Short course

Human Rights Leadership Lab


The details
Human Rights Leadership Lab
Human Rights professionals

Applications for this short course are now closed.

Six four-hour modules on 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 & 22 November 

The Essex Human Rights Centre presents a live online course for Human Rights Leaders.

This is a practical professional development course, comprising six four-hour modules. You will acquire concrete tools and skills to practice human rights values-based leadership and take your leadership ability, skills and presence to the next level.

We will be delivering our course in an online live, interactive format, split over three weeks.


  • Modules One & Two: Monday 7 November & Tuesday 8 November at 08.30 London / 09.30 CET / 15.30 ICT / 14.00 IST
  • Modules Three & Four: Monday 14 November & Tuesday 15 November at 08.30 London / 09.30 CET / 15.30 ICT / 14.00 IST
  • Modules Five & Six: Monday 21 November & Tuesday 22 November at 08.30 London / 09.30 CET / 15.30 ICT / 14.00 IST

For enquiries, please contact:

“The Human Rights Leadership Lab was of tremendous help at a critical moment for me, transitioning to a leadership role during the pandemic. The Lab helped me to learn and utilise various leadership styles and practices built upon human rights principles, integrity and empathy and ensuring team resilience and wellbeing. The coaching process integrated into the Lab enables valuable introspection and the opportunity to build yourself.”
Tome, Team Leader  Human Rights IGO 


The Human Rights Leadership Lab is a supportive and reflective learning space to develop your leadership presence, skills and impact. It is the first ever leadership development training specifically designed to meet the needs of activists and leaders and managers working for human rights organisations. You will gain practical tools to take your leadership to the next level, placing your core human rights values at the heart of your approach.

The Human Rights Leadership Lab commences with an examination of it's core philosophy - a human rights values-based approach to leadership. We then turn to examine human rights organisational culture, different leadership styles and competencies and how to motivate and inspire people using an empowering coaching approach. The final part of the Human Rights Leadership Lab focuses on how to build healthier and more sustainable working environments and prevent, mitigate and respond to stress, burn out and vicarious trauma through self-leadership and collective care strategies. You will acquire new leadership strategies, skills and tools and be empowered to lead more mindfully and do more impactful human rights work.

All participants who successfully complete the course will receive a University of Essex, Human Rights Centre certificate.

The design of the course requires limiting enrolment to a maximum of 10 participants.

“Taking part in the Human Rights Leadership Lab has been instrumental in supporting my professional growth to become a stronger leader in the field of human rights. Having a human rights valued-based approach as the core methodology spoke to the relevant and practical realities that my team and I face on a day to day level.”
Juanita, Leader Human Rights NGO

Meet the course facilitator

Liz Griffin is an honorary academic and leadership coach, mentor and trainer. Liz empowers people to make bigger strategic social justice impacts, nurture leadership ability, presence and skills and build healthier organisations and sustainable ways of working. She is a fellow of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex where she previously lectured in International Human Rights Law.

Liz has over 20 years of leadership experience working with the UN, human rights NGOs and universities, rising to the level of Professor of International Human Rights Law. She has lectured and directed large programs and human rights centres at the University of Oxford (UK), the UN-mandated University for Peace (Costa Rica), and Jindal Global University (India). Liz also established and managed Amnesty International’s first ever field office and she has served as an expert consultant and coach to NGOs and IGOs, including the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Liz is a recognised expert in the theory and practice of human rights, with a specialisation in the practical aspects of human rights work.

Liz is an Extraordinary Lecturer at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (South Africa), a Partner of the Human Rights Resilience Project and she also serves on the Advisory Board of the NGO, Universal Rights Group.

Find out more about Liz.   

Teaching programme

The course is 24 hours split across 6 sessions held over three weeks.

Week One

  • Monday November 7: Module One: 08.30 London / 09.30 CET / 15.30 ICT / 14.00 IST
  • Tuesday November 8: Module Two: 08.30 London / 09.30 CET / 15.30 ICT / 14.00 IST

Week Two

  • Monday November 14: Module Three: 08.30 London / 09.30 CET / 15.30 ICT / 14.00 IST
  • Tuesday November 15: Module Four: 08.30 London / 09.30 CET / 15.30 ICT / 14.00 IST

Week Three

  • Monday November 21: Module Five: 08.30 London / 09.30 CET / 15.30 ICT / 14.00 IST
  • Tuesday November 22: Module Six: 08.30 London / 09.30 CET / 15.30 ICT / 14.00 IST

Each Module runs for 4 hours with 2 x 15 min breaks.

Participants are advised to calculate additional time for reading and homework.

Each four-hour session requires about an hour of preparation material, including short readings, assessments, and reflective questions.

Once your application has been confirmed, you will get...

  • A 120+ page Leadership Lab Workbook, which contains preparatory materials, key information from each module, reflective questions, engaging exercises, and leadership development resources.
  • A leadership framework self-assessment tool to determine your current leadership strengths. 

Leadership Lab Modules

The idea that human rights values and principles motivate, inform and inspire us as leaders is the central theme of the Human Rights Leadership Lab and shows up in all six 4-hour modules.

Module 1: Values-Based Leadership & Organisational Culture

  • Learn about human rights values-based leadership and how you can put your values into practice as a leader.
  • Gain a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities of organisational culture and the interplay between culture and leadership.

Module 2: Leadership Styles & Emotional Intelligence Framework

  • Learn about different leadership styles, including feminist leadership, and how and when to use them to get results in different situations and support the diverse needs of staff.
  • Understand emotional intelligence and why it is a superpower for human rights values-based leaders.

Module 3: Coaching to Empower, Inspire & Motivate Staff

  • Learn how to use a coaching approach to empower and motivate staff to reach their maximum potential.
  • Develop key coaching competencies including active listening and powerful questioning while learning how to create an inspiring and reflective space.

Module 4: Open Space Leadership Lab Work

  • Share and reflect upon real leadership challenges and/or opportunities brought by members of our cohort, that we work though using a group coaching approach.

Module 5: Leading Yourself & Others Doing Human Rights Work

  • Understand the occupational hazards of human rights work and its potential negative impacts on the mental health of you and your staff.
  • Learn how to formulate and implement individual and organisational strategies to prevent, mitigate and respond to vicarious trauma and burnout.

Module 6: Self-Leadership & Self-Care

  • Understand how great leadership starts with leading yourself.
  • Formulate a practical action plan to hold yourself accountable for your own self-care as a foundation for preventing burnout and chronic stress at work

Learning outcomes

You will learn how to:

  • Put human rights values-based leadership into practice in your daily work
  • Take your leadership presence and impact to the next level by learning new competencies and skills
  • Further develop your leadership style and be more effective in responding to different situations and the diverse needs of staff
  • Enhance your leadership ability and emotional intelligence though greater self-awareness and self-reflection
  • Empower, motivate and support staff using a coaching approach
  • Implement strategies to lead yourself and others in ways that improve organisational culture as well as individual and team health and wellbeing
  • Formulate and implement individual and organisational strategies to prevent, mitigate and respond to vicarious trauma, stress and burnout


The content of the course is specifically tailored for human rights professionals and human rights defenders who currently occupy or are soon to occupy leadership positions. It is not suitable for other people who do not meet this key criterion.

You are a human rights activist or professional who is…

  • A new or experienced manager or supervisor seeking professional leadership development
  • Seeking confidence, new leadership skills and a broader peer network
  • Looking to take your leadership in the social justice / human rights sector to the next level
  • Working to develop your self-awareness, self-reflection, self-leadership and individual and collective wellbeing
  • Seeking practical tools to support teams dealing with traumatic content and high levels of stress

The application form includes a brief questionnaire relating to your leadership experience and credentials, which you are required to complete as part of your application.

The course is delivered entirely in English. Thus, you are required to be highly competent in English.

If you are interested in wider human rights issues, the HRC offers a highly successful Human Rights Summer School which may be far more suitable to your needs and interests. We are also developing a selection of professional short courses and CPDs designed to meet the human rights needs of a wide range of different human rights students and defenders.


The fees for the Human Leadership Lab are:

Fee type Early bird (until 5/09/2022) Standard (6/09/2022 - 01/11/2022)
Full fee £800 £950
NGO / Charity  £700 £850
Governmental and Inter-governmental  £1,050  £1,200
Essex student discount £562.50 £675
Essex staff / Alumni £600  £720
Non-Essex student £600 £720
Non-Essex academics £675 £850

To take advantage of our Early Bird Discount, please complete your application and submit payment before 5 September 2022.

The delivery of this course is dependent on a minimum number of applicants. In the unlikely event that this minimum is not met, we would have to reconsider the feasibility of running the course

Applying to the Human Rights Leadership Lab

Please note that applications for this course have now closed. It is our intention to run this course again within the next 12 months. If you would like to be kept updated on any future courses then please email your interest to If you are interested in running this course internally for your organisation or wish to explore one on one Leadership Training or Coaching please contact