Our Human Rights curriculum includes introductory courses on the philosophical foundations and contemporary issues in human rights, as well as elective courses with disciplinary, thematic, and/or regional perspectives. College students can enroll in our Human Rights in World Civilizations Core sequence or the Spring Quarter study abroad in Paris

The College Course Catalog contains a list of undergraduate Human Rights courses offered each year. You can also browse our previous course offerings (Autumn 2001-Spring 2020).

Read what the College’s updated Spring 2020 Pass/Fail policy means for Human Rights minors.

Current Courses

The Human Rights courses we’re offering during the 2023-24 academic year are included below: 

Autumn Quarter 2023 courses
Winter Quarter 2024 courses
Spring Quarter 2024 courses

Courses and cross-lists will be updated as details become available. For the most current information about schedule and classroom details, use the Class Search on the Academic Information System.  

At the bottom of each course description, you will find information on what distribution requirements the course satisfies for Human Rights Majors:

Required: This is a required course for the major.
Hum Foundation: This course satisfies the Humanities Foundation requirement.
Soc Foundation: This course satisfies the Social Sciences Foundation requirement.
Context: This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Context Stream.
Crisis: This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Crisis Stream.
R2HR: This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Right to Have Rights Stream.
Theory: This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Theory Stream.
Transition: This course satisfies an elective requirement in the Transition Stream.

See this list for the elective requirements satisfied by past courses.

Please contact Kathy Scott with questions about Human Rights course administration. 

Autumn Quarter 2023 | Human Rights Courses

Human Rights in World Civilizations I

HMRT 10100
Section 1: T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM, Ben Laurence, (Pozen)
Section 2: T/Th: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM, Ben Laurence, (Pozen)
Section 3: T/Th: 12:30 - 1:50 PM, Savitri Kunze, (History and Pozen)
Section 4: T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM, Nory Peters, (Comparative Literature)
Section 5: T/Th: 3:30 - 4:50 PM, Nory Peters, (Comparative Literature)
Cross list: SOSC 24900

The first quarter begins with a set of conceptual problems and optics designed to introduce students to the critical study of human rights, opening up questions of the universal, human dignity, and the political along with the practices of witness and testimony. It is followed by two thematic clusters. "Anti-Slavery, Humanitarianism, and Rights" focuses on the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to historicize notions of dignity, sympathy, and witness. "Declarations as a Human Rights Genre" examines revolutionary eighteenth-century rights declarations in France, the United States, and Haiti against the aspirations of the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. These courses must be taken in sequence. If not used to satisfy the civilizations requirement, this course may be used to satisfy electives requirements in any of the five streams.

Global Perspectives on Reproductive Justice Theory and Practice

HMRT 12123
Malavika Parthasarathy, (Law)
M/W: 3:00 - 4:20 PM
Cross lists: GNSE 12123, GLST 22123

The US Supreme Court's 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization has sharpened our awareness of the perils that besiege our reproductive futures. This course offers a deep dive into comparative reproductive justice theory and practice rooted both in unique cultural particularities and in globally resonant issues and challenges. While exposing students to the foundational texts shaping the reproductive justice movement, the course shall engage critically with the possibilities and limitations of a rights based framework and the challenges and liberatory potential of a justice based approach to reproductive decision-making. Drawing from literature and media from across the world, the course shall provide global perspectives on issues as varied as contraception, assisted reproductive technology, mass sterilization, and family leave, along with scholarship and resources from the US. While engaging critically with theory, the course shall also provide practitioners' perspectives through guest lectures by ethnographers, lawyers, and healthcare professionals working in the field. This course counts as a Foundations course for GNSE majors.
Context, R2HR

Human Rights: History and Theory

HMRT 20200
Savitri Kunze, (Pozen)
T/Th: 3:30 - 4:50 PM
Cross lists: HMRT 30200, CRES 29302, HIST 29302, HIST 39302, INRE 31700

This course is concerned with the theory and the historical evolution of the modern human rights regime. It discusses the emergence of a modern “human rights” culture as a product of the formation and expansion of the system of nation-states and the concurrent rise of value-driven social mobilizations. It proceeds to discuss human rights in two prevailing modalities. First, it explores rights as protection of the body and personhood and the modern, Western notion of individualism. Second, it inquires into rights as they affect groups (e.g., ethnicities and, potentially, transnational corporations) or states.
Soc Foundation, Context

Human Rights: Contemporary Issues

HMRT 21001
Susan Gzesh, (The College)
Lecture: T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM
Cross-lists: HIST 29304, LLSO 21001, LACS 21001, SOSC 21001

This course examines basic human rights norms and concepts and selected contemporary human rights problems from across the globe, including human rights implications of the COVID pandemic. Beginning with an overview of the present crises and significant actors on the world stage, we will then examine the political setting for the United Nations' approval of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948. The post-World War 2 period was a period of optimism and fertile ground for the establishment of a universal rights regime, given the defeat of fascism in Europe. International jurists wanted to establish a framework of rights that went beyond the nation-state, taking into consideration the partitions of India-Pakistan and Israel-Palestine - and the rising expectations of African-Americans in the U.S. and colonized peoples across Africa and Asia. But from the beginning, there were basic contradictions in a system of rights promulgated by representatives of nation-states that ruled colonial regimes, maintained de facto and de jure systems of racial discrimination, and imprisoned political dissidents and journalists. Cross-cutting themes of the course include the universalism of human rights, problems of impunity and accountability, notions of "exceptionalism," and the emerging issue of the "shamelessness" of authoritarian regimes. Students will research a human rights topic of their choosing, to be presented as either a final research paper or a group presentation.
Crisis, Context

Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations

HMRT 21002
Ben Laurence, (Pozen)
Time: M, W, F: 9:30 - 10:20 AM
Cross lists: HMRT 31001, HIST 29319, HIST 39319, INRE 31602, LLSO 21002, MAPH 42002, PHIL 21002, PHIL 31002

In this class we explore the philosophical foundations of human rights, investigating theories of how our shared humanity in the context of an interdependent world gives rise to obligations of justice. Webegin by asking what rights are, how they are distinguished from other part of morality, and what role they play in our social and political life. But rights come in many varieties, and we are interested in human rights in particular. In later weeks, we will ask what makes something a human right, and how are human rights different from other kinds of rights. We will consider a number of contemporary philosophers (and one historian) who attempt to answer this question, including James Griffin, Joseph Raz, John Rawls, John Tasioulas, Samuel Moyn, Jiewuh Song, and Martha Nussbaum. Throughout we will be asking questions such as, "What makes something a human right?" "What role does human dignity play in grounding our human rights?" "Are human rights historical?" "What role does the nation and the individual play in our account of human rights?" "When can one nation legitimately intervene in the affairs of another nation?" "How can we respect the demands of justice while also respecting cultural difference?" "How do human rights relate to global inequality and markets?" (A) (I)
Hum Foundation, Theory

Militant Democracy and the Preventative State

HMRT 21005
Kathleen Cavanaugh, (Pozen Center & The College)
T/Th: 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
Cross lists: PLSC 21005, HMRT 31005

Are states of exception still exceptional? The current debates and developments as well as the existential governmental crises has led to a securitization of rights. State security discourse narrates how states understand and mediate their legal obligations and has been used justify pre-emptive actions and measures which otherwise would not fit within an international law framework. When narrated in the public square, States often construct a discourse around a necessity defence—measures that may be extra-legal but argued to be necessary to protect democratic values and the democratic ‘way of life.’ This typifies what we refer to as ‘militant democratic’ language of the ‘preventive state’ and has been most visible in the raft of antiterrorism measures that were introduced after the events of September 11, 2001 and remain to date. This course will examine the impact of militant democracy and the preventative state on the current human rights landscape. It will look specifically how the narrative of prevention and protection has impacted normative changes to fundamental human rights and how the permanence of emergency is beginning to give the concept of ‘securitization of rights’ legal legs.
Crisis, Theory

Abortion: Morality, Politics, Philosophy

HMRT 22702
Jason Bridges, (Philosophy) Daniel Brudney, (Philosophy)
T: Lecture, 12:30 - 3:20 PM
Fri: Discussion 1: 10:30 - 11:20 AM, Discussion 2: 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM, Discussion 3: 12:30 - 1:20 PM, Discussion 4: 1:30 - 2:20 PM
Cross lists: BPRO 22700, PHIL 22702, GNSE 22705, HIPS 22701, HLTH 22700
Theory, R2HR

Abortion is a complex and fraught topic. Morally, a very wide range of individual, familial, and social concerns converge upon it. Politically, longstanding controversies have been given new salience and urgency by the Dobbs decision and the ongoing moves by state legislatures to restrict access to abortion. In terms of moral philosophy, deep issues in ethics merge with equally deep questions about the nature of life, action, and the body. In terms of political philosophy, basic questions are raised about the relationship of religious and moral beliefs to the criminal law of a liberal state. We will seek to understand the topic in all of this complexity. Our approach will be thoroughly intra- and inter-disciplinary, drawing not only on our separate areas of philosophical expertise but on the contributions of a series of guest in law, history, and medicine. (A)

Human Rights BA Essay Workshop I

HMRT 23472
Instructor: Pedro Gerson, (Pozen Center)
Date/Time: TBD

4th year students writing a BA Essay in Human Rights must enroll in this two-quarter long sequence. Students will meet every other week to workshop and receive feedback on their BA essay theses from their peers and the Director of Practice. The Workshop will likely inbvolve training, including trauma informed research methodology, and other topics as relevant. This course is 0 credits in Autumna Quarter and 100 credits in Winter Quarter.   (Those writing a joint BA with another major may petition to satisfy this requirement with the BA Essay Workshop of their other major.)

Technology and Human Rights

HMRT 24125
Lake Polan, (Anthropology)
M/W: 1:30 - 2:50 PM
Cross list: ANTH 24125

The international human rights regime took form in the shadow of the atom bomb and WWII, a historical juncture, which for many marked the limits of techno-scientific rationality and progress. Utopian narratives of inevitable, technologically-driven social and economic progress nonetheless remain a cornerstone of American political and cultural imaginaries. In this course, we will draw on anthropology, law, and allied disciplines to explore the ambiguous intersections of technological innovation and human rights. Through a series of case studies, the course will consider how new technologies and their allied knowledge practices call into question the foundational categories of human rights law, complicating understandings of the individual, person hood, family, and life. The course will further examine how emerging developments in biotechnology, information technology, robotics, and AI variously enhance and undermine the substantive protections of human rights, including the rights to health, privacy, freedom of expression, security, and indigenous knowledge. Finally, we will consider how human rights norms and institutions can be mobilized to inform and constrain the design and application of potentially threatening new technologies.
Theory, R2HR

Water Water Everywhere?

HMRT 24193
Susan Gzesh, (The College), Abigail Winograd, (Gray Center)
Fri: 9:30 AM - 12:20 PM
Cross lists: BPRO 24193, CHST 24193, SOSC 21005, ENST 24193, ARTH 24193

This interdisciplinary course explores aesthetics, environmental racism, and a human rights approach to the Commons to inform our perspective on the politics and aesthetics of water from the local to the global. The course will look at issues of scarcity and abundance through the lenses of art and human rights. The course will incorporate work by artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, who will visit the class. Students will consider works by other artists including Mel Chin, Allan Kaprow, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and Fazal Sheikh, to understand how art can confront the 21st century's environmental challenges. Readings will include Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others, and Fred Moten & Stefano Harney's The Undercommons. The course will include visits to site specific installations by artists Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle and Mel Chin, and visits to Chicago-area natural sites such as the Big Marsh and Lake Michigan. This course is an extension of a collaborative project at the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry with human rights lawyer Susan Gzesh, artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, and curator Abigail Winograd.
R2HR, Crisis

International Human Rights Law and Practice

HMRT 24823
Kathleen Cavanaugh, (Pozen Center & The College)
T/Th: 12:30 - 1:50 PM
PLSC 24823

This course will introduce students to the legal architecture of international human rights law. Whilst the legal framing of rights emphasizes universality and the common good, its application reflects the historical compromises and political uncertainties of the times. This course will explore the tensions that are produced when politics meets 'the law' and examine the issues, actors, doctrines and practices that make up the human rights project. As human rights law is evolutive, we will look at how the human rights project has changed and evolved in connection to historical movements and post-colonial politics and has developed in order to address state violence, 'terrorism', minority rights, women's rights, gender and sexuality, transitional justice, health, and responsibility to protect, to name but a few. We will draw on case studies, including the United States, in order to examine the complicated role of the state as both perpetrator and protector and promoter of human rights. Students will be encouraged to think critically about the human rights project; how does it confront the underlying issues of injustice and abuse, as well as the inherent conceptual and structural limitations of supranational human rights mechanisms in addressing and providing remedies for the problems facing the world today.

Religion and Human Rights

HMRT 24901
John Marc Sianghio, Jr. (Divinity)
11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
Cross lists: RLST 24901, GLST 24902, GNSE 24903

Religion played a crucial, but often overlooked, role in the development of post-World War II conceptions of human rights, providing principles and ideas that continue to influence contemporary human rights debates in the fields of law, public policy, and international relations. This no-prior-knowledge-necessary course explores the complex, sometimes fraught, relationship between religion and human rights from World War II to the present. We will begin by juxtaposing the role religious ideas played in the drafting of core post-war human rights documents (e.g. the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, etc.) with the decision by drafters to omit direct references to the divine or the beliefs of specific religious communities. Using case study analysis and close reading of primary religious texts, scholarly commentary, and historical accounts, we will examine the ways in which individuals and groups from multiple religious (and non-religious) traditions both apply and push back against existing human rights norms. Throughout the course we will discuss the role religion might play in debates surrounding emerging, but still contentious, conceptions of human rights. This includes: universal healthcare, LGBTQIA+ rights, ever more complex manifestations of religious freedom, as well as whether human rights as conceived of in the mid-20th Century can be reconciled with decolonial and post-colonial perspectives.
Theory, Context

Documentary Production I

HMRT 25106
Instructor: Marco Ferrari, (Cinema and Media Studies)
T/Th: 11:00 AM - 1:50 PM
Cross lists: CMST 23930, CMST 33930, ARTV 33930, ARTV 23930, HMRT 35106, MAAD 23930

Documentary Video Production focuses on the making of independent documentary video. Examples of various modes of documentary production will be screened and discussed. Issues embedded in the genre, such as the ethics, the politics of representation, and the shifting lines between "the real" and "fiction" will be explored. Story development, pre-production strategies, and production techniques will be our focus, in particular-research, relationships, the camera, interviews and sound recording, shooting in available light, working in crews, and post-production editing. Students will work in crews and be expected to purchase a portable hard drive. A five-minute string-out/rough-cut will be screened at the end of the quarter. Students are strongly encouraged to take Doc Production 2 to complete their work.
Context, Transition

Human Rights Capstone Practice Workshop I

HMRT 25317
Instructor: Pedro Gerson, (Pozen Center)
Date/Time: TBD

This two-quarter-long course exists to support 4th-year students who are on the practice-intensive capstone track. Students will meet every other week to plan and receive help executing their projects from inception to completion. At every step, students will receive feedback from their peers and from the Director of Practice. The workshop will also likely involve training, including trauma-informed research methodology, media strategy, and other topics as relevant. This course is 0 credits in Autumn Quarter and 100 credits in Winter Quarter.

Justice at the Margins: Religion, Race, and Resistance Ethics

HMRT 25561
Derek Buyan, (Divinity)
T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM
Cross lists: RLST 25561, CRES 22561,RDIN 22561

How does race shape what we think about what is right and wrong, just and unjust? How about religion? Is "justice" a universal idea that stretches across social groups, or do our experiences as members of a religious and/or racial group have fundamentally affect our understanding(s) of justice? We'll begin by examining works by Aristotle, King, Rawls, and Nussbaum, asking what each theorist thinks justice entails and why. Along the way, we'll ask how stated and suppressed understandings of both "race" and "religion" inform their theories, as well as complicate and challenge them. Then we'll set these theories of justice in conversation with works by Francisco de Vitoria, W.E.B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, Cornel West, Traci C. West, and the Movement for Black Lives, each of which offers a protest against injustice in which "race" and "religion" play a prominent role. No previous knowledge required.
Theory, R2HR

Queer South Asia

HMRT 26113
Nisha Kommattam, (Comparative Literature)
T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM
Cross lists: CMLT 26113, CRES 26115, GNSE 26113, SALC 2611

This course explores representations of queerness, same-sex love, sexualities, and debates around them by introducing students to a variety of literary texts translated from South Asian languages as well as films, geographically ranging from India and Pakistan to Sri Lanka. We will also read scholarship that will help us place the production and reception of these primary sources in historical, political, cultural, and religious contexts. In particular, we will examine questions of history and continuity (recurrent themes and images); form and genre (differences of representation in mythological narratives, poetry, biography, fiction, erotic/legal/medical treatises); the relationship of gender to sexuality (differences and similarities between representations of male-male and female-female relations); queerness as a site for exploring other differences, such as caste or religious difference; and questions of cross-cultural and transnational dialogue and cultural specificity.
Context, R2HR

Women and Islam

HMRT 27601
Maliha Chishti, (Public Policy)
T/Th: 12:30 - 1:50 PM
Cross lists: RLST 27601, GNSE 27608, GNSE 37608, ISLM 37601, GLST 27601

This course is an introduction to the field of women, gender, and Islam. We will examine the literature on Islamic legal, historical, Quranic and sacred textual constructs of women as well as critically explore the lived realities and experiences of Muslim women living in Muslim-majority societies and in the west. In centering the work of Muslim feminist scholars, students will gain an understanding of the contemporary debates around women's rights, sexuality, roles, responsibilities and gender relations in the context of Islamic law and the hadith literature. The discursive constructions and social realities of Muslim women are critically examined through historic and literary representations, ethnographic accounts, human rights discourses, sexual politics and secular and Islamic feminism(s). Moreover, this course situates Muslim women as complex, multidimensional actors engaged in knowledge production and political and feminist struggles, as opposed to the oppressed, victim-centered images that have regained currency in the representation of Muslim women in the post 9/11 era.
Context, R2HR

The Transnational Refugee Regime

HMRT 28753
Lindsay Gifford, (Pozen Center)
T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM

The right to flee persecution and seek international protection has been codified in international Human Rights and customary law. This course will examine the contemporary transnational refugee regime that has developed around and been informed by this particular rights discourse, particularly in the aftermath of WWII. We will examine various transnational conventions and bodies intended to protect the persecuted, proposed de jure and de facto durable solutions for refugees, and how individuals and communities experience these structures during and after displacement. We also investigate the ways that the transnational refugee regime and its partners (such as NGOs and civil society organizations) are deeply imbricated in broader global power structures and dynamics, creating protections "gaps" and potential rights violations. Specific refugee case studies from around the world will be surveyed in order to contextualize and ground these inquiries.
Context, R2HR

Winter Quarter 2024 | Human Rights Courses

Human Rights in World Civilizations II

HMRT 10200
Cross list: 24901

T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM, Mark Bradley, (Pozen Center)
T/Th: 11:00 AM - 12: 20 PM, Ben Laurence, (Pozen Center)
T/Th: 12:30 - 1:50 PM, Savitri Kunze, (Pozen Center)
T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM, Chiara Galli, (Comparative Human Development)
T/Th: 3:30 - 4:50 PM, Nory Peters, (Pozen Center)

Four thematic clusters structure the second quarter. "Migration, Minorities, and Refugees" examines minority rights, the evolution of legal norms around refugees, and human trafficking. "Late Twentieth Century Human Rights Talk" explores the contestations between rights claims in the political-civil and socio-economic spheres, calls for sexual rights, and cultural representations of human rights abuses. "Global Justice" considers forms of international criminal law, transitional justice, and distributive justice. "Indigenous Rights as Human Rights" takes up the relatively new domain of the rights of indigenous peoples and how they relate to contemporary human rights practice.

This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. These courses must be taken in sequence. If not used to satisfy the civilizations requirement, this course may be used to satisfy electives requirements in any of the five streams.

Treating Trans-: Practices of Medicine, Practices of Theory

HMRT 12103
Paula Martin, (Comparative Human Development, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality)
T/Th: 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
Cross lists: GNSE 12103, ANTH 25212, HIPS 12103, HLTH 12103, CHDV 22100
R2HR, Theory

Medical disciplines from psychiatry to surgery have all attempted to identify and to treat gendered misalignment, while queer theory and feminisms have simultaneously tried to understand if and how trans- theories should be integrated into their respective intellectual projects. This course looks at the logics of the medical treatment of transgender (and trans- more broadly) in order to consider the mutual entanglement of clinical processes with theoretical ones. Over the quarter we will read ethnographic accounts and theoretical essays, listen to oral histories, discuss the intersections of race and ability with gender, and interrogate concepts like "material bodies" and "objective science". Primary course questions include: 1. How is "trans-" conceptualized, experienced, and lived? How has trans-studies distinguished itself from feminisms and queer theories? 2. What are the objects, processes, and problematics trans- medicine identifies and treats? How is "trans-" understood and operationalized through medical practices? 3. What meanings of health, power, knowledge, gender, and the body are utilized or defined by our authors? What relations can we draw between them?

The Declaration of Independence

HMRT 17950
Eric Slauter, (English., Divinity School, Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture)
T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM
Cross lists: ENGL 17950, FNDL 27950, HIST 17604, LLSO 27950, SIGN 26039
Context, Theory

This course offers an extended investigation of the origins, meanings, and legacies of one of the most consequential documents in world history: the Declaration of Independence. Primary and secondary readings provide a series of philosophical, political, economic, social, religious, literary, and legal perspectives on the text's sources and meanings; its drafting, circulation, and early reception in the age of the American Revolution; and its changing place in American culture and world politics over nearly 250 years. (1650-1830, 1830-1940) In addition to the noted class times, there will also be discussion sections to be scheduled once the class begins.

Global-Local Politics

HMRT 20116
Terry N. Clark, Sociology
M/W: 4:30 - 5:50 PM
Cross lists: SOCI 20116, PBPL 27900, SOCI 30116, HMRT 30116, LLSO 20116, GEOG 20116, GEOG 30116
Context, Theory

Globalizing and local forces are generating a new politics in the United States and around the world. This course explores this new politics by mapping its emerging elements: the rise of social issues, ethno-religious and regional attachments, environmentalism, gender and life-style identity issues, new social movements, transformed political parties and organized groups, and new efforts to mobilize individual citizens.

Human Rights:  Contemporary Issues

HMRT 21001
Susan Gzesh, (The College)
T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM
Cross lists: SOSC 21001, HIST 29304, LLSO 21001, LACS 21001, CHST 21001, CRES 21001
Crisis, R2HR

This course examines basic human rights norms and concepts and selected contemporary human rights problems from across the globe, including human rights implications of the COVID pandemic. Beginning with an overview of the present crises and significant actors on the world stage, we will then examine the political setting for the United Nations' approval of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948. The post-World War 2 period was a period of optimism and fertile ground for the establishment of a universal rights regime, given the defeat of fascism in Europe. International jurists wanted to establish a framework of rights that went beyond the nation-state, taking into consideration the partitions of India-Pakistan and Israel-Palestine - and the rising expectations of African-Americans in the U.S. and colonized peoples across Africa and Asia. But from the beginning, there were basic contradictions in a system of rights promulgated by representatives of nation-states that ruled colonial regimes, maintained de facto and de jure systems of racial discrimination, and imprisoned political dissidents and journalists. Cross-cutting themes of the course include the universalism of human rights, problems of impunity and accountability, notions of "exceptionalism," and the emerging issue of the "shamelessness" of authoritarian regimes. Students will research a human rights topic of their choosing, to be presented as either a final research paper or a group presentation.

Health and Human Rights

HMRT 21400
Renslow Sherer, MD, (Medicine) Evan Lyon, MD, (Partners in Health)
T: 9:30 - 10:50 AM (Lecture) Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM (Discussion Sections 1 -6)
Cross lists: MEDC 60405, HMRT 31400, HLTH 21400
SOC, HUM, and Crisis

This course attempts to define health and health care in the context of human rights theory and practice. Does a "right to health" include a "right to health care"? We delineate health care financing in the United States and compare these systems with those of other nations. We explore specific issues of health and medical practice as they interface in areas of global conflict: torture, landmines, and poverty. Readings and discussions explore social determinants of health: housing, educational institutions, employment, and the fraying of social safety nets. We study vulnerable populations: foster children, refugees, and the mentally ill. Lastly, does a right to health include a right to pharmaceuticals? What does the big business of drug research and marketing mean for our own country and the world?

Philosophy and Philanthropy

HMRT 21499
Reynolds Barton Schultz, (Philosophy)
M/W: 1:30 - 2:50 PM
Cross lists: PHIL 21499, MAPH 31499, PLSC 21499
Theory, Crisis

Perhaps it is better to give than to receive, but exactly how much giving ought one to engage in and to whom or what? Recent ethical and philosophical developments such as the effective altruism movement suggest that relatively affluent individuals are ethically bound to donate a very large percentage of their resources to worthy causes-for example, saving as many lives as they possibly can, wherever in the world those lives may be. And charitable giving or philanthropy is not only a matter of individual giving, but also of giving by foundations, corporations, non-profits, non-governmental and various governmental agencies, and other organizational entities that play a very significant role in the modern world. How, for example, does an institution like the University of Chicago engage in and justify its philanthropic activities? Can one generalize about the various rationales for philanthropy, whether individual or institutional? Why do individuals or organizations engage in philanthropy, and do they do so well or badly, for good reasons, bad reasons, or no coherent reasons? This course will afford a broad, critical philosophical and historical overview of philanthropy, examining its various contexts and justifications, and contrasting charitable giving with other ethical demands, particularly the demands of justice. How do charity and justice relate to each other? Would charity even be needed in a fully just world? (A)

Suffering and Justice

HMRT 22668
Nory Peters, (Comparative Literature)
T/Th: 5:00 - 6:20 PM
Cross list: CMLT 22668
Transition, Theory

What is suffering, and how do we respond to it in a just way? This course explores the construction and circulation of understandings of suffering and justice through aesthetic representation, academic discourses, non-governmental organizations, and the law. We will consider how local and transnational contexts shape understandings of and responses to suffering, both historically and in the present. We will do so by attending to specific forms of suffering and their definitions (including trauma, corporeal violence, colonialism, and economic exploitation) and attempts to respond to these forms of suffering (through, for instance, human rights advocacy, humanitarianism, restorative justice, and revolutionary politics).

Human Rights BA Thesis Workshop II

HMRT 23473
Pedro Gerson, (Pozen Center)
Date/Time: TBA

American Wars and the 20th Century World (1900-1990)

HMRT 23516
Syrus Jin, Graduate Lecturer, (History)
T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM
Cross list: HIST 27210, GLST 23516
R2HR, Context

This course explores the history of American military power from the Spanish-American War to the end of the 1980s, focusing on the social, cultural, racial, and human rights aspects of the U.S. military and soldiering in the 20th century. This course will only lightly discuss military strategy and tactic, and instead focus on the broader array of issues which stem from American wars. The course will cover topics such as American military occupations, the desegregation of the Armed Forces, military justice and war crimes, and the rise (and fall) of human rights in American imaginations of war. We will be concerned with questions such as the relationship of the military to state-building in the U.S. and abroad, war as a state-making and race-making mechanism, and the importance of human rights and justice within imaginations of American military power. This course seeks to understand how war and peace shaped the history of the United States in the twentieth century, and the role of grassroots actors in defining the nature of war.

Human Rights Field Work

HMRT 23921
Pedro Gerson, (Pozen Center)
T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM

This course prepares students to relate the academic study of human rights to human rights practice. It will provide training in human rights monitoring, analysis, documentation (including the use of photography and videography), the use of public information and records, intervention and capacity building, trauma informed research, effective storytelling in human rights advocacy, effective interview techniques, stakeholder mapping, statistical analysis in R, mapping technologies and GIS. Importantly, this course will also address the 'ethics' side of field work, including principles of do no harm as well as self-care, which is so critical to human rights work.

Global Challenges to Human Rights: The right to health in the age of pandemics and AI

HMRT 24638
Brian Citro, (Pozen Center)
T/Th: 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
Hum, Soc, Crisis

The right to health is enshrined in over 130 national constitutions and many international treaties. Going beyond a right to health care, the right to health encompasses freedoms, such as privacy and informed consent, and other kinds of entitlements, like the right to accurate health information. This course will critically review the global state of the right to health in the age of pandemics and artificial intelligence (AI), examining normative developments, judicial opinions, research, and case studies from advocates worldwide. The course will consider the advantages and limitations of rights-based approaches to combating and preparing for pandemics, including COVID-19, and leveraging AI technologies for public health, such as large language models and other clinical decision support tools. The course will take stock of the human right to health as we stand at the convergence of dramatic advances in health technologies and unique vulnerabilities in the face of global pandemics.

Human Rights: Migrant, Refugee, Citizen

HMRT 24701
Susan Gzesh, (The College)
Fri: 9:30 AM - 12:20 PM
Cross lists: LACS 25303, SOSC 24701, SSAD 44701, LLSO 24701, HMRT 34701, CRES 24701
Crisis, R2HR

The fundamental principle underlying human rights is that they are inherent in the identity of all human beings, regardless of place and without regard to citizenship, nationality, or immigration status. Human rights are universal and must be respected everywhere and always. Human rights treaties and doctrines mandate that a person does not lose their human rights simply by crossing a border. While citizens enjoy certain political rights withheld from foreigners within any given nation-state, what ARE the rights of non-citizens in the contemporary world? Students will research a human rights topic of their choosing, to be presented as either a final research paper or a group presentation.

Documentary Production II

HMRT 25107
Marco Ferrari, (Cinema and Media Studies)
W/F: 1:30 - 4:20 PM
Cross lists: CMST 23931, HMRT 35107, ARTV 33931, ARTV 23931, CMST 33931, MAAD 23931, CHST 23931

Documentary Production II focuses on the shaping and crafting of a non-fiction video. Enrollment will be limited to those students who have taken CMST 23930 Documentary Production I. The class will discuss issues of ethics, power, and representation in this most philosophical and problematic of genres. Students will be expected to write a treatment outline detailing their project and learn about granting agencies and budgeting. Production techniques will concentrate on the language of handheld camera versus tripod, interview methodologies, microphone placement including working with wireless systems and mixers, and lighting for the interview. Post-production will cover editing techniques including color correction and audio sweetening, how to prepare for exhibition, and distribution strategies. Consent of instructor is required to enroll.

Human Rights Capstone Practice Workshop II

HMRT 25318
Pedro Gerson, (Pozen Center)
Day/Time: TBA

This two-quarter long course exists to support 4th year students who are on the practice intensive capstone track. Students will meet every other week to plan and receive help executing their projects from inception to completion. At every step, student will receive feedback from their peers and from the Director of Practice. The workshop will also likely involve training, including trauma informed research methodology, media strategy, and other topics as relevant. This course is 0 credits in Autumn Quarter and 100 credits in Winter Quarter.

Climate Justice

HMRT 25706
M/W: 1:30 - 2:50 PM
Cross lists: RLST 25706, RDIN 25706, ENST 25706, GLST 25766, GNSE 25702, PBPL 25706, CEGU 25706, KNOW 25706
Crisis, R2HR

Climate injustice includes the disproportionate effects of climate change on people who benefit little from the activities that cause it, generally the poor, people of color, and people marginalized in other ways. Given the complex economic, physical, social, and political realities of climate change, what might climate justice entail? This course explores this complex question through an examination of classical and contemporary theories of justice; the gendered, colonial, and racial dimensions of climate change; and climate justice movements.

Digitizing Human Rights

HMRT 25900
Jennifer Spruill, (The College), Nicholas Briz, (Cinema and Media Studies)
W: 3:30 - 6:20 PM
Cross lists: BPRO 25900, MAAD 25900
Theory, Transition

In an era in which disruptive technologies have hijacked our consciousness and computer code has woven itself into the fabric of our existence, the lines between the virtual and the physical are increasingly blurred, and the nature of human existence itself increasingly uncertain. Digitizing Human Rights invites you to ponder, question, and even reshape the future of the species. We'll consider digital surveillance, data consent, access to tech, online agency, algorithmic bias and the future of artificial intelligence, among other topics. Drawing on cross-disciplinary perspectives, the course aims to illuminate the often misunderstood aspects of the digital age with the goal of creating an annotated digital document to serve as a blueprint for steering humanity towards a more equitable and just -- and perhaps a more secure -- future. Annotations will draw on a broad array of philosophical traditions and contextualize current issues and debates. We will also problematize the document itself to build into our work a consideration of the digital form through which we are thinking and representing claims about humanity, morality, truth, and justice, for example, that are entailed in the project of "human rights." The class will meet both in small groups and the larger seminar to refine the provisions and annotations, review progress, and shape the document as a whole.

Revolution, Dictatorship, & Violence in Modern Latin America

HMRT 26409
Brodwyn Fischer, (History)
T/Th: 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
Cross lists: HIST 26409, LACS 26409, HIST 36409, LACS 36409, DEMS 26409, ENST 26409
Context, Transition

This course will examine the role played by Marxist revolutions, revolutionary movements, and the right-wing dictatorships that have opposed them in shaping Latin American societies and political cultures since the end of World War II. Themes examined will include the relationship among Marxism, revolution, and nation building; the importance of charismatic leaders and icons; the popular authenticity and social content of Latin American revolutions; the role of foreign influences and interventions; the links between revolution and dictatorship; and the lasting legacies of political violence and military rule. Countries examined will include Guatemala, Cuba, Chile, Argentina, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Mexico. Assignments: Weekly reading, a midterm exam or paper, a final paper, participation in discussion, and weekly responses or quizzes.

Legal Borderlands: Spaces of Exceptions in US History

HMRT 27321
Savitri Kunze, (Pozen Center)
W: 9:30 AM - 12:20 PM
Cross list: GLST 27321
Context, R2HR

The periphery of the United States is not only made up of physical borderlands but also of legal interstitial zones, places that test the reach of American sovereignty. This discussion-based seminar will look at places where American law bumps up against other defining markers, the contact zones that challenge the prevalent legal paradigms. We will examine how these areas define what constitutes an American; how the government makes specific identities within its jurisdiction visible and invisible. Topics we will cover include: statelessness and denaturalization, American extraterritorial courts in China, gender and sexuality under the law, outlawing "coolies," the insular cases and citizen-subjects, and Guantanamo Bay, not to mention the making and unmaking of physical borderlands around the United States.

Game Theory I

HMRT 29102
Monika Nalepa, (Political Science)
T/Th: 11:00 AM- 12:20 PM
Cross lists: PLSC 30901, PLSC 29102
Theory, SOC

The origins of game theory in social science reach back to the arms race at the height of the cold war. Since then, its applications have expanded, to include regime change, civil war conduct, and dealing with legacies of violations of human rights in the form of transitional justice. Recognizing the importance of this method in studying human rights and the proliferation of research in this area, this class will introduce human rights majors to the toolkit of game theory. Game theory analyzes strategic interactions between groups and individuals in an attempt to explain and predict how they behave “in equilibrium.” We will cover several equilibrium concepts, including the Nash Equilibrium and the Subgame Perfect Nash Equilibrium.

Postcolonial Openings: World Literature after 1955

HMRT 34520
Darrel Chia, English Language and Literature
T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM
Cross lists: ENGL 38619, ENGL 28619, GNSE 24520, GNSE 34520, MAPH 34520, CRES 28619
Context, Transition

This course familiarizes students with the perspectives, debates, and attitudes that characterize the contemporary field of postcolonial theory, with critical attention to how its interdisciplinary formation contributes to reading literary works. What are the claims made on behalf of literary texts in orienting us to other lives and possibilities, and in registering the experiences of displacement under global capitalism? To better answer these questions, we read recent scholarship that engages the field in conversations around gender, affect, climate change, and democracy, to think about the impulses that animate the field, and to sketch new directions. We survey the trajectories and self-criticisms within the field, looking at canonical critics (Fanon, Said, Bhabha, Spivak), as well as reading a range of literary and cinematic works by writers like Jean Rhys, E.M. Forster, Mahasweta Devi, Derek Walcott, Arundhati Roy, and Salman Rushdie). (20th/21st)

Spring Quarter 2024 | Human Rights Courses - TBA