Current Courses

The following is a list of Human Rights (HMRT) courses and cross-listed courses for the 2013-2014 school year. Please check the Course Catalog for the most current information about time schedules and class locations.

Autumn Quarter 2013

Winter Quarter 2014

Spring Quarter 2014


Autumn Quarter 2013: Human Rights Courses


Human Rights III: Contemporary Issues in Human Rights (HMRT 20300/30300)

Susan Gzesh, Senior Lecturer, College; Executive Director, Human Rights Program

Cross-listed: HIST 29303/39303, INRE 31800, LAWS 78201, LLSO 27200

Mon/Wed: 3:00–4:20pm

This course uses an interdisciplinary approach to analyze the application of international human rights to domestic and international issues. We present several specific case studies as a means to explore the interrelationship of human rights instruments and agencies, principles such as universalism v. cultural relativism, and the role of NGOs, film and other media in advocacy efforts. Topics will include the prohibition on torture at home and abroad, women’s rights as human rights, cultural relativism vs. universalism, and the right to health.  Students will have a mid-term paper which will lead to their final paper on a topic of their choosing.


Refugee History and Digital Archives (HMRT 26800/36800)

Andrew Janco, Lecturer, Human Rights Program

Cross-listed: HIST 29311/39311

Wed: 3:00–5:50pm

This course is an advanced seminar in the history of refugees and digital archives.  We will study the development of humanitarian and human rights protections for refugees, stateless people and other categories of displaced persons. We will discuss the various ways that state and non-state actors have understood and justified their responses to the forced movements of people.  In class discussion, we will place this historical experience in dialogue with the needs of contemporary humanitarian efforts and human rights organizations. As part of this work, we will discuss the use of digital archives for research as well as the development, creation and information architecture of digital archival collections. How have digital collections changed how we conduct research?  What new types of research are possible with digital collections?


Autumn 2013 Cross-Listed Courses (**denotes course parent)


Anthropology of Disability  (HMRT 25210/35210, ANTH 20405/30405, CHDV 30405, **MAPS 36900, SOSC 36900)

Morris Fred, Senior Lecturer, Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences

Thurs: 3:00–6:00pm

This seminar undertakes to explore “disability” from an anthropological perspective that recognizes it as a socially constructed concept with implications for our understanding of fundamental issues about culture, society, and individual differences. We explore a wide range of theoretical, legal, ethical, and policy issues as they relate to the experiences of persons with disabilities, their families, and advocates. The final project is a presentation on the fieldwork.


Documentary Production I  (HMRT 25106/35106, ARTV 23930/33930, **CMST 23930/33930)

Judy Hoffman, Senior Lecturer, Departments of Cinema and Media Studies and Visual Arts

Wed/Fri: 10:30am–1:20pm

This class is intended to develop skills in documentary production so that students may apply for the course with Kartemquin Films in the co-production of a documentary video that will take place over winter and spring quarters.  Introduction to Documentary Production focuses on the making of independent documentary video.  Examples of various styles of documentary will be screened and discussed.  Issues embedded in the documentary genre, such as the ethics and politics of representation and the shifting lines between fact and fiction will be explored.  Pre-production methodologies, production, and post-production techniques will be taught.  Students will be expected to develop an idea for a documentary video, crews will be formed, and each crew will produce a five-minute documentary.  Students will also be expected to purchase and external hard drive.


U.S. Legal History (HMRT 27061, AMER 27605, CRES 27605, GNSE 27605, **HIST 27605, LLSO 28010)

Amy Dru Stanley, Associate Professor, History

Mon/Wed: 1:30–2:50pm

This course focuses on the connections between law and society in modern America. It explores how legal doctrines and constitutional rules have defined individual rights and social relations in both the public and private spheres. It also examines political struggles that have transformed American law. Topics to be addressed include the meaning of rights; the regulation of property, work, race, and sexual relations; civil disobedience; and legal theory as cultural history. Readings include legal cases, judicial rulings, short stories, and legal and historical scholarship.

Winter Quarter 2014: Human Rights Courses


Human Rights II: History and Theory  (HMRT 20200/30200)

Mark Bradley, Bernadotte E. Schmitt Professor of International History

Patrick Kelly, Graduate Lecturer, Human Rights Program; PhD candidate, History

Cross-Listed: CRES 29302, HIST 29302/39302, INRE 31700, JWSC 26602, LAWS 41301, LLSO 27100

Tue/Thurs: 1:30-2:50pm

What are the origins of our contemporary era of human rights?  How far back does its history go and what are its prospects for the future?  This course introduces students to the contested global history of human rights to answer these and other questions.  It places particular emphasis on the evolution of human rights norms from the Enlightenment through the 1940s, the flowering of human rights advocacy especially since the 1970s, and the turn to global justice in recent decades.  It also addresses the relationship of human rights to humanitarianism, non-governmental organizations, and international law.  It explores these topics through monograph and film-based case studies as it exposes students to the complexities of cultural representations of human rights violence.  Classroom time will be divided between lecture and smaller-based discussion groups and will feature a number of prominent guest speakers.   


The Practice of Human Rights (HMRT 29001/39001)

Susan Gzesh, Senior Lecturer, College; Executive Director, Human Rights Program

Mon/Wed: 3:00-4:20pm

The Practice of Human Rights is a seminar designed to examine human rights advocacy through a set of disciplinary perspectives (humanities, history, law, etc.) Students will engage in a project to analyze and document advocacy undertaken in a contemporary human rights campaign. For Winter 2013, the case study will be the Chicago Police Torture cases. Students must be 3d or 4th year College students or graduate or professional students. Students must have previous coursework in Human Rights or African American history at the University of Chicago or have permission of the instructor to enroll.

Humanitarianism and War (HMRT 26700/36700)

Andrew Janco, Lecturer, Human Rights Program

Cross-listed: HIST 29511/39511, INRE 39504

Mon/Wed: 1:30-2:50pm

In this course, we will study the history of war and forced migration.  We will focus on how particular historical crises have led to the development of human rights protections for people displaced by war. What were these crises and how have they shaped the way we define the rights and status of refugees?  How have these conventions been adapted to reflect the challenges of the World Wars, the Cold War, guerrilla warfare and insurgency?  We will study both developments in warfare and strategies for protecting civilians during war.  


Human Rights in Russia and Eurasia (HMRT 26500/36500)

Andrew Janco, Lecturer, Human Rights Program

Cross-listed: HIST 29312/39313, SLAV 26500/36500

Mon/Wed: 10:30-11:50am

This course focuses on the political economy of human rights in Russia and Eurasia. We will study how international norms have been “imported” by post-Soviet states.  How have regional politics and cultures shaped how rights norms are understood and how they are protected in practice?  Why do many post-Soviet countries fail to protect the rights of their citizens?  Using knowledge of the history, political culture and social practices of the region, we will work to identify those rights issues with the most potential for positive change and those more likely to remain enduring problems.


Health and Human Rights (HMRT 21400/31400)

Renslow Sherer, MD, Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases and Global Health Section

Evan Lyon, MD, Assistant Professor, Medicine

Cross-listed: MEDC 60405

Mon/Wed: 10:30-11:50am

This course will attempt to define health and health care in the context of human rights theory and practice.  In what ways does a right to health include a right to health care?  We will delineate health care financing in the United States and compare these systems with those of other nations.  We will explore specific issues of health and human rights in such topics as global conflict; torture; environmental health; HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis; women’s health; and poverty.  Readings and discussions will explore social determinants of health: housing, educational institutions, employment, and the fraying of social safety nets.  We will study such vulnerable populations as foster children, refugees, rural residents, prisoners, the poor, and the mentally ill.  Students will be challenged to consider choices in health and human rights in their own lives and expected to take informed positions based on science and empirical evidence. A priority will be placed on approaches and remedies to identified instances of health and human rights violations. The mid-term and final papers will require a thoughtful and informed analysis of real-world case studies in health and human rights.


Women, Children, Gender and Human Rights (HMRT 28000/38000)

Bernardine Dohrn, Clinical Associate Professor of Law and Former Director/Founder of the Children and Family Justice Center, Northwestern University

Cross-listed: LAWS 78202

Mon/Wed: 1:30-2:50pm

This year is the 24nd anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 46th anniversary of In re Gault holding that children are constitutional persons in the United States.  Women’s full recognition as constitutional persons in the United States emerged over a century of struggle 93 years ago, yet the United States has yet to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  Rarely are the intertwined tensions, similarities and distinctiveness between the rights of women and those of children recognized, analyzed, and resolved.  Often they seem contradictory or competitive.  Of course, human rights involving the civil, criminal or constitutional rights of both women and children (and girls) are a recent development, as is the global discourse and international law of human rights treaties and standards.  Legal and political issues regarding the enforcement and administration of human rights law for both women and children are rapidly emerging in treaty provisions, jurisprudence, customary law, legislation, and legal hearings around the world.  This seminar will examine the intersecting human rights frameworks that affect women, children, and LGBTI communities, including matters of evidence, jurisdiction, and domestic implementation and applicability.  The class will investigate the changing constructions of childhood, family and gender within the context of their contending frameworks of economic, social and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights. Students will examine the impact of essentialism on international human rights, as well as religious law (such as Shari’a) and traditional customary law. The class will discuss, in some depth, substantive areas of human rights law in both the U.S. and abroad that involve women’s rights and child rights, including: trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation, particularly domestic workers and the most hazardous forms child labor; discrimination and family status (including marriage rights: polygamy, freedom movement, inheritance and LGBT rights); rape and sexual violence against women and girls in armed conflict; harmful traditional practices including FGM and child marriage; health care rights including maternal mortality, HIV (mother-to-child transmission); reproductive rights; maternal health, childbirth and child survival; inter-country adoption; domestic violence and corporal punishment of children; and corporate violations of human rights.


An International Migrants Bill of Rights: Theory and Practice (HMRT 22001)

Lisa Simeone, Graduate Lecturer, Human Rights Program; PhD candidate, Anthropology

Cross-listed: ANTH 25240

Tue/Thurs: 10:30-11:50am

Migrants are often excluded from many of the rights and benefits of membership in the societies where they live. In recent years, a group of advocates has developed an International Migrants Bill of Rights with the goal of consolidating the normative instruments that apply to all migrants, regardless of their status or grounds for admission. This course seeks to engage their efforts by using this “soft law” document as a prism through which to examine the challenges facing today’s migrant workers, refugees, and their families, as well as the possibilities for improving their lives. Each class will explore the implications of a rights category, as articulated within the IMBR, by examining its conceptual genealogy with reference to relevant works of social, legal, and political theory, as well as empirical studies in the social sciences. Class discussion will encourage critical inquiry of human rights as a theoretical and practical framework for addressing problems of structural inequality and exclusion within a global context of growing socioeconomic inequality and extra-judicial law enforcement.


Winter 2014 Cross-Listed Courses (**denotes course parent )


U.S. Women and Gender  (HMRT 27306/37306, **HIST 27306/37306, LLSO 27306)

Amy Dru Stanley, Associate Professor, History

Course description to be announced

Mon: 12:30–3:20pm


Humanitarianism: A History  (HMRT 29645, **HIST 29645)

Michael Geyer, Samuel N. Harper Professor of German and European History; Faculty Director, Human Rights Program

Wed: 8:30–11:20am

Humanitarianism in its most general form is an ethics of benevolence and sympathy extending universally and impartially to all human beings. Humanitarians understand the world as an affective community and insist that the world can be transformed—and if not transformed, suffering and ill-treatment can be alleviated—by fearless vanguards of compassion. Humanitarianism is the ideology of radical liberals. Lately, the entire idea has come under attack as deceptive, fraudulent, and useless. Humanitarianism has failed and if anything it has not actively worsened humanitarian crises. Humanitarians promise relief and deliver a mess; they consort with the worst abusers of human rights; they have never changed anything. The main question we will explore is what we make of this critique. But first of all we ask: What do humanitarians do? What is their effect and when and where are they effective? Is it true that abolitionists have achieved the abolition of slavery? What about the struggle for social justice? About famine relief? About refugee aid? Rather than chasing one case after another, we will focus on the humanitarian rationale for action and how it differs from other rationales, say, of pacifists, Marxists, liberal rights-based approaches, or power-political realists. We will also pay attention to the politics of sympathy that undergirds the humanitarian approach. How is sympathy elicited and what are the benefits and drawbacks of this peculiar form of action? Why should visuals and performance be such powerful motivators for humanitarian action?


Vulnerability and Human Rights (HMRT 28310/38310, **CHDV 26310)

Don Kulick, Professor, Comparative Human Development

Thurs: 3-5:50pm

The course discusses current theories of vulnerability and passivity in relation to human rights. It pays particular attention how human rights and social justice can be thought of in relation to people with severe disabilities, animals, and others who are not traditionally thought of as subjects of justice. We will discuss philosophical texts by Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, John Rawls, Martha Nussbaum and others, and sociological texts by scholars like Bryan Turner and Tom Shakespeare.


Health Care and the Limits of State Action  (HMRT 28602, BIOS 29323, **BPRO 28600, CMLT 28900)

Dr. Evan Lyon, Assistant Professor, Medicine

Haun Saussy, University Professor, Comparative Literature

Tue/Thurs: 1:30–2:50pm

In a time of great human mobility and weakening state frontiers, epidemic disease is able to travel fast and far, mutate in response to treatment, and defy the institutions invented to keep it under control: quarantine, the cordon sanitaire, immunization, and the management of populations. Public health services in many countries find themselves at a loss in dealing with these outbreaks of disease, a deficiency to which NGOs emerge as a response (an imperfect one to be sure). Through a series of readings in anthropology, sociology, ethics, medicine, and political science, we will attempt to reach an understanding of this crisis of both epidemiological technique and state legitimacy, and to sketch out options.


Documentary Production II  (HMRT 25107/35107, **CMST 23931/33931, ARTV 23931/33931)

Judy Hoffman, Senior Lecturer, Departments of Cinema and Media Studies and Visual Arts

Wed/Fri: 10:30am–1:20pm

This course focuses on the shaping and crafting of a nonfiction video. Students are expected to write a treatment detailing their project. Production techniques focus on the handheld camera versus tripod, interviewing and microphone placement, and lighting for the interview. Postproduction covers editing techniques and distribution strategies. Students then screen final projects in a public space. This course meets for two quarters.


Advanced Legal Research: Foreign and International Law  (HMRT 39803, **LAWS 79803, 2-credit seminar)

Ms. Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Foreign & International Law Librarian and Lecturer in Law, D’Angelo Law Library

The purpose of this seminar is to enhance students' knowledge of foreign, comparative, and international legal sources and to develop their global legal research skills. The seminar will cover the basic categories of legal research in depth and with a focus on practical skills and efficiency, including locating constitutions, legislation, treaties, cases, decisions of international tribunals, documents of international organizations such as the EU, UN, WIPO, and the WTO, and secondary sources. This seminar also will address a series of practice areas such as comparative corporate law (focus on cross-border practice areas), comparative constitutional law, international intellectual property, international criminal law, international trade law, international environmental law, and international human rights, focusing on the substantive resources and practical research skills for each. It will also highlight gaps in international legal research resources and techniques for bridging them. Upon successful completion of the seminar, students will expand their understanding of research resources in a variety of areas, will improve their skills in using international legal research tools, and will develop extensive research knowledge in at least one area from their work on a final research paper.

Spring Quarter 2014: Human Rights Courses


Human Rights I: Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights  (HMRT 20100)

David Holiday, Graduate Lecturer, Human Rights Program; PhD candidate, Philosophy

Cross-listed: HIST 29301, LLSO 25100, PHIL 21700

Mon/Wed: 1:30-2:50pm

*Special note: this course is only open to undergraduate students this term

Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide.


Human Rights: Alien and Citizen  (HMRT 24701/34701)

Susan Gzesh, Senior Lecturer, College; Executive Director, Human Rights Program

Cross-listed: LACS 25303/35303, LAWS 62401

Mon/Wed: 3-4:20pm

The fundamental principle underlying the concept of human rights is that rights are inherent in the identity of all human beings, regardless of place and without regard to their citizenship, nationality, or immigration status. Human rights are universal and must be respected everywhere and always. This course will address whether and how international human rights protect the alien (or foreigner) who has left his or her country of origin to work, seek safe haven, or join family or friends in another country, using materials and readings from various disciplines.


Law, Mobilization, and Social Change in Comparative Perspective  (HMRT 22002)

Maria Akchurin, Graduate Lecturer, Human Rights Program; PhD candidate, Sociology

Cross-listed: SOCI 28061, GNSE 22212, AMER 22002

Tue/Thurs: 10:30-11:50am

This course examines various approaches to law, social movements, and social change. In what ways and under what conditions do legal institutions constrain movement activity and when do they offer opportunities for social movements? How do social movements use legal mobilization and claims about legal rights to pursue their goals? Under what conditions do movements choose to use institutional channels and when do they take extra-legal action? When do rights frameworks tend to be most effective in making claims on the state? What are the roles of lawyers and other experts in reproducing existing institutions or fostering social change? What is the relationship between global norms and the local realities of implementation? We will explore these questions using a series of case studies on women’s rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, environmental justice, and other sites of mobilization drawn from the global north and south, especially in the Americas.


Spring 2014 Cross-Listed Courses (**denotes course parent)


History of International Thought  (HMRT 33200, **PLSC 33200)

Jennifer Pitts, Associate Professor, Political Science

The field of International Relations long traced its history through traditions and conceptions (realism, liberalism, anarchy, international society) understood to be derived from a series of founding figures and moments--Grotius, Hobbes, Kant, the 1648 Westphalia treaties, and others. At the same time, the history of international thought was until recently relatively neglected by political theorists and intellectual historians. This course examines some of the most influential "originary" figures and moments for theorists of international relations, alongside recent historical work, in order to reconsider possibilities for international theory and the history of international thought.


Worker Rights in the Global Economy  (HMRT 27100/37100, **SSA 48012)

Virginia Parks, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration

This course examines how globalization affects the lives of workers across the globe from a geographic and human rights perspective. The course analyzes the impact of changes in the global political economy over the last fifty years on workers’ rights, working conditions, and living standards, and evaluates strategies adopted by worker organizations and advocates in response to these changes. Students will gain a working knowledge of structural changes in the global economy by examining the geographic relocation of jobs and workers, the changing roles of firms and states, and the emergence of new legal regimes governing worker rights. Case studies are drawn from across the globe, including the U.S., focusing on commodity chains (e.g., coffee), regions (e.g., China), or specific populations (e.g., migrant women). This foundational knowledge will enable students to analyze different strategies for change—linking worker rights to trade agreements, corporate social responsibility, transnational legal strategies, corporate campaigns, consumer boycotts—in order to better understand the possibilities and limitations of each for redressing the inequalities of globalization and shoring up the rights of workers.


Latino Social Movements in the 20th Century (HMRT 22003, **CRES 21811)

María E. Balandrán-Castillo, Graduate Lecturer, CSRPC; PhD candidate, History  

This course will provide a historical examination of the different political strategies used by the Latino population of the United States, including US citizens and foreigners, to defend their civil, economic, political and human rights throughout the 20th century. We will read about Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and their US born children, paying special attention to the diplomatic, political and economic relations between the US and their countries of origin. This will help us explain the political strategies used by each national group at different historical moments. These strategies included obtaining classification as whites, minorities, citizens, refugees and foreigners, with interventions by foreign governments and appeals to US courts, religious organizations, and labor unions. Latinos used pan-ethnic organizing, class action lawsuits, protests, boycotts and lobbying to expand the rights available to citizens and immigrants. A constant theme in this course is the tension between Latino efforts to attain full citizenship in the US, and the struggle to achieve pan-ethnic solidarity despite distinct political realities. By paying special attention to historical detail, students will be able to describe how US and international law influenced Latino social movements, and how these in turn influenced the law.


Social Rights and the New Social Democracies in Latin America (HMRT 26504, **LACS 26504)

Gregory Duff Morton, Graduate Lecturer, PhD candidate, Anthopology and Social Service Administration

Is there such a thing as a right not to be poor? Or a right to be a group?

Over the past ten years, Latin Americans have revived and reinvented these classic human rights questions. Left-wing governments, elected in a wave that traversed the region, have made vigorous attempts both to create new rights and to talk about rights in new ways: in the terms of “citizenship,” “participation,” and “struggle.”  In this class, we will use the past decade to think through some general questions. Why do rights emerge at certain moments in history? What context makes it possible for new rights to achieve recognition? How is the current debate on rights connected to a long tradition of political practice in Latin America? Can people meaningfully possess socioeconomic rights and collective rights? What are the limits that rights discourse imposes, and what alternatives are available for thinking about social democracy? We will open with an examination of rights and legal practice at key points in Latin America’s past. We will look, in particular, at three issues: the legal apparatus that accompanied Spanish conquest, the troubled relationship between liberalism and slavery, and the resurgence of social rights during the populist moment in the mid-twentieth century. After considering the history behind the current moment, we will investigate at length the economy and culture of contemporary post-neoliberalism. We will then move to consider the voicings involved in speaking from an indigenous position. Next we will inquire how social democracy engages with new subjects: the subjects of participation and citizenship.  This will lead us to an analysis of new social programs (with conditional cash transfers as our key example) and the debates about economic rights that they inspire. We will conclude by assessing contemporary points of crossing between the collective and the universal.


Migration and Women’s Rights in Literature and Film (HMRT 23402/33402, GNSE 23310/33310, ENGL 23414/33414)

Roxana Galusca, Society of Fellows, Media and Cultural Studies

See department for course description


Poverty, Inequality and the Welfare State (HMRT 30401, SSAD 60400, PPHA 36701)

Evelyn Brodkin, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Poverty and inequality create critical challenges for contemporary democratic societies. This seminar examines responses to these conditions in the U.S. and compares its responses to those of other countries. This examination includes consideration of the relationship between politics and policymaking, the character of public debates about poverty and inequality, conflict over the state's role in responding to these conditions, and specific efforts to address these conditions through public policy instruments. The seminar brings both historical and international perspectives to bear, taking up selected examples that highlight how political responses to poverty and inequality vary over time and in different national settings. It also draws attention to the strategic implications for policymaking and practice.


When Cultures Collide (HMRT 35600, 45600,PSYC 45300, ANTH 45600, GNSE 45600)

Richard Shweder, William Claude Reavis Distinguished Service Professor of Human Development, Department of Psychology

Coming to terms with diversity in an increasingly multicultural world has become one of the most pressing public policy projects for liberal democracies in the early 21st century.  One way to come to terms with diversity is to try to understand the scope and limits of toleration for variety at different national sites where immigration from foreign lands has complicated the cultural landscape.  This seminar examines a series of legal and moral questions about the proper response to norm conflict between mainstream populations and cultural minority groups (including old and new immigrants), with special reference to court cases that have arisen in the recent history of the United States. (3*)


Seminar: Law – Philosophy (LAWS 61512, PHIL 51200, RETH 51301, PLSC 51512, GNSE 50101)

Martha C Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, Law School

 Sarah Conly, Assistant Professor of Philosphy, Bowdoin College

This is a seminar/workshop many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors. Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The course satisfies the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement. There are approximately four meetings in each of the three quarters. Students must therefore enroll for all three quarters.