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 Vienna

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 2021-22 academic year are included below: 

Autumn Quarter 2021 courses
Winter Quarter 2022 courses
Spring Quarter 2022 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.  

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

Autumn Quarter 2021 | Human Rights Courses

Human Rights in World Civilizations I

HMRT 10100
Section 1: T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM, Johanna Ransmeier, Associate Profesor of History and the College, (History)
Section 2: T/Th: 12:30 - 1:50 PM, Paul Kohlbry, Postdoctoral Instructor, (Pozen Center)
Section 3: T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM, Ben Laurence, Associate Instructional Professor (Pozen Center)
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.

Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations

HMRT 21002
Ben Laurence, Associate Instructional Professor (Pozen Center)
Lecture: T/Th, 3:00 - 4:20 PM
Discussion Section 1: Fri, 9:30 -10:20 AM
Discussion Section 2: Fri, 10:30 -11:20 AM
Discussion Section 3: Fri, To be arranged with instructor
Cross-lists: HMRT 31002, HIST 29319, HIST 39319, INRE 31602, LLSO 21002, MAPH 42002, PHIL 21002, PHIL 31002

In this class we will 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. In the first weeks of the course, we begin by asking what rights are, how they are distinguished from other parts of morality, and what role they play in our social and political life. We will consider two theories of rights in general: the interest theory of rights and the second-personal theory of rights. 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 who attempt to answer this question, including James Griffin, Joseph Raz, John Rawls, John Tasioulas, 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?”

Militant Democracy and the Preventative State

HMRT 21005
Kathleen Cavanaugh, Executive Director, Senior Lecturer (Pozen Center & The College)
T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM
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.

Human Rights Research and Writing I

HMRT 22241
Nathaniel Gonzalez, Social Science Teaching Fellow (Sociology)
Date and Time: To be arranged with instructor

This course provides an introduction to human rights theory and method for students working on disciplinary or interdisciplinary BA thesis projects that examine human rights topics. Consent required. 

Human Rights on the Ground: Ethnographic Perspectives

HMRT 23145
Jay Henderson, (Anthropology)
W: 12:30 - 2:50 PM
Cross lists: ANTH 25272, CHDV 23145

The aim of this course is to investigate the ways in which ethnographers have dealt with questions of human rights and humanitarianism. While ethnography is the hallmark of anthropology, it has gained popularity in recent years in other fields of social science, from sociology to political science. Over the course of the quarter, we will discuss what makes a human rights ethnography and what we can learn about human rights from the perspective of ethnography. Rather than reading chapters and articles, we will focus on excerpts of full ethnographies. The purpose of this is to delve into the nitty-gritty details of living with (or without) human rights. We will discuss questions such as religious expression in Europe, LGBTQ+ experience in Ireland, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, gender in writing human rights law, humanitarian intervention, and poverty in Africa. Through reading these texts, students will not only learn about human rights from an ethnographic perspective, but they will also gain familiarity with ethnography as a genre.

Ethnic Conflict in Comparative Perspective

HMRT 23214
Nathaniel Gonzalez, Social Science Teaching Fellow, (Sociology)
M/W: 3:00 - 4:20 PM
Cross list: SOCI 20511

This course introduces students to contemporary debates on the significance and implications of group identification within the context of ethnic conflict. Specifically, students will come away from the course with a deep understanding of theories of group identity and will be able to use these theories to examine and compare contemporary cases of group-based violence. We will use these theories to ask questions like: are diverse societies more prone to group violence? what is the relationship between the economy and group conflict? and, what causes neighbors turn on each other? Throughout the course students will be exposed to research from around the globe, encouraging a deeply local but constantly comparative approach to social science. Note that we will grapple with difficult issues in this course such as lynching, ethnic riots, and genocide.

International Human Rights Law and Practice

HMRT 24823
Kathleen Cavanaugh, Executive Director, Senior Lecturer, (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.

The Transnational Refugee Regime

HMRT 28753
Lindsay Gifford, Assistant Research Professor, (Pozen Center)
T/Th: 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM

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.

Autumn 2021 | Cross-Listed Courses

What Is Socialism? Experiences from Eastern Europe

HMRT 12600
Michaela Appletova, (History)
T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20- PM
Cross lists: HIST 12600, GLST 22600, GNSE 12600

Human Rights: Contemporary Issues

HMRT 21001
Susan Gzesh, Senior Lecturer (The College)
Lecture: M/W, 4:30 - 5:50 PM
Cross-lists: HIST 29304, LLSO 21001, LACS 21001,SOSC 21001

Ecocentrism and Environmental Racism

HMRT 21207
Bart Schultz, (Philosophy)
M/W: 1:30 - 2:50 PM
Cross lists: PHIL 21207, MAPH 31207, PLSC 21207, ENST 21207, CRES 21207, CHST 21207

Languages of Migration: Literature, Law, and Language Justice

HMRT 21648
Yael Flusser, (Comparative Literature)
T/Th: 12:30 - 1:50 PM
Cross lists: CMLT 21648, ENGL 21648

The Collective Self and Its Others in Contemporary Political Communities

HMRT 22737
Natacha Nsabimana, (Anthropology)
T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM
Cross lists: ANTH 22735, CRES 22735

Water Water Everywhere?

HMRT 24193
Susan Gzesh, Senior Lecturer (The College) 
Fri: 9:30 AM - 12:20 PM
Cross lists: ARTH 24193, CHST 24193, SOSC 21005

Immigration, Law and Society

HMRT 25003
Angela Garcia, (Crown Family School of Social Work)
T/Th: 3:30 - 4:50 PM
Cross lists: SSAD 25003, PBPL 25003, CRES 25003, SOCI 28079, LACS 25003

Documentary Production I

HMRT 25106
Judy Hoffman, (Cinema Studies)
T/Th: 11:00 AM - 1:50 PM
Cross lists: CMST 23930, CMST 33930, ARTV 33930, ARTV 23930, HMRT 35106, MAAD 23930

How (Not) to Save the World: The History of International Development

HMRT 29432
Elizabeth Chatterjee, (History)
T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM
Cross lists: HIST 29431,GLST 29431

Winter Quarter 2022 | Human Rights Courses

Human Rights in World Civilizations II

HMRT 10200
Section 1: T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM, Nathaniel Gonzalez, Social Science Teaching Fellow, (Pozen Center)
Section 2: T/Th: 12:30 - 1:50 PM, Lindsay Gifford, Assistant Research Professor, (Pozen Center)
Section 3: T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM, Ben Laurence, Associate Instructional Professor (Pozen Center)
Cross list: SOSC 24901

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.

Health and Human Rights

HMRT 21400
Renslow Sherer, Professor in the Department of Medicine–Infectious Diseases and Global Health, Evan Lyon, Illinois Director, Partners in Health
T - Lecture: 9:30 - 10:50 AM
Th - Discussion Sections: 1 - 4, Th, 9:30 - 10:50 AM
Cross-lists: HMRT 31400, HLTH 21400

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?

Human Rights Research and Writing II

HMRT 22242
Alice Kim, Director of Human Rights Practice, Pozen Center for Human Rights
Time: TBA
Consent Required

This course provides an introduction to human rights theory and method for students working on disciplinary or interdisciplinary BA thesis projects that examine human rights topics.

Sanctuary: Land Rights in Times of Rural Gentrification and Conservation Eviction

HMRT 23128
Matt Furlong, Social Science Teaching Fellow
T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM
Cross lists: CRES 23129, LACS 23128

How, today, do the power not to develop land and powerlessness to develop land converge? Drawing on African American studies scholar Nicole Waligora-Davis's definition of sanctuary (as a sacred space that at the same time also "demarcates the politically provisional") this course explores that question via the entanglements of two iconic sites of sanctuary, globally, today-the wildlife sanctuary/nature refuge and the sanctuary city, respectively. Centered on several book length ethnographic studies where these sites intersect in surprising manners, students will learn to grasp and grapple with linkages between environmental conservation governance, indigenous/peasant-led land struggles, forced population displacements, the politics of mass migration in a diverse set of global contexts.

Land and Rights

HMRT 23415
Paul Kohlbry, Postdoctoral Instructor, (Pozen Center)
M/W: 1:30 - 2:50 PM
Cross list: GLST 23415

What are land rights? Why are they so ubiquitous, and what do they do? In this course, we will study how regimes of individual and collective rights emerge and analyze the complicated ways they shape conflicts over private property, geopolitical borders, ancestral homes, and common land. Each section of the course examines how land is at the heart of economic development, territorial sovereignty, gender equality, or environmental policy, and explores how rights can both enable justice and redistribution as well as dispossession and exclusion. Course readings consist of ethnographic studies and engaged research that foreground how experts and laypeople make claims to land and show us what effects theories, laws, and narratives about rights have when people put them to work in the world.

Human Rights in China

HMRT 24007
Teng Biao, Visiting Professor, (Pozen Center) Johanna Ransmeier, Associate Professor of History and the College, (History)
W: 3:00 - 5:50 PM
Cross lists: HMRT 34007, HIST 24516, HIST 34516, EALC 24517, EALC 34517

This seminar explores the diverse range of human rights crises confronting China and Chinese people today. Co-taught by Teng Biao, an internationally recognized lawyer and advocate for human rights, and University of Chicago China historian Johanna Ransmeier, this course focuses upon demands for civil and political rights within China. Discussions will cover the Chinese Communist Party's monopoly on power, the mechanisms of the Chinese criminal justice system, and the exertion of state power and influence in places like Tibet, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Taiwan, as well as the impact of the Peoples Republic of China on international frameworks. We will discuss the changing role of activism, and the expansion of state surveillance capacity. Students are encouraged to bring their own areas of interest to our conversations. Throughout the quarter we will periodically be joined by practitioners from across the broader human rights community.

Advanced Topics in the Philosophy of Human Rights

HMRT 24751
Ben Laurence, Associate Instructional Professor (Pozen Center)
M/W: 3:00 - 4:20 PM
Cross lists: HMRT 34751, PHIL 24751, PHIL 34751

In this course we will explore new and cutting edge philosophy of human rights. We will focus on three new books: Allen Buchanon's The Heart of Human Rights, Andrea Sangiovanni Human Rights without Dignity, and Pablo Gilabert's Human Rights and Human Dignity. Using these texts we will explore debates about questions like the following: does human dignity really provide the foundation for human rights? What is the relationship of human rights to equality and egalitarianism? What is the role of international human rights law in setting the agenda for the philosophy of human rights? How contextual are human rights norms? How does the theory of human rights relate to the practice of human rights?

Islam, Politics and Gender

HMRT 25118
Hannah Ridge, Postdoctoral Scholar, (Pozen Center)
M/W: 3:00 - 4:20 PM
Cross lists: GNSE 25118

This course examines the relationship Islam and politics with a focus on gender and sexuality. For this class, politics is broadly construed, including religious law, family law, social issues, and war. Gender is an inextricable part of Islamic law, and the connection between Islam and the state pervades scholars' understanding and interpretation of political development in the Muslim world. While many texts and discussions will focus on women, gender is considered expansively. We will consider the role of sex in religious law, as well as sexual identity, gender identity, and sexual orientation. We will also incorporate areas outside of the Islamic "heartland" of the Middle East, such as Europe and Asia.

Anthropological Approaches to Human Rights

HMRT 28215
Matt Furlong, Social Science Teaching Fellow, (Pozen Center)
T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM
Cross lists: CRES 28215

How do human rights-based frameworks help people and societies solve problems of contemporary life? And do they always help? If not, how do human rights regimes also help generate new problems in contemporary life? For decades, anthropologists have used the concept of the "problem space" to help unpack how people and societies grasp rules and norms of all kinds as not simply sacred truths, but as tools used by people in search of resolution to some problem. By taking up human rights practices as social spaces in which people try to resolve problems, but also end up fragmenting, rationalizing, or otherwise remaking those original problems at times, this course unpacks key anthropological approaches to a central moral-legal framework of contemporary geopolitics. Students in the course will engage the contemporary 'human rights problem space' through a set of primarily ethnographic readings, as they consider how and why global social movements for land rights, sexual rights, and rights to mobility (among others) have become entangled with human rights frameworks in specific places and times.

Winter Quarter 2022 | Cross-Listed Courses

Global-Local Politics

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

Human Rights:  Contemporary Issues

HMRT 21001
Susan Gzesh, Senior Instructional Professor, (The College)
M/W: 3:00 - 4:20 PM
Cross lists: HIST 29304, LLSO 21001, LACS 21001, SOSC 21001, CHST 21001

Global Human Rights Literature

HMRT 21748
Nory Peters, Comparative Literature
Time: TBA
Cross lists: CMLT 21748, CRES 21748

Rethinking Europe through Romani Studies

HMRT 23614
Roy Kimmey III, (History)
T/Th: 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
Cross lists: HIST 23614, CRES 23614, GRMN 23614, REES 23614

Human Rights: Migrant, Refugee, Citizen

HMRT 24701
Susan Gzesh, Senior Instructional Professor, (The College)
Th: 5:00 -7:50 PM
Cross lists: LACS 25303, SOSC 24701, SSAD 44701, LLSO 24701

Documentary Production II

HMRT 25107
Instructor: TBA
T/Th: 11:00 AM - 1:50 PM
Cross lists: CMST 23931, HMRT 35107, ARTV 33931, ARTV 23931, CMST 33931, MAAD 23931, CHST 23931

United States Legal History

HMRT 27061
Amy Dru Stanley, Associate Professor of History, Law and the College
W: 3:30 - 6:20 PM
Crosst lists: HIST 27605, LLSO 29704, AMER 27605, CRES 27605, GNSE 27605

Racialization and the Racial Project of the American Immigration System

HMRT 27546
Ilana Ventura, Sociology
T/Th: 2:00 -3:20 PM
Cross lists: CRES 27546, SOCI 28093

Gender and Sexuality in Modern Europe

HMRT 29431
Michaela Appeltova, Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences, (Sociology)
T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM
Cross lists: HIST 23406, GLST 23407, GNSE 23491

Postcolonial Openings: World Literature after 1955

HMRT 34520
Darrel Chia, (English Language and Literature)
M/W: 1:30 - 2:50 PM
Cross lists: ENGL 38619, ENGL 28619, GNSE 24520, GNSE 34520, MAPH 34520, CRES 28619

When Cultures Collide: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies

HMRT 35600
Richard A. Shweder, Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor, (Comparative Human Development)
W: 9:30 AM - 12: 20 PM
Cross lists: CHDV 45699, PSYC 45300, ANTH 45600, KNOW 45699, GNSE 45600, CHDV 25699

International Human Rights

HMRT 37700
Thomas Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar, Professor of Political Science, (Law School)
M. W, Th: 9:35 - 10:40 AM
Cross lists: LLSO 23262, PLSC 56101, PPHA 38752

Spring Quarter 2022 | Human Rights Courses

Human Rights I in Vienna: The Philosophy of Human Rights:  Concepts and Challenges

HMRT 20102
Daniel Brudney, Florin Harrison Pugh Professor, (Philosophy)
Time: TBA

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 II in Vienna: The Politics of Law: Human Rights in Times of Crisis

HMRT 20201
Kathleen Anne Cavanaugh, Executive Director of the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, and Senior Professor (Instrl) in the College
Time: TBA

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.

Human Rights III in Vienna: Human Rights and Civil Rights in Theory and Practice

HMRT 20301
Jane Dailey, Professor of American History, the Law School, and the College, (History)
Time: TBA

This interdisciplinary course presents a practitioner's overview of human rights problems as a means to explore the utility of human rights norms and mechanisms, as well as the advocacy roles of civil society organizations, legal and medical professionals, traditional and new media, and social movements. The Vienna edition of the course will expose the students to issues in contemporary human rights relevant to Europe today. Topics will include the relationship between rights and citizenship in contemporary Europe, the balance between rights and security (including the prohibition against torture), and the recognition of children's rights as human rights.

Reimagining Justice in the Chicago Police Torture Cases

HMRT 22217
Alice Kim, Director of Human Rights Practice, (Pozen Center for Human Rights)
T/Th: 3:30 - 4:50 PM
Cross lists: CHST 22217, CRES 21217

From 1972 to 1991, former Chicago police commander Jon Burge and white detectives under his command systematically tortured over 117 Black people in police custody. In May 2015, 43 years after the first known instance of torture, Chicago became the first municipality in the U.S. to provide reparations to those harmed by racially-motivated law enforcement violence, passing legislation for survivors of the Burge police torture regime. This course explores the evolution of decades of community activism and creative organizing undertaken in the Jon Burge torture cases. We will consider the following questions: What do these cases and the activism surrounding them reveal about policing and the criminal legal system? What role did torture survivors and those directly impacted by Burge torture play in struggles for justice? How can we reimagine systems of justice and accountability? How can society reckon with legacies of state violence and their ongoing impact in communities today?

Encountering AIDS: Queer Representations, Loss, and Memory

HMRT 23000
Sarah McDaniel, Graduate Lecturer, (English)
T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM
Cross lists: HLTH 23134, GNSE 23137

This course asks us to approach the representation and history of the HIV/AIDS pandemic through the lens of encounter. We will engage with a wide array of queer aesthetic, activist, and documentary artifacts produced in the 1980s and 1990s, attending to the multitudinous ways in which they respond to this ongoing emergency, and complicating received accounts of AIDS as a threat of the past. We will ask: What kinds of projects - artistic, educational, documentary, activist - do works and objects from the "archive of AIDS" envision? How do these objects challenge dominant popular cultural depictions of helpless "AIDS victims" and irresponsibly "promiscuous" gay men? What encounters did queer writers, artists, activists, journalists, archivists, academics, policy-makers seek to enact in their specific contemporary circumstances, and what encounters do their works invite and demand in our own present? In addressing these questions, we will contend with the traumatic loss of life within queer communities in the first decades of the pandemic, the rupture of intergenerational queer community, and the elision of these losses in the so-called "post-AIDS era" of the 21st century.

Ethnic Conflict in Comparative Perspective

HMRT 23214
Nathaniel Gonzalez, Social Science Teaching Fellow, (Pozen Center for Human Rights)
M/W: 1:30 - 2:50 PM
Cross lists: SOCI 20511, HMRT 33214

This course introduces students to contemporary debates on the significance and implications of group identification within the context of ethnic conflict. Specifically, students will come away from the course with a deep understanding of theories of group identity and will be able to use these theories to examine and compare contemporary cases of group-based violence. We will use these theories to ask questions like: are diverse societies more prone to group violence? what is the relationship between the economy and group conflict? and, what causes neighbors turn on each other? Throughout the course students will be exposed to research from around the globe, encouraging a deeply local but constantly comparative approach to social science. Note that we will grapple with difficult issues in this course such as lynching, ethnic riots, and genocide.

Justice: Race, Digital Media, & Human Rights Activism

HMRT 23275
Maria Dikcis, Postdoctoral Researcher, Mass Incarceration and Policing Fellow, (Pozen Family Center for Human Rights)
T/Th: 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
Cross lists: HMRT 33275, MAAD 13275, CRES 23275, CRES 33275

How have digital media platforms influenced and motivated recent developments in human rights activism? Can literature, art, and film contribute to political debate and systemic change as much as on-the-ground protest? In this interdisciplinary seminar, we will explore a variety of ways that grassroots activists, writers, artists, and filmmakers have made inventive use of digital media to aid in political struggles for refugee rights, gender equality, environmental justice, police abolition, data protection and privacy, and an economy founded on fair labor practices. We will be especially attuned to how their practices advocate for communities of color and other marginalized groups, who are disproportionately impacted by regimes of surveillance, state violence, and capitalist expansion. In addition to resources and tools created by digital transparency activists, we will examine how cultural practitioners make political interventions and claims with literature, art, media, and other nontraditional forms of engagement. These cultural case studies will include films produced with iPhones and drones that document the global refugee crisis, digital poems concerning discrimination against immigrants, new media art installations that critique algorithm-driven predictive policing, and border-crossing robotic sculptures, among others.

Decarcerating Disability: Towards the Abolition of Carceral Spaces

HMRT 23478
Jasbir K. Puar, Visiting Professor, (Pozen Center for Human Rights)
W: 10:30 AM - 1:20 PM
Cross lists: CRES 23478, GNSE 23478

This advanced undergraduate seminar will bring together several literatures to foreground solidarities between disability justice, prison abolition movements, and anti-imperialist transnational organizing. The imperative to understand the relationships between carceral spaces and disability is greater than ever in the face of the rise of authoritarian governments under the guise of democracy; engulfing forms of disaster capitalism, climate change, and ecocide; refugee, immigration, and crises of abandoned populations; unprecedented levels of mass incarceration, policing, and counter terrorism surveillance; the consolidation of post-1971 speculative financial markets and the sustaining of US empire through privatized debt and deficit economies; repression of political protest, freedom of speech rights, and the right to assembly; the failure of human rights to stem state violence; and local, regional, transnational and global modes of resistance, refusal, and revolt.

Constructing Groups: Ethnicity, Race, Religion and Nationality

HMRT 23491
Nathaniel Gonzalez, Social Science Teaching Fellow, (Pozen Center for Human Rights)
T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM
Cross lists: HMRT 33491, SOCI 20527, CRES 23491

Our social structure is built from groupings ranging from the most arbitrary to the most serious. We are divided by the color of our skin, the beliefs we hold, our gender, where we were born, our political parties, and more arbitrary distinctions like the schools we attend or the sports teams we support. These categories can be ways to express ourselves and meet with likeminded people, but they can also shape our relationships to others and even determine the value society places in of our lives. This class draws on scholarship from philosophy, psychology, sociology and beyond, to investigate this habit of groupism. We will read work by authors ranging from Georg Simmel and WEB Du Bois to Rogers Brubaker and Charles Tilly. Our seminar will use these texts to discuss how and why we construct groups, understand the hierarchies that they establish, and the lasting inequalities that they perpetuate. The class will draw heavily from examples of group hierarchies in the United States, but we will also look more broadly at group hierarchies in general and at examples from elsewhere in the world.

Race, Decolonization, and Human Rights in the 20th Century

HMRT 23526
Muhammad Usama Rafi, Graduate Lecturer, (Pozen Center for Human Rights)
M/W: 1:30 - 2:50 PM
Cross lists: CRES 23526, GLST 23526

This course draws on a wide range of materials including historical secondary literature, primary sources, works of political theory on Black political thought, and post-colonial literature and film. Topics will include the colonial civilizing missions of the 19th century, the history of self-determination as an idea, the international repercussions of Apartheid, violent and negotiated decolonization in East Africa, post-colonial migration to Europe and the racialized politics of deportation, among others. The primary geographic focus of this course is on Africa.

Democracy: Athens and America

HMRT 23561
Hannah Ridge, Postdoctoral Scholar, (Pozen Center for Human Rights)
T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM
Cross list: 33561

What does it mean for a country to be a democracy? Political scientists and historians say that the Athenians invented democracy, but their government looked very different from the democracies we see in the world today. How can understanding democracy as it was conceived and practiced in ancient Greece contribute to our own understanding and practice of democracy? Does modern democracy fulfill the promise of ancient democracy, or betray its fundamental tenets? Have we improved on an ancient idea or invented a new form of government? In this class, we will explore these questions primarily through a comparative study of Athenian and American democracy. Class discussion will also draw on democracy in other countries and democracy building. We will examine institutional elements of democratic governance and the intersectional challenges faced in a government "by the people and for the people" in a global environment, such as issues of race, gender, slavery, war, and empire.

Human Rights in the Middle East

HMRT 23825
Lindsay Gifford, Assistant Research Professor, (Pozen Family Center for Human Rights)
T/Th: 11:00 AM - 12: 20 PM
Cross list: HMRT 33825

This seminar explores the broad range of human rights struggles, concerns and activism in the contemporary Middle East region. The class will examine human rights issues posed by authoritarian, dictatorial and single-party state formations in the Middle East particularly by looking at the effects of internal security apparatuses, mechanisms of state violence, and struggles for political participation and liberty. We explore ongoing indigenous struggles for recognition and autonomy, such as the Kurdish, Sahrawi and Amazigh cases, while also contextualizing the region's complex history of colonial and neocolonial interventions by force and their human rights implications. We will examine the varied roles that non-state actors play in Middle Eastern human rights spheres, from militias to NGOs to religious and communal structures. The course will look to local actors and movements to explore forms of resistance, struggle, and social change while maneuvering through often highly-constrained political spaces. We pay particular attention to marginalized communities by looking at the rights struggles of minorities, women, children, migrant workers, the disabled, and the LGBTQ+ community in Middle Eastern contexts. Personal Status Laws and their effects on rights, especially with regard to marital relations and parental rights are considered. Interdisciplinary and varied modes of knowledge production including film serve as source materials.

Indigenous Rights and Capitalism

HMRT 24253
Paul Kohlbry, Postdoctoral Instructor in Human Rights, (Pozen Center for Human Rights)
M/W: 1:30 - 2:50 PM
Cross lists: ENST 24253, ANTH 24253, CRES 24253, GLST 24253

This course explores how indigenous rights emerge in relation to the uneven incorporation of indigenous land, labor, and commodities into global circuits of capital. Whether in racist discourses about primitiveness or backwardness, or romantic ones about environmentalism and resistance, it is still common to encounter narratives that assume indigenous people and places exist outside of modernity. This course, on the other hand, asks that we think indigeneity and capitalism together. Readings will consist primarily of ethnographies and cover Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. We will study how Palestinian real estate developers, Cherokee small business owners, Mayan coffee cooperatives, Navajo coal workers, Lauje cultivators, and others use economic practices to defend territory, claim rights, and build communities. We will ask how these experiences contribute to critiques of inequality and dispossession, and how they clarify what is at stake in struggles over autonomy, sustainability, and sovereignty.

Spring Quarter 2022 | Cross-Listed Courses

Race & American Public Schools

HMRT 21000
Eve Ewing, Associate Professor Crown Family School of Social Work, Associate Faculty Member, Sociology
T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM
Cross lists: SSAD 21000, EDSO 21000, CRES 21000

Human Rights:  Contemporary Issues

HMRT 21001
Susan Gzesh, Senior Lecturer, (The College)
T/Th: 9:30 - 10:50 AM
Cross lists: SOSC 21001, HIST 29304, LLSO 21001, LACS 21002, CHST 21001

Philosophy and Philanthropy

HMRT 21499
Reynolds Barton Schultz, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Director of the Civic Knowledge Project, (Philosophy)
T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM
Cross lists: PHIL 21499, MAPH 31499, PLSC 21499

Natural Law in the Hist of Scholastic Political Thought: Aquinas, Vitoria, Suárez, Hooker, Grotius

HMRT 22123
Steven Waldorf, Donnelley Postdoctoral Research Fellow, (History)
T/Th: 2:00 - 3:20 PM
Cross lists: HIST 22123, MDVL 22123, RLST 27123

Examining Historical Trauma: Intergen Resp. to Holocaust

HMRT 22812
Amelia Klein, Lecturer, (Crown Family School of Social Work)
T: 9:30 AM - 12:20 PM
Cross lists: SSAD 62812, SSAD 22812, JWSC 22812

Childhood, Migration, and Nation

HMRT 22855
Moodjalin Sudcharoen, Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences
T/Th: 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
Cross lists: ANTH 22855, GLST 22855, CHDV 22855

Chicago Film History

HMRT 25104
Judy Hoffman, Professor of Practice in the Arts, (Cinema and Media Studies)
12:30 - 1:50 PM
Cross lists: CMST 21801, HMRT 35104, CMST 31801, ARTV 26750, ARTV 36750, MAAD 18801, ARCH 26750

Digitizing Human Rights

HMRT 25900
Nicholas Briz, Lecturer, (Media Arts and Design)
Jennifer Spruill, Senior Lecturer, (The College)
M: 3:00 - 5:50 PM
Cross lists: BPRO 25900, MAAD 25900

The Rights of Immigrants and Refugees in Practice

HMRT 26813
Susan Gzesh, Senior Lecturer, (The College)
Fri: 9:30 AM - 12: 20 PM
Cross Lists: SOSC 24506, LLSO 24506, CHST 24506, GLST 24506

Illicit Religion: Contesting Religious Freedom under the Law in Modern America

HMRT 28005
Gregory Chatterley, Divinity School Teaching Fellow, (Divinity School and the College)
M/W: 10:30 AM - 12:20 PM
Cross lists: RLST 28005, AMER 28005, HIST 27120

Religion, Race, and Gender in the (Un)Making of American Mass Incarceration

HMRT 29051
Emily Crews, Divinity School Teaching Fellow, (Divinity School and the College)
W: 10:30 AM - 1:20 PM
Cross lists: RLST 29050, AMER 29050, ANTH 25219, CRES 29050, GNSE 29050, SSAD 29050, HIST 28005, SOCI 20543

Community Organizing

HMRT 34950
Jane G. Ramsey,Lecturer, (Crown Family School of Social Work)
Th: 2:00 - 4:50 PM
Cross lists: SSAD 48112, SSAD 28112, CHST 28112