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Understanding human rights data and how (not) to use them


Dozent/inJanika Spannagel
RaumIhnestr. 22/ UG Seminarraum 3

Di. 10:00 - 12:00 Uhr



Links auf Kursbeschreibung

Quantified data has become ubiquitous in human rights advocacy and research on topics as diverse as press freedom, political imprisonment, human rights defenders, academic freedom, or poverty. While human rights advocates use such data typically to call our attention to large-scale human rights violations, political scientists often draw on human rights and democracy data to understand and compare trends of repression or to explain other issues with levels of human rights abuse. But how useful and reliable are these sources really? In this seminar, we will examine different kinds of large-n datasets that quantify human rights abuse and similar topics to explore how they are generated, what they can and cannot tell us about the subject at hand, and how they should be appropriately used and presented. The course will include practical exercises to demonstrate how human rights information is coded into data and we will apply the acquired knowledge about data generation and limitations to critically review human rights reports and scientific papers. The objective of this course is twofold: (1) to acquaint students with different types and major sources of data in the human rights field and (2) to increase their data literacy as consumers, advocates and scholars of such quantified information on human rights abuse. No special knowledge of statistics is required for this course, but students should bring curiosity about working with numbers and data.