Dr. Brad Simpson, Assistant Professor of History and International Affairs
Spring 2011 Woodrow Wilson School
WWS 556E Human Rights History and Practice
Wednesday 7-10pm, Robertson 014
Office: 112 Dickinson; email email@example.com
Course Description and Objectives: This class will examine human rights in modern international history and practice. It will explore the emergence and spread of human rights ideas, institutions, debates and activism from historical, philosophical, legal, and cultural perspectives. Together we will consider the roots of human rights ideas in political theory and philosophy in the pre-20th century period, the emergence of human rights as a transnational idea in the last century, the institutionalization of humans rights norms in the United Nations and other international bodies, debates over the universality of human rights, human rights and U.S. foreign policy and human rights in the context of processes of ‘globalization’ and state responses to terrorism. The literature on human rights is vast, so we will not pretend to offer comprehensive coverage. Rather, we will strive to explore a wide range of contemporary human rights problems and challenges confronted by policymakers and the NGO sector from an historical perspective, utilizing sources and scholarship from a variety of different disciplines – history, political science, anthropology, law and public health.
This will be a discussion-based class. Class participants will be responsible for introducing and helping to facilitate discussion on the readings each week. A sign-up sheet will be circulated for students to choose which weeks they would like to lead the discussion. Participants will also write several short take home essays on topics related to the history of human rights history and contemporary practice. Finally, over the course of the semester, students will write a Research Paper (18-20 pp) exploring a question of interest in human rights history and practice.
Sample Readings :
Richard Pierre Claude and Burns H. Weston, Editors, Human Rights in the World Community
Issues and Action(2006)
Quataert, Jean H. Advocating Dignity: Human Rights Mobilizations in Global Politics (2009).
Roger Normand and Sarah Zaidi, Human Rights at the UN: The Political History of Universal Justice (2008)
Kathryn Sikkink, Mixed Signals: U.S. Human Rights Policy And Latin America (2004)
Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (1999)
Global Justice: The Politics of War Crimes Trials, Kingsley Moghalu(2008)
Priscila Haynor, Unspeakable Truths: Transitional Justice and the Challenge of Truth Commissions (2010)
International Commission of Jurists, Assessing Damage, Urging Action: Report of the Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-terrorism and Human Rights (2009)
Paul Farmer, Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor (2003)
Almost all other readings and case studies will be available on blackboard and can be accessed by going to the "Course Documents" section.
The final grade will assess each class participant's ability--as reflected in written and oral work--to draw and defend historical conclusions, to think historically, and to apply that thinking to the contemporary issues raised in the course. This will break down roughly along these lines:
Short essays: 25%
Class participation: 25%
Class project: 50%