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7 Free Skills for the Human Rights Jobs of the Future

The human rights job landscape is changing rapidly. Current and future challenges in combating human rights violations require new skills and tactics. We have compiled a list of 7 free online courses and specializations that will equip you with the knowledge and skills for the human rights jobs of the future.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Machine learning and artificial intelligence create new opportunities and challenges for the protection of human rights. Artificial intelligence can help make education, health and economic systems more efficient but also bears the risk to amplify polarization, bias and discrimination against certain groups. To ensure that the algorithms of the future take human rights into the equation human rights advocates will need to know how machine learning and artificial intelligence works.

Register here: Machine Learning Specialization (University of Washington)

Empathy and emotional intelligence

Empathy and emotional intelligence are core values of human rights work. Whether you interview survivors of human rights violations in the field as a researcher or you work under high pressure in a fast-paced office environment, empathy and emotional intelligence aren’t just soft skills. They will make your work more efficient and help you and your team to deliver better results.

Register here: Inspiring Leadership Specialization (Case Western Reserve University)

Virtual Reality

The human rights campaigners or social media managers of the future may be virtual or augmented reality architects, creating entire worlds that enable supporters to dive into more immersive experiences evoking empathy and inspiring action in unprecedented ways. Virtual reality will enable a large amount of people to experience places that would otherwise be to dangerous to visit, which may lead to a new understanding of what survivors of human rights violations are experiencing.

Register here: Virtual Reality Specialization (University of London)

Climate change  

For good reasons more and more human rights organizations jump on the bandwagon to raise awareness for the critical impact of climate change on people and the environment. A domain that was previously reserved to environmental advocacy groups, today is at the heart of major human rights organizations. Climate change impacts all our human rights and the negative consequences are disproportionately borne by people and communities that are already in dire circumstances. No matter which issue or topic you will advocate for in the future, climate change will always intersect in some way.

Register here: Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries (University of Cape Town)


The United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund already use Blockchain and Cryptocurrency in various ways to advance the sustainable development goals. The UN uses Blockchain to enable free and fair elections, to alleviate poverty, to increase financial inclusion and to protect the environment. Blockchain is a gamechanger for human rights work and many think we haven’t yet uncovered the true potential of blockchain and cryptocurrency to change the world for the better. If you are interested in becoming a blockchain developer, consider these fully funded scholarships.

Register here: Blockchain Specialization (State University of New York)


Many human rights think tanks are convinced that cybersecurity is the new battleground for human rights. Digital and online threats can have severe and sometimes deadly consequences for the lives of human rights defenders. With widespread government surveillance and infringements on the rights to freedom of expression and the right to privacy on a global scale, knowledge and skills about cybersecurity will be one of the basic human rights skills of tomorrow.

Register here: Cybersecurity Specialization (University of Maryland)

Big data

Predictive policing and other forms of data-driven law enforcement raise major human rights concerns. The exploitation of big data may lead to violations of privacy rights and reinforce police bias that fosters discriminatory attitudes and behaviours. Understanding how big data works will be crucial in exposing human rights violations committed by authorities that utilize predictive policing.

Register here: Big Data Specialization (UC San Diego)

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Human Rights Careers

Human Rights Careers (HRC) provides information about online courses, jobs, paid internships, masters degrees, scholarships and other opportunities in the human rights sector and related areas.