Recently, social-justice organizations, particularly those with a racial-justice focus, have begun to work within a human rights frame. They regard human rights as a framework that challenges U.S. hegemony and that also provides an opportunity for U.S.-based social justice organizations to make transnational linkages with social-justice movements globally. This essay describes a course taught at the University of Michigan, “Human Rights and Social-Justice Organizing in the United States,” which focused on case studies of social-justice organizations in the United States that are utilizing a human rights framework to assess how the latter impacts organizing around disparate social-justice issues. Key themes covered in the class included the benefits and pitfalls of using human rights frameworks for social-justice organizing, the problematics of gender in human rights work, and the impact of human rights organizing in promoting transnational activism.

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