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Human Rights and Social Justice in Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin American Maya Woman - Webapge


Professor Stéphanie Panichelli-Batalla

Module Leader

Final year only
Term 1
8 x 1 hour lectures
9 x 1.5 hour seminars
Guest lectures

Not available to students outside of the School of Cross-Faculty Studies

Principal Aims

This module examines, in depth, the situation of human rights violations and social justice in the Latin American Region and in the Caribbean (Spanish-speaking countries). In this module the students will acquire the necessary tools required to gain an in-depth understanding of the concepts of human rights and social justice, with a specific focus on the links with the UN sustainable development agenda and SDGs.

We will examine these areas by responding to a set of questions around national and regional concerns:

- We start with answering necessary questions such as: What are human rights and what is social justice? When did the concept of human rights become a global concern and why? Has the concepts of human rights and social justice changed over time? Who is responsible for respecting the human rights of a specific group of people? What is the Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos?

- We then consider through case studies the human rights of specific groups of people and minorities that have been affected in the past 50 years and we analyse what has been put in place to bring back social justice to the people affected. We will look at these through the lens of the three pillars of global sustainable development, while also focusing on the role played by governance. In addition, we will also look at local cultures and analyse the often disregarded interaction between culture and Sustainable Development.

- Finally, we move to consider alternative interventions, using a multi-disciplinary approach which brings together various SDGs and the knowledge we acquire on other modules on the GSD degree.

Principal Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be expected to demonstrate:

• A deep and detailed understanding of the history and politics of specific regions of Latin America and the Caribbean (Spanish-speaking countries)

• A deep and detailed understanding of the concepts of Human Rights and Social Justice

• A thorough understanding of the history of human rights and the changes in understanding of the concept

• A critical approach to analysing human rights and other related social issues in contemporary Latin America and the Caribbean (Spanish-speaking countries)

• An understanding of the measures that have been put in place to address serious human rights/social justice related issues in the region

• A thorough understanding of the links between human rights and social justice and the UN sustainable development agenda

• An ability to generate original, well-researched and evidence-based suggestions to address one human rights/social justice related crisis in Latin America or the Caribbean (Spanish-speaking countries).

Employability Skills

Through this module, you will develop a number of different skills that are sought by employers which will support your professional development. We have highlighted this to enable you to identify and reflect on the skills you have acquired and apply them throughout your professional journey including during the recruitment processes whether this on an CV/application form or at an interview.

  • Time and workload management: Developed through the requirement to plan and prioritise multiple tasks to meet deadlines involving group activities, as well as individual assignments.
  • Teamwork: Working with peers on group tasks as well as group assignments to develop the understanding and importance of individual contribution, collaboration, promotion, and inclusion of diverse community members, synthesising of ideas, sharing knowledge and best practice to achieve an overall shared goal.
  • Written communication: The ability to write clear, concisely and adapt the style of writing to meet a specific target audience developed through the assessment involving writing an action plan for an NGO.
  • Oral communication: Developed through group tasks to facilitate discussion on different topics and using tact and diplomacy to critically analyse viewpoints through a persuasive argument as well as delivering a presentation to an audience.


The module will start with a general introduction on the concepts of Human Rights and Social Justice, and will then follow a combination of 1h Lectures and 2h Seminars to analyse scenarios from different parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. By providing the necessary context in the lecture and critically discuss a specific issue in the seminars, the students will gain an understanding of Human Rights violation and interventions put in place to regain social justice in Latin America and/or the Caribbean.

Week 1: Lecture: What are Human Rights? What is Social Justice? What do you need to know about Latin America in general to understand Human Rights and Social Justice in this region? Why is this specific region of interest to study Human Rights and Social Justice? What are the links with the SDGs?

Week 2: Case Study 1: Dictatorships in the Southern Cone: Argentina (1h Lecture and 1h30 Seminar)

Week 3: Case Study 2: Dictatorships in the Southern Cone (2): Chile (1h Lecture and 1h30 Seminar)

Week 4: Case Study 3: The persecution of homosexuals and intellectuals in Cuba under Castro’s revolution. The case of Reinaldo Arenas (1h Lecture and 1h30 Seminar)

Week 5: Case Study 4: The Liberation Theology: The case of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador. (1h Lecture + 1h30 Seminar)

Week 6: Case Study 5: The persecution of indigenous people: Guatemala and Bolivia (1h Lecture + 1h30 Seminar)

Week 7: Case Study 6: Gender Inequality: Feminicide in Latin America. The case of Honduras (1h Lecture + 1h30 Seminar)

Week 8: Case Study 9: XXIst century socialism: Hugo Chavez and his Bolivarian Missions in Venezuela (1h Lecture and 1h30 Seminar)

Week 9: Presentations (1h30) + Consultation hours to discuss research paper.

Week 10: Presentations (1h30) + Consultation hours to discuss research paper.


NGO Action Plan 40%

5 minutes Pitch Presentation to Donors/Investors 25%

Portfolio 25%

Participation, Attendance and Homework 10%

  Please note: Module availability and staffing may change year on year depending on availability and other operational factors. The School for Cross-faculty Studies makes no guarantee that any modules will be offered in a particular year, or that they will necessarily be taught by the staff listed on this page.