Master of Data Science for Public Policy   Master of International Affairs   Master of Public Policy  

Open-source investigation for human rights: Ethics, methods and practices

From videos of rights violations to satellite images of environmental degradation, to eyewitness accounts disseminated on social media, human rights practitioners have access to more data today than ever before. Modern technology – and the enhanced access it provides to information about abuse – has revolutionised both human rights reporting and documentation, as well as the pursuit of legal accountability and future policy.

However, open source methods for information gathering and dissemination have also created significant challenges for researchers and analysists as the capture and dissemination of content is often haphazard. For it to be of use for policy, advocacy and accountability, it must be discovered, verified and authenticated.

This course will discuss the history, ethics, methods and best practices associated with open source research and how it can be incorporated into documentation and investigation processes for human rights advocacy and accountability. 

By the end of the course students will:

  • Understand how to start, conduct and publish open source investigations
  • Be able to conduct verification on content source from the social web
  • Be able to consider the ethical and well-being challenges associated with open source investigations
  • Be familiar with the online tools needed to conduct open source investigations
  • Develop the mindset associated with open source investigations

This course is offered by the Centre for Fundamental Rights at the Hertie School in collaboration with Human Rights Watch.