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.

>> Spring 2015 courses
>> Summer 2015 courses
>> Autumn 2015 courses

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


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.


Summer Quarter 2015: Human Rights Courses
June 22 - July 10, 2015

Human Rights III: Contemporary Issues in Human Rights
HMRT 20300

Cross-listed: HIST 29303, LLSO 27200
Susan Gzesh, Senior Lecturer in the College; Executive Director, PFCHR
Mon/Tue/Thurs: 2:00–5:30pm
This three-week condensed course uses an interdisciplinary approach to analyze the application of international human rights to domestic and international issues.


Autumn Quarter 2015: 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).

Slavery Since Emancipation
HMRT 25110/35110

Kevin Bales, Pozen Visiting Professor; Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, University of Hull, UK
Thu: 10:30-11:50am
In this course we’ll explore the recent history of slavery as well as global slavery in the present moment. Too often those who are concerned about, and making policy on, issues of human trafficking and modern slavery do so with little understanding of its recent history or its current extent. The result is a shallow view and equally shallow policies. In fact, there has never been a day in human history, or in the history of the USA, without slavery. The volume or prevalance of slavery may change, as well as the types and forms of slavery, but slavery is a constant. A key aim of this course is to ground our understanding of slavery, and to learn how ‘historical’ cases and types of slavery help us to better understand the slavery around us today.