International Studies | Human Rights/Social Movement: International Perspective
I204 | 14830 | Lloyd, P.

Course Synopsis:
This class will serve as an introduction to the issue of human
rights and the social movements
that affect them. Human rights are those rights to which all
individuals are entitled to in order to
ensure their dignity. These rights are an international phenomenon.
When they take place only
within a society, disputes and conflicts over basic rights are
generally just discussions about civil
rights. It is generally when they attract international attention or
involve international action that
we begin to talk of human rights. Therefore all of the issues we
will deal with in this course
involve action across borders and relations among countries.
Our primary issue will be human rights. We will address social
movements in light of
that topic. Social movements play both a role in realizing human
rights, for instance through the
work of transnational organizations like Amnesty International, but
they are also often associated
with gross violations of human rights, as is the case with violent
independence movements or
The class will not only consider contemporary dilemmas in human
rights, such as
humanitarian intervention, but also historical questions such as how
we can explain progress in
human rights such as the end of the slave trade and the creation of
laws of war. A recurrent
theme will be how human rights are understood differently at
different times in history and in
different geopolitical contexts. Our concerns will be both empirical
and normative. We want to
understand how human rights have evolved over time, where they have
been respected and
where they have been violated and why. But we also want to grapple
with ethical questions such
as how much of a concern human rights should be in America’s foreign
policy, or whether there
is a universal definition of what rights to which all individuals
are entitled.
Although I will make some introductory remarks to set the stage for
each session, most of
this class will be organized as a seminar in which participation is
crucial. As a consequence,
doing the course reading before class is required for your success
in this class (and the success
of the class itself). I have done my best to make the readings
provocative, interesting, and brief,
even if they might sometimes be difficult. You will read not only
academic articles written by
scholars, but also pieces by practitioners and the actual texts of
some of the most important
treaties in the human rights field.
This class provides multiple assessment opportunities but also
requires diligence and
responsibility in keeping a calendar of due dates. You will be
penalized for late assignments
(1/3 letter grade/day) so please use the OnCourse calendar to record
and keep track of due
dates. Your grade will be made up of the following components:
• 20% Participation and Attendance: Because much of the learning in
this class will take
place through in-class discussion, I expect you to attend every
class meeting. I will take
attendance and your attendance record will become part of your class
participation grade.
Greater than 3 absences will result in 1/3 grade reduction (e.g., an
A becomes an A-) for
EACH day over 3 days regardless of the reason. I expect everyone
(including me) to
come to class prepared, having read and thought about the assigned
readings for the day,
AND bringing a copy of each summary posted on OnCourse the night
Participation will be in lieu of quizzes so if you do not
participate, your grade will suffer.
I am interested in quantity, with quality being assessed according
to evidence that you
have read and reflected upon the reading. This is not a fudge
factor. If you don’t talk, you
can not get an A in this course. But if you participate in class
regularly (one contribution
to each class discussion) in a way that clearly shows that you are
following the reading,
you will be fine.
• 10% Discussion leader: Each student must sign up by the second
week to be a
discussant leader for one day and turn in a paper with a summary of
the readings (no
more than 6 pages). The paper will be graded. It should be
analytically organized as
follows: summarize the major issues in the readings, the alternative
answers given, the
empirical support for these, and your own conclusion. You must
provide a list of
discussion questions and guide the discussion on the day you are the
discussion leader. If
you are absent, it will result in a letter grade reduction, e.g., it
is not enough to post, you
must actively lead the discussion. You must post no later than 6pm
the day before the
class in which they will be discussed. You must post these online.
*Note: You may want
to sign up for topics related to your presentation.
• 20% for 4 Weekly summaries (5% each). Due no later than 6pm the
day before the
class in which they will be discussed. You must post these online.
These papers should be
approximately 2-3 pages (double-spaced) in length. Part of the
assignment is to help the
discussion leader lead the discussion, so your grade will be reduced
if you are absent on
the day your posting is due.
• 10% Foreign newspaper reading journal: Due the first Wednesday of
each month.
o Choose a foreign newspaper in the language of your study and
follow it
throughout the course of the semester, finding pieces relevant to
the course. Keep
a journal in which you summarize in a short paragraph the articles
you find. For
this purpose you can interpret human rights broadly to encompass
issues such as
criminal justice or poverty.
o Aim for one article and summary each week for a total of 15 by the
end of the
o I will grade you simply on your diligence in following the news.
• 20% Short paper/Take home Midterm Exam
Write a short paper based on a book to be assigned.
• 20% Class presentation and group project: Roughly six groups of
five students will
team together as advocacy groups pushing for a particular
humanitarian cause from the
past or present. They might either be indigenous groups appealing
for help from outside
or transnational human rights groups. In either case, their task
will be to develop an
action campaign to educate us about a particular issue and urge us
to act. This will
include a history of the issue and a remedy for its accomplishment.
They must take into
account the particular characteristics of the audience so as
to “frame” the issue in the
most advantageous way with the means available to them at the
particular time period
they are supposed to have been acting. This is an opportunity to
gather in-depth academic
information about a social movement or human rights topic that you
have been interested
in and to apply the concepts learned in this class to the movement.
This will also provide
an opportunity to begin your capstone thesis project. In your
presentation consider the
theoretical approaches to social movements and human rights; the
history of the social
movement (its key grievances, what rights or improvements it
demands); key figures and
developments since its beginnings; and the role of the national and
communities. Presentations should involve some media and should last
about 45 minutes
to an hour. You can consult with me or the International Studies
Librarian, David
Oldenkamp, for some reading sources to get started. I will provide
more specific
instructions in the weeks before the presentations
o The issues to choose from are: the “disappeared” in Argentina;
uprisings in East Germany and Poland; apartheid in South Africa; the
of former Chilean president Pinochet from Britain; humanitarian
intervention in
Darfur; the status of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay; women’s rights
genital mutilation, honor killings, dowries, equal access to
education in
developing countries, sex slaves, sweatshops, bonded laborers);
children’s rights
(sweatshops, sex slaves, bonded laborers); and the US labor movement.
You can choose your own group (best if you choose based on similar
interests in a
geographic area, topic or both). There are group evaluation forms
and suggested roles
which you can adapt to fit your group needs. In order to ensure
everyone is participating
in their group, you will hand in progress reports so that I can
gauge your progress and
help you where you may need it and to ensure that you are working on
this throughout
the semester. You should meet at least 4 times during the semester
and then prepare a 1-2
page progress report. Listed below are the due dates for the
progress reports, an outline of
the content for each report, and the dates of the presentations.
Each progress report should be cumulative; the final report should
include an
annotated bibliography, a thorough outline of the presentation, a
summary of your
findings, a list of your multimedia. On the day of your
presentation, you must provide me
with a copy of your ppt presentation and a group evaluation form.
All other
members of the class must provide a written evaluation by 5pm the
day after the
There are NO exceptions to this assignment. If you do not work with
a group, you
will receive a “0” for this portion of the class.
Required format:
Title: Group Number; Full name of group members; Region of Country;
Content: CUMULATIVE summary of EACH report. This means if group
members take
turns preparing the report, the individual creating the report must
make a copy for EACH
group member in addition to the copy to ME. The next report will
BEGIN with the prior
report and ADD to this. By the end, each member should have a
complete and
substantive proposal with a full bibliography.
Progress Report #1:
Provide the tasks you have assigned and who is doing what.
Progress Report #2:
Discuss group members’ progress on the tasks
Present the bibliography of materials you will use in your
Your bibliography should include at least: 5
o 2 theoretical pieces (social movements or human rights)
o 2 books
o 2 academic articles
o Other sources from the popular media (newspapers) and/or websites
as well as
movies (feel free to present a movie or video clip as part of your
Progress Report #3:
Provide a summary of your findings, the highlights (each person
should report so that
everyone’s contribution is clear)
Progress Report #4:
Decide the presentation structure, outline the presentation
Decide who will present, what kind of multimedia you will use (will
you play a video
clip? Use powerpoint? Overheads?).