International Studies | Human Rights & Social Movements: International Perspectives
I204 | 5021 | Noy, S.


This International Studies core course is an introduction to basic
issues relating to human rights and social movements, emphasizing
the differing ways that these topics are addressed in various
disciplines and thought about within various global cultures.
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, but they are also often associated with
gross violations of human rights, as is the case with violent
independence movements or fascism.
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. In the
class, we work to understand how human rights have evolved over
time, where they have been respected and where they have been
violated and why. We will also grapple with ethical questions such
as whether there is a universal definition of what rights to which
all individuals are entitled, what policy may promote what kind of
human rights and in what context.