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7 Free Online Courses on Equality and Justice

Justice (Harvard, edX)

This course exposes students to both philosophical and public policy debates around the concept of justice. Readings include classical texts by Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill as well as contemporary court cases and political perspectives. Topics covered include human rights, affirmative action, income distribution, same-sex marriage, and the role of markets. By the end of this class, students will have a better understanding of the relationship between social justice and criminal justice and will be able to articulate and evaluate philosophical arguments.


  • 12 weeks,
  • 2-4 hours per week
  • Free, verified certificate available for $99
  • Subtitles are available in Chinese, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Revolutionary Ideas: Utility, Justice, Equality, Freedom (University of Pennsylvania, Coursera)

These revolutionary ideas (utility, justice, equality, and freedom) are the building blocks for many modern states and governments. This course explores the debates over the role and purpose of governments as they incorporate these sometimes-contradictory ideas. Readings include works by classical philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Mary Wollstonecraft, and John Stuart Mill as well as contemporary theorists and political writers including Frantz Fanon, Amy Gutmann, Friedrich Hayek, Robert Nozick, Martha Nussbaum, Ayn Rand, and John Rawls. The course is divided into five units (Introduction, Happiness and Welfare, Justice, Equality, and Freedom) and will provide students with the tools to understand and articulate their own political beliefs as well as better understand the beliefs of others.


  • Five weeks
  • 20 hours of videos and quizzes
  • Free, verified course certificate available for $49

Love as a Force for Social Justice (Stanford University, Coursera)

NGOs and other mission-driven organizations often talk about love as central to the work they do but rarely explain how exactly they are defining the concept. This course combines different theories and approaches to the concept of love as it directly relates to social justice work. Readings and theories draw from a variety of disciplines, including biological, psychological, religious, and social perspectives. This class is designed especially for those actively working in social justice fields to help them use love as a positive force for social change. Students will leave feeling personally empowered and better able to communicate how their personal beliefs inform the work they do.


  • 6 weeks
  • Free, verified course certificate available for $29

Environmental Justice (University of East Anglia, FutureLearn)

Justice also involves considering how humans relate to the world around them. This course provides an overview of the causes and effects of the world’s current leading environmental challenges and how they impact communities across the globe. While it’s open to all who are interested, a background in environmental studies and/or international development is useful. The class is led by instructors from the University of East Anglia’s interdisciplinary Global Environmental Justice Group and exposes students to scientific, public policy, and social justice approaches to topics including deforestation, biodiversity, and climate change. Using a series of films shot around the world, students will be able to hear directly from global environmental justice advocates on the challenges they face. By the end of the course, students will learn that working on environmental issues necessarily requires an attention to social justice and human rights.


  • 10 weeks
  • 4 hours per week
  • Free, verified course certificate available for $49

Climate Justice: Lessons from the Global South (UNESCO, FutureLearn)

This class is a second look at the relationship between the environment and issues of justice. It explores how human needs can and should be balanced with environmental needs in order to preserve the health of the planet for future generations. By focusing specifically on the Global South, this course shines a light on how those who have contributed the least to global warming are suffering the most from its negative effects. Designed by UNESCO’s World Commission for the Ethics of Science and Technology, this class weighs the moral dilemma of balancing human need and ecological integrity in terms of global climate policy.


  • 4 weeks
  • 2 hours per week
  • Free, verified course certificate available for $49

Justice, Mercy and Mass Incarceration (Vanderbilt University, Coursera)

This course takes a close-up look at a key public policy debate involving issues of justice: mass incarceration in the Unites States. Taking a moral, ethical, and public policy approach, this class explores the dramatic increase in incarceration rates, the disproportionate number of low-income adults who are behind bars, the debilitating consequences of a criminal record, and the way even victims of crime are poorly served by the current justice system. Taught by a professor of Vanderbilt’s Divinity School, this class explores alternatives to the current U.S. justice system and asks students to imagine ways to create a more just and equitable society.


  • 6 weeks
  • Free, verified course certificate available for $49

Economic Growth and Distributive Justice Part I -The Role of the State (Tel Aviv University, Coursera)

Part I: The Role of the State

Part II: Maximize Social Wellbeing

This two-part course considers the economic and social justice questions involved in how income inequality is correlated to economic growth. First, students begin by examining the role of the state in maximizing the well-being of its citizens. After covering themes of efficiency, equity, inequality, and poverty, students will explore real-life scenarios involving social welfare, climate change, taxation, and technology. The second part takes a closer look at taxation and how different tax structures can affect the social well-being of populations. In addition to readings, students are also able to watch video interviews with prominent lawyers and economists from institutions around the globe. These courses allow students to better understand how economic principles shape the world around them as well as critically analyze issues such as poverty, inequality, and wealth disparity.


  • 4 weeks (Part I), 5 weeks (Part II)
  • 1-3 hours per week
  • Free, verified course certificate available for $49 per course
  • Subtitles are available in Arabic

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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.