Religious & Phil. Communities & Human Rights
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleFTR-FIPPSB206
Credits (ECTS)5
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies; Opleiding Filosofie;
prof. dr. C.J.A. Sterkens
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. C.J.A. Sterkens
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
prof. dr. C.J.A. Sterkens
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2020
SEM1  (31/08/2020 to 24/01/2021)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesNo
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
 At the end of this course, you are able to:
  • distinguish and describe generations of human rights, and explain the context in which they were initially formulated;
  • differentiate between human rights in each generation, and explain the tensions between human rights;
  • explain the relationship between concepts of human rights, and the empirical measurements to observe levels of agreement;
  • explain the relevance of the economic, political, and societal context for human rights awareness;
  • explain and illustrate how human rights culture is induced or reduced by the convictions of normative communities and religious traditions;
  • interpret research output on human rights awareness, and evaluate them based on different quality criteria;
  • formulate research problems suitable for empirical research on human rights, and develop a related research design;
  • present, analyse, and evaluate human rights violations in a specific societal context.
At least equally important as the judicial inscription of human rights in legislation and regulation (i.e. the legality of human rights), is the extent to which people at large agree with these positivized human rights, and support them (i.e. the legitimacy of human rights). The extent of acceptance and support of human rights is not only defined by individual circumstances, but is also determined by the values and norms of the particular group(s) individuals belong to. The tension between legality and legitimacy contains one of the many paradoxes of democracy. People who are sovereign based on the universal idea of human rights can only realize their goals within a concrete economic, political, and socio-cultural framework of a particular community. Likewise is the legal order to protect human rights only realised within a limited and well-defined space. The legitimacy of human rights is therefore conditional for the legality of human rights, both for their genesis, and continuation.

This course discusses to what extent a human rights culture is present within different normative communities, and how a human rights culture is induced or reduced by the convictions of influential normative communities and religious traditions. This human rights culture does not only consist of sufficient knowledge of human rights, but also refers to the awareness of the full meaning of human rights, and their reach of interpretation and application. A distinction will be made between civil human rights that focus on the liberties and rights of individuals and particular groups, political and judicial rights that are shaped at the interplay of the individual and the collective, and socio-economic rights that refer to emancipatory goals of deprived individuals and groups. The legitimacy of human rights is explored through empirical studies that scrutinize the individual and contextual determinants of a positive human rights culture. Potential positive and negative predictors of human rights are religious practices, religious beliefs, visions of what constitutes human dignity, personal evaluations of state authorities, and personality types next to general personal characteristics.

Presumed foreknowledge

Test information
The examination is based on a paper. The paper proposals will be discussed during classes, and substantial written feedback is part of preparation.
This course is part of a three course module in the Philosophy, Politics and Society bachelor programme. Students can only be admitted if they also take the two associated courses during the same semester (retakes excluded). Students who are NOT enrolled in a bachelor, master, or exchange programme of the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious studies cannot register directly for PPS modules. Instead, they can apply for admission by sending an e-mail to Such applications must contain a separate document in which you (1) inform us about your current studies, (2) explain which module you want to take and why it is relevant to your studies, and (3) describe what you bring to the classroom. The document must be written in English.
Required materials
A reader will be available, containing (among others): Sterkens C. & Ziebertz H.-G. (2018). Political and judicial rights through the prism of religious beliefs (Religion and Human Rights 3). Cham: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-77353-7.

Instructional modes
Attendance MandatoryYes

Test weight1
Test typePaper
OpportunitiesBlock SEM1, Block SEM2