Social Justice and Human Rights


MA degree programs offered by the School of Public Policy convey knowledge on fair and efficient delivery of public goods, on protection of human rights and on inclusive governance in old and new democracies, all important values of open societies. These programs engage with debates about the distinction between fair and unfair treatment, protection of rights by means of policies and governance, legitimate and illegitimate inequalities among groups in society, and hierarchies of inequality. We are training our students to be able to understand and address forces that create unfair disparities among people and generate unjust distribution of material and non-material goods in business and labor market transactions, welfare assistance, education, political life, public spaces, and even in intimate relations of people, as well as protecting the rights of those vulnerable to such disparities. Recent decades have offered mixed results in introducing and institutionalizing policy innovations in tackling human rights violations and specifically inequalities that hinder economic progress, social peace, forward-looking identity choices and human aspirations. The recent economic crisis and its social and political consequences have also challenged policy and paradigms and interventions that target structures of inequalities and promote human rights.   

Knowledge offered

The track intends to train future professionals of governmental bodies, international organizations, research institutes and civil society organizations to analyze inequality regimes and debates, and claim, design and evaluate policy interventions in both enabling and more difficult political contexts.

The proposed track offers an introduction to a multidisciplinary literature that addresses policy debates, paradigms, and interventions around outstanding issues of inequality and social justice in different political, legal and policy environments. The track will help students explore how a variety of policy arenas encounter the problem of equality and social justice (e.g. fiscal policy, labor market regulations, welfare and family policy measures, education, human rights protection etc.), and also get insights in explicit equality and social inclusion driven policies conceived either as sector or problem based (e.g. inclusive education, regional development, work-life balance measures, international development etc.) or category based interventions (Roma inclusion, migration and gender equality, etc.). The track will also guide students through some key sub-fields of policy studies that have eminent connections with equality policy instruments and domains such as human rights regimes, public finance, welfare regimes, development paradigms, etc. and their engagement with inequality and social justice issues.

The track will also offer packages of specialized knowledge in distinctive equality issues in which faculty members of the track have expertise including for example human rights regimes, gender equality and migration policies, gender based violence, Roma inclusion policies in Europe, comparative welfare state research, labor market research, anti-poverty development, and regional inequalities.

Learning process and faculty resources

The track welcomes students who intend to develop an overview or a more thorough knowledge on equality and social justice issues. One-year MA students are obliged to take minimum 6 credits from courses offered within the track and write an MA thesis in a relevant topic. MPA students must accumulate 12 credits from the list of courses in the track to earn a specialization.

The students will be offered elective courses and regular and ad-hoc consultations with the faculty members of the track. Mentoring from track representatives will aid students in developing a course portfolio, choosing an MA thesis topic and a supervisor best qualified for the chosen topic, as well as a guided MA thesis research and writing process.

The track will offer altogether at least 8-10 courses per academic year, ideally at least 3 courses in the fall and the winter semesters, respectively. Courses will be selected from SPP’s offer and its cross-listed courses. A few university-wide courses (UWC) may be added to the list. Additionally, students’ attention could be drawn to elective courses of the departments of Political Sciences, International Relations, Legal Studies, Sociology and Social Anthropology, Gender Studies, Nationalism Studies, and Romani Studies wherein faculty members regularly cooperate with SPP and CPS faculty in co-teaching and co-supervising students. 

A wider circle of SPP faculty members will be engaged to supervise the enrolled MA students. The core research staff of the Center for Policy Studies, long standing members of the SPP faculty are ready to advise to students in planning their learning paths within the track (including mentoring and guiding search for thesis supervisors).

A course selection for the track in AY 2019-20 will be as follows:

Fall (all courses in Budapest)

Equality Policy in Comparative Perspective, Krizsan, Zentai, 2 credits
Ethics, Politics and Policy, Zala, 2 credits

Winter (Budapest courses)

The Law and Politics of Combating Violence against Women, Krizsan, Moschel, 3 credits

Winter (Vienna courses)

Human Rights, Roberts Lyer, 4 credits
Rural Development Policy, Cartwright, 2 credits

Spring (Budapest courses)

The Internet and Human Rights, Ashraf, 2 credits