The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy serves as the hub of the Harvard Kennedy School’s research, teaching, and training in the human rights domain. The center embraces a dual mission: to educate students and the next generation of leaders from around the world in human rights policy and practice; and to convene and provide policy-relevant knowledge to international organizations, governments, policymakers, and businesses.

 

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Latest Publications

Are Rights and Religion Orthogonal?

Citation:

Richard Parker. 12/2/2020. “Are Rights and Religion Orthogonal?” Carr Center Discussion Paper Series, 2020-13. See full text.
Are Rights and Religion Orthogonal?

Abstract:

Talking about “rights” is to talk about a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy, our system of law, our ethics, and—perhaps most deeply—our identity.

One of the rights we Americans customarily consider ours is “our right to religious freedom,” which, as enshrined in the First Amendment, is not one but two important correlate rights– our individual right to worship (or not) as we please, and our collective right (and duty) to prohibit any sort of government favoritism toward (or disfavoring of) any organized religion.

In his paper, author Richard Parker weaves the history and evolution of religious freedom into the context of human rights.  

Read the full text. 

: Richard Parker | Dec 2 2020
: Talking about “rights” is to talk about a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy, our system of law, our ethics, and—perhaps most deeply—our identity.
Last updated on 12/02/2020

Civic Education

Citation:

John Shattuck and Mathias Risse. 11/30/2020. “Civic Education.” Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities in the United States, 2020-004. See full text.
Civic Education

Abstract:

A well-informed citizenry is essential in a democracy to preserve American values and make sound decisions in every area, from the school board meeting to the voting booth. Yet, arguably, in no other way have Americans fallen so short from what the Framers intended than in their understanding of and participation in democratic governance. A 2019 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania found that only 39 percent of respondents could name all three branches of government, and 22 percent could not name any. Voting rates average only 56 percent in presidential elections, and are as low as 40 percent in mid-terms, ranking the U.S. far below most other democracies in voting participation. In short, the American people are not well-informed about their own government, do not turn out to vote in high numbers, and do not engage significantly in politics and civics.

In addition to providing a set of policy recommendations, this issue of the Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities paper series outlines historical origins of civic education, the status of state and federal requirement, the dearth of federal funding, and the current political tensions within civic education. 

Read the full paper here.  

See all the issues of the Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities paper series here

: John Shattuck, Mathias Risse | Nov 30 2020
: A well-informed citizenry is essential in a democracy to preserve American values and make sound decisions in every area, from the school board meeting to the voting booth.
Last updated on 11/30/2020

How are Human Rights Universal

Citation:

Eric Blumenson. 11/24/2020. “How are Human Rights Universal.” Carr Center Discussion Paper Series, 2020-12. See full text.
How are Human Rights Universal

Abstract:

On the traditional view, human rights are universal because they belong to all human beings as such, solely in virtue of their humanity. In his paper, Blumenson explores the meaning of that claim and considers two reasons some people find it hard to accept. The first is the appeal of relativism. That appeal is all the greater now, when cultural diversity is more present than ever in one’s neighborhood, on television, and across the internet. It’s a short step from identifying differences in cultural values to identifying justice itself as culturally constructed. The second reason for doubt is also a response to the radically diverse ways of life in the world, but a simpler one: a belief that human rights universality is implausible. Even if there are moral universals, one might think them too few or too vague, and the settings of their operation too diverse, to generate anything as specific as human rights.

Read the full paper. 

: Eric Blumenson | Nov 24 2020
: Eric Blumenson describes the conditions, challenges, and skeptics of the notion of "universality" within the human rights domain.
Last updated on 11/24/2020
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Upcoming Events

2021 Nov 03

2021 Symposium on Intercultural Digital Ethics

Wed - Thu, Nov 3 to Nov 4, 9:00am - 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual Event (Registration Required)

Recent advances in the capability of digital information technologies—particularly due to advances in artificial intelligence—have invigorated the debate on the ethical issues surrounding their use. However, this debate has often been dominated by ‘Western’ ethical perspectives, values and interests, to the exclusion of broader ethical and socio-cultural perspectives. Against this backdrop, the 2021 Symposium on Intercultural Digital Ethics will bring together a range of cultural, social and structural perspectives on the ethical issues relating to digital information technologies, with...

Read more about 2021 Symposium on Intercultural Digital Ethics

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2021 Nov 04

Protests and Promises with Dr. Megan Ming Francis

4:00pm to 5:00pm

Location: 

Virtual Event (Registration Required)

Please join the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy for one of its signature series this fall, The Fierce Urgency of Now, drawing upon the famous quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., when he said, “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there "is" such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” The fall series will focus on the intersection of racial, economic, and social justice in the United States. Information on how to access the event can...

Read more about Protests and Promises with Dr. Megan Ming Francis

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2021 Nov 09

Towards Life 3.0 with Professor Jamal Greene

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual Event (Registration Required)

Towards Life 3.0: Ethics and Technology in the 21st Century is a talk series organized and facilitated by Dr. Mathias Risse, Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, and Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs, and Philosophy. Drawing inspiration from the title of Max Tegmark’s book, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, the series draws upon a range of scholars, technology leaders, and public interest technologists to address the ethical aspects of the long-term impact of artificial intelligence on society and...

Read more about Towards Life 3.0 with Professor Jamal Greene

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“The Carr Center is building a bridge between ideas on human rights and the practice on the ground. Right now we are at a critical juncture. The pace of technological change and the rise of authoritarian governments are both examples of serious challenges to the flourishing of individual rights. It’s crucial that Harvard and the Kennedy School continue to be a major influence in keeping human rights ideals alive. The Carr Center is a focal point for this important task.”

 

- Mathias Risse