Online research tool will bridge human rights law and Catholic social thought

Author: Kevin Fye


The Center for Civil and Human Rights, in cooperation with the Center for Digital Scholarship of the Hesburgh Libraries, has begun work on an online research tool that will allow users to search Catholic social teaching documents alongside instruments of international human rights law. This free online library will help scholars, students, advocates, and public officials to identify both convergences and divergences between Catholic teachings on the subject of human rights and those contained in international law.

Esther Terry, Project Coordinator, is encouraged by the interest she has encountered across the Notre Dame community for such a tool. “The database is receiving enthusiastic support from our students, faculty, and staff,” says Terry. “Everyone seems to be intrigued by the potential for this research tool and have been eager to express their ideas for its development.”

The database will make digitized documents accessible in their totality, and searchable by topic, key words, or geographic region for purposes of comparison. Designed for a diverse audience and built upon an interdisciplinary framework, it will gradually expand to include not only primary sources but also secondary sources such as articles on the overlap between Catholic social thought and human rights, topical reference guides for educational purposes, and recommended bibliographies.

Scheduled for a pilot phase rollout in the summer of 2014, the project is currently in review by focus groups representing varying audiences. As Terry emphasizes, the database is meant to help a wide range of constituencies in their research, advocacy, and educational endeavors. “It is our hope that this searchable online library of human rights instruments and documents of Catholic social thought will have broad appeal and impact, not only in the academy, but also ‘on the ground.’”