Research Fellow at the Chair of Public Law and Gender Studies at the Law Faculty of Humboldt Universität. She studied Law at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität in Heidelberg, the Université Robert Schuman in Strasbourg und the Humboldt Universität (First State Exam 2008, Graduate Prize for Academic Achievement in European and International Law at Humboldt Universität) and the Masters Program "Interdisciplinary Latin American Studies" at the Latin American Institute of the Freie Universität Berlin with the Master thesis on decolonial critique on transitional justice premises and processes through literary texts. Since 2010 she is a Ph.D. candidate in law, focusing on the (Re-)Construction of Gender in Germany through human rights litigation.

Doris Liebscher is a lawyer with a focus on anti-discrimination law, feminist jurisprudence and racism and law. She studied law at the University of Leipzig and specialized in Law of European Integration at the University of Leipzig and the Univercity Complutense de Madrid. She is a co-founder and board director of one of Germany's first Anti-Discrimination NGOs in Leipzig. Currently she works as a coordinator and teacher of the Humboldt Law Clinic Human Rights at the Department of Public Law and Gender Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and is a partner at the Office of Legal Affairs and Science Berlin. She is furthermore involved in a project at the German Institute for Human Rights, where she develops a training for judges and public prosecutures, who deal with cases of racist violence and racist hate speech.

She writes her dissertation on the topic of "Race and Ethnicity as Categories in German Antidiscrimination Law".

Katharina Bager coordinates and teaches at the Humboldt Law Clinic Human Rights. She studied Law at the University of Leipzig and the Humboldt-University in Berlin. Her fields of specialisation include Gender and the Law, anti-discrimination law, human rights and legal sociology.

CoordinatorPierre Steuer/ Carmen Opolski/ Sanja Müssig
Contact detailsInternational Office
Unter den Linden 6
10999 Berlin


This course can be combined with: