International Conflict Management

Religious vs. Secular Human Rights Organizations: Discourse, Framing and Action

Project Description

The study of human rights is dominated by secular voices; however, increasingly the study of international relations recognizes the tension and interplay between the religious and the secular, and the impetus for human rights work has often come from a religious or moral foundation. This project explores the ways in which religious and secular human rights organizations frame, discuss, legitimize and operationalize human rights issues and priorities.

In this project, we use content analysis of the websites and published documents of international human rights NGOs, along with interviews with members of some of these organizations.  We are tracing the similarities and differences between the organizations, their missions and focus, their conceptions of human rights, and their rationale for engaging in the field.  We are also interested in whether and how these organizations incorporate women’s rights and a gender lens and how they interact with other NGOs and international organizations within the human rights field.

Project Departments 

Project Status

Seeking researchers

Researcher Requirements

While this position is unpaid, students working on this project will gain valuable skills in qualitative methodology, particularly in content analysis.  Students will be working to analyze the content from various NGOs websites and published documents.  If interested, students will also have the opportunity to present some of their research at an academic conference. Ideally, students selected for these positions would have some research methods background/coursework, but this is not a requirement.  We are looking for highly motivated students that are interested in furthering their research skills through hands-on content analysis work.  Given the interdisciplinary nature of this work, we are interested in students from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of interests.In addition, we are seeking students with foreign language skills (especially French, Spanish, and Arabic) to perform analyses of websites that are not in English and to potentially translate additional documents.

Project Duration

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 to Thursday, June 1, 2017


Charity Butcher
Maia Hallward