Pre-College Programs
Leadership Institute

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Human Rights: Leadership & Action

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

The language of human rights has become a dominant part of the global discourse over the past two decades. Almost all governments today invoke the language of human rights to justify their (in)actions in world politics, while a growing chorus of activists and non-governmental organizations lament their violation on a daily basis. Meanwhile, debates and controversies rage on in academic and policy circles regarding the meaning and scope of human rights: What are human rights and why should individuals and groups enjoy special rights and privileges over states? Are some rights more basic than others, and what compelling interests, if any, would justify their violations?

This course aims to provide students with a set of conceptual and analytical tools to acquire a deeper and more nuanced understanding of topics in human rights. Among the specific topics we will be examining are consideration of the rights of civilians in wartime (e.g. bombing of German and Japanese cities in World War II), the treatment of political prisoners (e.g. right to due process, protections against torture and other bodily harms), social and economic rights (e.g. freedom from hunger and the right to basic subsistence), cultural relativism and human rights (e.g. ending gender and ethnic discrimination), and the rights of refugees and displaced persons (e.g. from the Balkans to the Middle East and Subsaharan Africa).

As a capstone for the course, students will develop Action Plans to address current human rights issues such as: women's rights, poverty, death penalty, unlawful detention and torture, indigenous rights, and refugees and migrant's rights.