Help Us Create a Better World
Webster University’s Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies combines support for teaching, research, and service to promote global citizenship among its students, staff, and alumni. With the University’s international footprint, we’re advancing the study of human rights issues, as well as advocacy for the protection and promotion of fundamental rights.
Human Rights Campus
We believe in the idea of a “human rights campus” at Webster, which means that human rights education is not only for our majors and minors. Our focus on undergraduate research and programming makes us a vital human rights focal point in the Midwest. Our events bring leading scholars and practitioners to campus with the aim of engaging in human rights dialogue throughout our community.
Undergraduate students share their research at our Research Across Disciplines (RAD) conference and human rights research papers and book reviews are published in the online journal Righting Wrongs: A Journal of Human Rights. We also have our own chapter of Amnesty International, which engages in campus activism throughout the academic year, as well as a variety of hybrid study abroad experiences around the world. Webster students also collaborate with a variety of non-governmental organizations to advocate for human rights in a plethora of ways, in St. Louis and beyond.
Earn a Degree in Human Rights
Webster is among only a handful of universities offering a degree in human rights, and we also have options for earning a minor or certificate. Our interdisciplinary program is taught by Institute Fellows from across academic disciplines, including from the fields of anthropology, history, legal studies, philosophy, photography, political science/international relations, and sociology. Our majors earn credit for practical field experiences — such as volunteering with resettled refugees, advocating for victims of human trafficking, addressing inadequacies in the foster care system, and fighting for reforms in the criminal justice system. Students also gain foreign language skills and research methods training in our program, as well as extensive knowledge of human rights challenges and potential solutions. These experiences are made possible by faculty members who are deeply committed to human rights education and advocacy.
The international human rights program at Webster University seeks to encourage greater understanding of international human rights standards, problems, and solutions.
This 18-credit hour minor in human rights is well suited to students with a strong interest in human rights but who are majoring in another subject.
More demanding than the international human rights minor but less demanding than the international human rights major, this certificate is well suited to students with a strong interest in human rights but who are majoring in another subject. As a stand-alone certificate, it is also appropriate for those students with a strong interest in human rights who have completed a BA or BS at another institution but who are not currently considering graduate or professional school.
“My Webster degree has taught me how to foster my passion for helping others in a productive way to help children all over the world.”
BA in International Human Rights, ‘22
Peer-Reviewed Human Rights Academic Publication
As a student-centered university, we provide our learning community many opportunities to engage in the world around them. Our department publishes "Righting Wrongs: A Journal of Human Rights," a peer-reviewed academic journal. Contributors use this space to explore human rights issues, challenge current actions and frameworks, and engage in problem-solving to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems.
Human Rights Resources
Generally speaking, “human rights” refer to the rights that are spelled out in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as associated international treaties and covenants. According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, "Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.
Humanitarian studies, on the other hand, stem from international humanitarian law which addresses acceptable practices and actions during complex emergencies, particularly in armed conflict. Humanitarian studies thus involve issues dealing with the delivery of aid and assisting the victims of war, extreme poverty and natural disaster. Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.
To learn more, visit:
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (opens in new tab)
- The United Nations (opens in new tab)
- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (opens in new tab)
- U.S. Department of State (opens in new tab)
- Amnesty International USA report (PDF opens in new tab), Human Rights for Human Dignity: A Primer on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
- The International Committee of the Red Cross (opens in new tab)
- United Nations Peacekeeping (opens in new tab)
- World Health Organization (opens in new tab)
There are countless non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dedicated to human rights and humanitarian work. An excellent resource for locating these organizations — along with volunteer opportunities, internships and job openings — is the Idealist website. A few NGOs to get you started include:
- Amnesty International (opens in new tab)
- Amnesty International USA (opens in new tab)
- Human Rights Watch (opens in new tab)
- Human Rights First (opens in new tab)
- Oxfam International (opens in new tab)
- Women for Women International (opens in new tab)
- Save the Children (opens in new tab)
- World Vision (opens in new tab)
- ONE (opens in new tab)
Human Rights Internship Opportunities in the St. Louis Area (PDF)
Children and Youth Services
These organizations focus on families and children, offering services like counseling for children and parents, foster care placement and free health care.
- Annie Malone Children and Family Service Center (opens in new tab)
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (opens in new tab)
- BWorks (opens in new tab)
- Children's Home Society of Missouri (opens in new tab)
- Epworth Children and Family Services (opens in new tab)
- Family Resource Center (opens in new tab)
- Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Clubs (opens in new tab)
- Neighborhood Houses/Unleashing Potential (opens in new tab)
- University City Children's Center (opens in new tab)
These organizations work with community members to provide community resources and support services in a variety of areas, including education, housing and employment, to help them overcome social and economic difficulties.
- 100 Black Men (opens in new tab)
- Better Family Life (opens in new tab)
- Beyond Housing (opens in new tab)
- Catholic Charities-Archdiocese of St. Louis (opens in new tab)
- Employment Connection (opens in new tab)
- George Washington “Carver House” (opens in new tab)
- Hands On Disaster Response (opens in new tab)
- International Institute of St. Louis (opens in new tab)
- Provident (opens in new tab)
- Redevelopment Opportunities for Women (opens in new tab)
Some nonprofit organizations help persons with mental, developmental, intellectual and physical disabilities. They offer life skills training, community living services, recreational activities and more for handicapped children and adults.
- Autism Society of America-Gateway Chapter (opens in new tab)
- Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments (opens in new tab)
- Independence Center (opens in new tab)
- KEEN (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now) St. Louis (opens in new tab)
- Special Olympics Missouri (opens in new tab)
- SSM Rehabilitation Hospital (opens in new tab)
- St. Louis Arc (Association for Retarded Citizens) (opens in new tab)
- St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired (opens in new tab)
- UCP Easter Seals Heartland (opens in new tab)
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
These groups tend to provide emergency assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Typical services include 24-hour telephone help lines, walk-in clinics and safe houses. Other groups advocate for the rights of victims of sexual assault.
- ALIVE St. Louis (opens in new tab)
- Covenant House of Missouri (opens in new tab)
- Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (opens in new tab)
- RAVEN (Rape and Violence End Now) (opens in new tab)
- Safe Connections (opens in new tab)
- St. Louis Crisis Nursery (opens in new tab)
- St. Louis County Domestic and Family Violence Council (opens in new tab)
- Saint Martha's Hall (opens in new tab)
- The Women's Safe House (opens in new tab)
Educational nonprofit groups often tutor children, teach adults to read and write and teach English as a second language to immigrants.
- International Institute of St. Louis (opens in new tab)
- MATHCOUNTS (opens in new tab)
- Parkway Area Adult Education and Literacy (opens in new tab)
- Reach One Teach One (opens in new tab)
- Teach for America (opens in new tab)
Elder care volunteer opportunities include helping senior citizens perform everyday tasks, like driving to the doctor or fixing dinner. Some nonprofits in this category help take care of elderly people with long-term illnesses like Alzheimer's disease.
- Alzheimer's Association St. Louis (opens in new tab)
- American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) (opens in new tab)
- Cardinal Ritter Senior Services (opens in new tab)
- Meals on Wheels of St. Louis (opens in new tab)
- South Grand Senior Ministry (opens in new tab)
- St. Louis Area Agency on Aging (opens in new tab)
This category includes nonprofits focused on environmental issues and the outdoors.
- Forest ReLeaf (opens in new tab)
- Missouri Coalition for the Environment (opens in new tab)
- Missouri Sierra Club (opens in new tab)
- St. Louis Audubon Society (opens in new tab)
- The Green Center (opens in new tab)
- The Open Space Council (opens in new tab)
These nonprofit organizations help ex-felons transition from prison into society by offering structured housing, skills training, employment assistance, and educational opportunities.
- Center for Women in Transition (opens in new tab)
- Employment Connection (opens in new tab)
- Project COPE (opens in new tab)
Health-based nonprofit organizations often provide medical care to those who cannot otherwise afford it. Others help terminally ill patients and their families cope financially and emotionally with their illnesses. Organizations that help individuals with drug and alcohol addictions are also included in this list.
- American Liver Foundation-Missouri (opens in new tab)
- American Lung Association of St. Louis (opens in new tab)
- Doorways (opens in new tab)
- Epilepsy Foundation of the St. Louis Region (opens in new tab)
- Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri (opens in new tab)
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of St. Louis (opens in new tab)
- Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region (opens in new tab)
- Ronald McDonald House Charities of Metro St. Louis (opens in new tab)
- St. Louis Effort for Aids (EFA) (opens in new tab)
- United Cerebral Palsy of Greater St. Louis (opens in new tab)
Most nonprofit organizations that combat homelessness operate shelters where people sleep and eat. Sometimes, they also help the homeless find jobs and low-rent homes and offer financial assistance.
- Epworth-Youth Emergency Service (YES) (opens in new tab)
- Gateway Homeless Services (opens in new tab)
- Peter and Paul Community Services (opens in new tab)
- St. Louis Winter Outreach (opens in new tab)
- St. Patrick Center (opens in new tab)
These organizations donate food to hungry individuals and families.
- Centenary Church: The Bridge (opens in new tab)
- Food Outreach (opens in new tab)
- Operation Food Search (opens in new tab)
- St. Louis Area Foodbank (opens in new tab)
This category includes organizations with an international focus.
Legal advocacy nonprofits offer low-cost legal services to low-income residents. They often represent individuals in child custody, divorce and domestic violence cases. Some legal assistance groups specialize in helping children or the elderly.
- American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri (opens in new tab)
- Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) For Children-St. Louis County (opens in new tab)
- Crime Victim Advocacy Center (opens in new tab)
- Legal Advocates for Abused Women (opens in new tab)
- Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (opens in new tab)
These organizations provide any number of services to the poor, including those relating to health, education, housing and economic development, with the goal of creating healthy lifestyles and prosperous environments.
Many nonprofit organizations oversee a broad range of activities, or give financial assistance to numerous charitable organizations. A nonprofit job seeker can start at the umbrella organization and read about its nonprofit members. Better yet, some nonprofit umbrella organizations maintain their own job databases.
Many of Missouri's nonprofit opportunities are listed in national or statewide databases of volunteer positions. The following websites list numerous nonprofit organizations in St. Louis.
Browning Hall is located next to Pearson House off of Big Bend Boulevard at the northeast corner of the Webster Groves campus.
8274 Big Bend Blvd.
Webster Groves, MO 63119