Current Courses

The following is a list of Human Rights (HMRT) courses and cross-listed courses for the 2014-2015 school year. This list is subject to change. Please check the Registrar Time Schedules for the most up to date information each quarter.

>> Autumn Quarter 2014 courses
>> Winter Quarter 2015 courses

>> Spring Quarter 2015 courses

Please also check the College Course Catalog for a list of Human Rights courses offered each year.


Autumn Quarter 2014: Human Rights Courses

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

Cross-listed: HIST 29303/39303, INRE 31800, LAWS 78201, LLSO 27200
Susan Gzesh, Senior Lecturer in the College; Executive Director, Pozen Family Center for Human Rights
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.

Foundations of Human Rights
HMRT 30600

Cross-listed: HIST 67102, MAPS 30700, PHIL 31620, PLSC 31700
Adam Etinson, Lecturer in Human Rights, PFCHR; Visiting Assistant Professor, Philosophy
Tue/Thu: 1:30-2:50pm
Note: graduate students only
This seminar will provide graduate students with an advanced introduction to the study of human rights, covering key debates in history, law, philosophy, political science, international relations, social science, and critical theory. As a graduate seminar, this will be a small class (capped at 20 students), and a strong emphasis will be placed on in-class discussion and debate. The course will examine cutting-edge research on topics including: the origins of human rights (Section I); the concept of human dignity (Section II); the nature and grounds of human rights (Section III); the relationship between human rights morality and law (Section IV); the legality and morality of humanitarian intervention (Section V); the feasibility and claimability of human rights (Section VI); contemporary criticisms of human rights (Section VII); human rights and the accommodation of diversity (Section VIII); and the future of human rights (Section IX).

Perpetrators, Victims, & Bystanders:  Justice after Mass Atrocities
HMRT 29505/39505

Eric Stover, Pozen Visiting Professor in Human Rights; Faculty Director of the Human Rights Center and Adjunct Professor of Law and Public Health, University of California at Berkeley
Mon/Wed: 1:30-2:50pm
This seminar will use an interdisciplinary lens to examine how war, genocide, and terrorism have affected survivors, as well as the social and psychological factors that turn ordinary men and women into perpetrators. We will study the ways in which historians, psychologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, journalists, and jurists have contributed to our understanding of wartime atrocities and their effects on individuals and society from the Holocaust to post 9/11.

Artists Look at Women and War
HMRT 29506/39506

Cross-listed: GNSE 29506/39506
Pamela Blotner, Visiting Lecturer; Visiting Professor, St. Mary’s College
Mon/Wed: 9:00-10:20am
Throughout history, women have played a number of roles in wartime.  Female warriors like Boudica, the Celtic queen who made war on Nero’s Rome and the female Ashanti army of ancient Africa have become legends. Florence Nightingale and countless other women went to the battlefront as nurses, translators, and spies.  Women have often been victims of war crimes.  Among them are the thousands of Asian women forced to be “comfort women” to Japanese troops during WWII, and the Bosnian women interred in “rape camps” during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.  More recently American women have become full-fledged members of their armed forces, serving for the first time on the battlefield. 
This cross-disciplinary course will use an historical lens to examine how artists have portrayed women in wartime, and how those portrayals have evolved over time. We will discuss whether or not visual art can serve as an advocacy tool and a deterrent to war and the crimes committed against women.  The course will include a practicum component in which students will produce a final creative work, either in visual art or writing, about an issue to which they are especially drawn.

Autumn 2014 Cross-Listed Courses

Anthropology of Disability (MAPS 36900)
ANTH 20405/30405, CHDV 30405, HMRT 25210/35210, 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 (CMST 23930/33930)
ARTV 23930/33930, HMRT 25106/35106
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.


Winter Quarter 2015: Human Rights Courses

Human Rights II: History and Theory (HMRT 20200/30200)
Cross-listed: CRES 29302, HIST 29302, HIST 39302, INRE 31700, LAWS 41301, LLSO 27100
Michael Geyer, Samuel N. Harper Professor of German and European History and the College
Tue/Thu: 10:30-11:50am
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: Alien and Citizen (HMRT 24701/34701)
Cross-listed: LACS 25303, LAWS 62401
Susan Gzesh, Senior Lecturer in the College; Executive Director, PFCHR
Mon/Wed: 1:30-2:50pm
This course addresses how international human rights doctrines, conventions, and mechanisms can be used to understand the situation of the “alien” (or foreigner) who has left his or her country of origin to work, seek safe haven, or simply reside in another country. If human rights are universal, human rights are not lost merely by crossing a border. We use an interdisciplinary approach to study concepts of citizenship and statelessness, as well as the human rights of refugees and migratory workers.

Human Dignity (HMRT 26150/36150)
Cross listed: INRE 36150; LAWS 78203; PHIL 21625/31625
Adam Etinson, Lecturer in Human Rights, PFCHR; Visiting Assistant Professor, Philosophy
Tue: 3:00-5:50pm
This advanced undergraduate course will examine the notion of human dignity, with a special eye towards its role in contemporary human rights discourse. The course begins by tracing the historical development of the idea of human dignity both in philosophy and in law, and from there it moves on to examine contemporary usages. Questions to be examined include the following: What is the meaning of "human dignity"? Is it basic to morality? What is the relationship between human dignity and human rights? Does respect for human dignity require the abolition of capital punishment and/or the permission of assisted suicide, among other practices? Is it an inherently religious idea? What grounding might it have in secular ethics?

Health and Human Rights (HMRT 21400/31400)
Cross-listed: MEDC 60405
Dr. Renslow Sherer, Professor, Department of Medicine, Infectious Diseases and Global Health
Dr. Evan Lyon, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Hospital Medicine
Mon/Wed: 10:30-11:50am
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 in (Post)Conflict Settings (HMRT 22004)
Cross-listed: ANTH 25245; CHDV 26253; PBPL 22004
Erin McFee, Graduate Lecturer, PFCHR
Jonah Rubin, Graduate Lecturer, PFCHR
Tue/Thu: 10:30-11:50am
This course is designed to introduce students to the specific human rights issues that come into play in the wake of authoritarian regimes, civil wars, and other violent conflicts. Over the course of the quarter, students will learn about the specific legal mechanisms governments, international agencies, and NGOs use to address the challenges of (post)conflict peacebuilding, debate the goals and best practices for addressing human rights after violent conflict, and evaluate the application of such policies from different perspectives, including those of the state, victims, ex-combatants, and the dead. Students will apply these lessons through policy and analytic papers and presentations for a case study of their choosing.

Winter 2015 Cross-Listed Courses

Documentary Production II (CMST 23931/33931)
Cross-listed: ARTV 23931/33931, HMRT 25107/35107
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 finishing techniques. Students then screen final projects in a public space.

After Evil (INST 20412)
Cross-listed: HMRT 20412, PLSC 20412
Rohit Goel, Graduate Lecturer; Preceptor, PFCHR
Mon: 1:30-4:20pm
This course will analyze understandings of justice in “post-conflict” societies. We will critically examine the theoretical literature on “transitional justice” to investigate how, after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, scholars and citizens alike have relegated evil to the past, permanently deferred justice to the future, and framed the present as a time between wrong and right. The class will investigate the political effects—on nationalism, sovereignty, and citizenship—of the dominant, post-Cold War discourse of human rights through a variety of cases, including post-war America, Germany, South Africa, Yugoslavia, and Lebanon. The course will be structured by a detailed reading of Robert Meister’s recent work, After Evil: A Politics of Human Rights (2010).  A series of secondary readings drawn from disciplines such as political theory, history, philosophy, jurisprudence, and theology will augment the exposition of the core text. This course will enable students to think critically about the uniquely post-Cold War temporality of evil and justice, when evil’s end, far from precipitating justice, postpones it indefinitely.

The Right to the City in Latin America (LACS 26615)
Cross-listed: HMRT 26615
Emilion de Antunano Villarreal
Tue/Thurs: 10:30-11:50am
This course will explore one simple, yet crucial, question: Have twentieth-century Latin America cities constituted spaces of emancipation and inclusion or spaces of political and social exclusion? At the heart of this question lies the paradox of millions of people consistently and willingly migrating into cities often characterized by gross inequality, poverty, and political oppression. Dealing with these matters asks for an understanding of several historical processes–global and rural-urban migration, urbanization, and demographic growth–that have transformed Latin American societies from rural communities into urban ones. But answering the normative side of the question additionally demands an understanding of the historicity of political concepts such as citizenship, equality, democracy, and human rights, without which we cannot make a reckoning of twentieth-century Latin American cities.

When Cultures Collide (ANTH 45600)
Cross-listed: CHDV 45600, HMRT 35600, PSYC 45300, GNSE 45600
Richard Schweder, Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Human Development
Wed: 9:30am-12:20pm
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.
Advanced undergraduates may enroll with permission from instructor.

Advanced Legal Research: Foreign and International Law (LAWS 79803)
Cross-listed: HMRT 39803
Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Lecturer in Law
Thurs: 9:45-11:45am
See instructor or department website for course description.

International Human Rights Law (LAWS 96101)
Cross-listed: HMRT 37700, PLSC 56101
Thomas Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law and Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago
Mon/Wed/Thurs: 1:30-2:35pm
See instructor or department website for course description.


Spring Quarter 2015: Human Rights Courses

Human Rights I: Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights
HMRT 20100/30100

Cross-listed: HIST 29301/39301, INRE 31600, LAWS 41200, LLSO 25100, MAPH 40000, PHIL 21700/31600
Ben Laurence, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy and the College
Mon/Wed Lecture: 1:30-2:50pm
Discussion Groups: Fridays, 9:30-10:20am or 12:30-1:20pm
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 and Human Diversity
HMRT 26151/36151

Cross-lists: CRES 26151/36151, CHSS 36151, LLSO 26151, GNSE 26151/36151, HIPS 26151, MAPH 36151, MAPS 32600, PHIL 21701/31621
Adam Etinson, Lecturer in Human Rights and Visiting Assistant Professor in Philosophy
Tue/Thurs: 1:30-2:50pm
It is no secret that human beings frequently disagree on matters both large and small. Our neighbors hold religious beliefs that we do not. They disagree with us on scientific matters, such as the reality of climate change. They have different life priorities. And they have moral intuitions that often differ strikingly from our own. At the level of whole communities, these differences seem to grow even starker. The highly visible ideological conflicts between the nations of Western Europe and North America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia on matters of religious freedom, freedom of expression, democracy, gender equality, gay rights, and the rights of children serve as a constant reminder of this. This is the reality in which defenders and practitioners of human rights have to operate. And it is therefore important to think about how these disagreements and differences should impact both our understanding and implementation of human rights, if at all. That is the aim of this course. 

Gender, Crime and Human Rights
HMRT 29504/39504

Cross-lists: GNSE 29504/39504, LLSO 29504
Monica McWilliams, Pozen Visiting Professor in Human Rights; Associate Researcher, Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster
Tues/Thurs: 3:00-4:20pm
The course uses an analytical framework to help students understand the specific context in which gender based crimes occur. The interplay between the legal and social dimensions, as well as cultural factors, will be examined through a series of local and international case-studies. The multi-dimensional aspects of gender specific crimes will be addressed highlighting the importance of risk assessment for both the victims and offenders. Variations in institutional and community responses in countries experiencing or transitioning from conflict will also be examined. The relevance of international human rights standards and the current discourse on human security will be a central focus of the course.

Indigenous Human Rights and Development in Latin America
HMRT 23090
Cross-lists: ANTH 23090, CHDV 23090, LACS 23090
Eric Hirsch, Graduate Lecturer
Tue/Thurs: 10:30-11:50am
This course examines and historically contextualizes the intersections of recent tendencies in development intervention and indigenous human rights throughout the Latin American region. It does so through a focus on how two contemporary transnational tendencies have converged particularly sharply in today’s Latin America: what Bolivian scholar Xavier Albó has called “the return of the Indian”—describing the region’s dramatic surge in indigenous movements around questions of empowered political identity and human rights at the end of the twentieth century—and what Ananya Roy has labeled “the financialization of development”—characterized by the idea that economic development should best be achieved through investing in the poor, and an increasingly complex entanglement of development initiatives with credit institutions bolstered by the argument that credit itself is a human right. To what extent do indigenous human rights mean the right to develop, or to not? What is it about Latin America that has made it a crucible for theories of and policies on development and indigenous rights? What might exploring the way these themes have come together in Latin America tell us about the region itself? And what does the Latin American context teach us about what it means to “develop,” what it means to be “indigenous,” and what it means to have “rights”?

Technologies of Retribution and Reconciliation: Human Rights, Democracy, and the Search for Accountability and Truth
HMRT 22005
Cross-lists: CRES 22005, SOCI 28066
Louisa McClintock, Graduate Lecturer, PFCHR
Tues/Thurs: 9:00-10:20am
How should governments and societies address legacies of wide-scale human rights violations perpetrated by prior authoritarian/totalitarian regimes? Does there exist a moral or legal imperative to punish such acts or is it simply better to and move on with the project of building a stable democratic successor regime? In the event that a regime is unable or unwilling to address legacies of past human rights abuses, what role can and should the international community play in seeking justice for aggrieved communities?
This course explores these questions through the lens of various “technologies of retribution and reconciliation” that have developed in a variety of countries around the world since the second half of the 20th century, including national and international criminal trials, truth commissions, lustration, restitution, and commemoration. In doing so, it traces how the evolution and increasing institutionalization of the "international human rights regime” (and international criminal justice, more generally) has influenced the domestic-level implementation of these “technologies of retribution and reconciliation.” Finally, in addition to exploring how various state, non-state, and civil society actors attempt to reconstruct and rebuild social norms and community in the wake of episodes of state criminality and mass violence, this course assesses how the design of these various “technologies” and the actors involved in their creation and administration affect their performance, paying particular attention to instances in which competing normative goals are at stake.

Spring Quarter 2015 Cross-Listed Courses

Chicago Film History (HMRT 25104/35104)
CMST 21801, CMST 31801, ARTV 26750, ARTV 36750
Judy Hoffman
Wed: 7:00-10:00pm Screening
Tue/Thurs: 12:00-1:20pm
Contact department or instructor for course descriptions

Worker Rights in the Global Economy (HMRT 27100)
PBPL 26630
Virginia Parks
Wed: 1:30-4:20pm
Contact department or instructor for course descriptions

Poverty Law and Policy Reform (HMRT 29120)
PBPL 20120
Andrew Hammond
Tue/Thurs: 6:00-7:20pm
This seminar seeks to give students a comprehensive understanding of the major anti-poverty programs in the United States with an emphasis on current challenges and reform proposals. We will spend the first half of the course exploring the implementation and evaluation of the programs that make up the traditional safety net for poor Americans: income supports, health insurance, and housing assistance. We will spend the rest of the quarter exploring topics that complicate the traditional social policy regime, including how the safety net is more robust for some groups, such as the elderly and veterans, than others. We will explore how the legal systems of immigration and incarceration hamper anti-poverty policy and how safety net programs address the needs of rural and Native Americans. Finally, we will investigate two recent developments in the field: social entrepreneurship and the critique of procedural rights. 

Feminist Philosophy (HMRT 31900)
LAWS 47701, PHIL 31900, PLSC 51900, RETH 41000, GNSE 29600
Martha Nussbaum
Mon, Wed, Thurs: 1:30-2:35pm
Contact department or instructor for course descriptions

Community Organizing (HMRT 34950)
SSAD 48112
Virginia Parks
Thurs: 9:00-11:50am
Contact department or instructor for course descriptions

Structuring Refuge: U.S. Refugee Policy and Resettlement Practice (HMRT 36922)
SSAD 46922
Jessica Darrow
Tue: 9:00-11:50am
In 2012 there were over 45.2 million people forcibly displaced from their homes around the world, the highest number since 1994. Over 15 million registered refugees were among those displaced, and of these just 89,000 were admitted to third countries for permanent resettlement. Worldwide the United States is by far the largest resettlement country, in 2012 the U.S resettled 58,000 refugees. With so many vulnerable people in the world, and so few options for their safe resettlement, there is a risk that entry to the U.S. can be seen as an end in and of itself. What is more, refugees in the U.S. get a relative leg up over their immigrant counterparts, refugees are entitled to an array of federal, state, and local supports that other immigrants in the U.S. must do without. At the same time, refugees in the U.S. are arguably subject to greater scrutiny and systems of social control than any other domestic population. This course asks the central question, how does the system of refugee resettlement operate in the U.S., and with what implications for refugees? We will begin by detangling the web of international and domestic policies that relate to the refugees’ political identity, and then focus in on the U.S. system of resettlement. We will analyze the structure of resettlement policy and explore its implications for social work practice with this population with special attention to issues such as employment, mental health, child and youth development, and aging. Finally we will identify various ways that social workers can support this population as they navigate their entry to the United States.