Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Humanitarian Focused Undergraduate Courses

POLS 1824B Post-Conflict Politics (Fall 2016)

Instructor: Robert Blair

What, if anything, can the international community do to keep peace in countries wracked by civil war? Why does international intervention succeed in some countries but not others? How can war-torn societies overcome the myriad challenges inherent in post- conflict politics, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex- combatants; repatriation of refugees; transitional justice; and reconciliation of wartime adversaries. This senior seminar addresses these questions through a combination of case studies, in-class discussions and debates, and readings from a wide variety of academic, policy and philosophical sources. While there are no prerequisites for the course, some familiarity with quantitative data analysis will be useful.

POLS 1440 Security, Governance and Development in Africa (Fall 2016)

Instructor: Robert Blair

Some of the fastest-growing economies in the world now lie in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet Africa is also home to some of the world’s most corrupt and violent states. This course will provide a variety of lenses through which to view these and other paradoxes on the continent, with a focus on security, governance and economic development. Topics will include the long-term consequences of colonialism and the slave trade; the politics of independence; the causes and effects of crime, violence and civil war; democracy and democratization; the promise and pitfalls of foreign aid; and the challenges of building strong, stable states.

POLS 1500 The International Law and Politics of Human Rights (Fall 2016)

Instructor: Nina Tannenwald

This course introduces the law and politics of international human rights. It examines the gradual construction of an international human rights regime and its influence on international politics. Drawing on cases from around the world, the course surveys the actors and organizations involved in the promotion of human rights, as well as obstacles to such promotion. It reviews competing conceptions of human rights, whether human rights are universal, problems of enforcement, and the role of human rights in foreign policy. Major topics include civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; the laws of war, humanitarian intervention, transnational corporations, women's rights, and the international criminal court.

INTL 1803L Humanitarianism in Uniform (Fall 2016)

Instructor: Jennifer Greenburg

The goal of this senior seminar is to explore the relationship between militarism and humanitarianism. When the US Army and Marine Corps released the Counterinsurgency Field Manual in 2006, military officials referred to NGOs as ‘force multipliers’ and soldiers as ‘armed social workers.’ In this course, we will develop a framework to understand military humanitarianism. We will also examine how military humanitarianism exceeds the contemporary geography of terrorism, investigating cases in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

DEVL 1802S Human Security and Humanitarian Response: Increasing Effectiveness and Accountability (Spring 2017)

Instructor: Dr. Adam Levine

This course covers a diverse range of topics including the role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), UN agencies, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), local governments, and military actors in humanitarian response; the economic and political impacts of humanitarian aid; the evidence base for humanitarian interventions; the challenges of post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation; and the intersections between human rights and humanitarianism. (Syllabus)

POLS 1822U Seminar:  War and Human Rights (Spring 2017)

Instructor: Nina Tannenwald

How nations and their adversaries treat civilians and other non-combatants in wartime has become an increasingly central issue in global politics. This seminar will explore the intersection of armed conflict, human rights, and the laws of war (also known as the law of armed conflict or international humanitarian law).  Human rights and international humanitarian law are two bodies of law that provide a set of principles and rules guiding how nations are to treat their citizens in peacetime (human rights), and non-combatants, including prisoners of war, in wartime (laws of war). The “war on terror,” with its ill-defined battlefield and no clear endpoint, increasingly blurs the distinction between peacetime and wartime, and poses new challenges for both these bodies of law.  This seminar will begin by studying the rise and spread of the notion of human rights, examining some of the core debates over human rights, including their enforcement in times of war. It will then turn to the laws of war, focusing especially on the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the challenges posed to the Conventions by the rise of non-state actors wielding significant violence.  The seminar will focus especially on how civilians, prisoners and so-called terrorists are protected (or not) in times of war, and the politics and institutions of enforcement. Topics include child soldiers, war crimes, humanitarian intervention, torture, targeted killings, humanitarianism, and the international justice.

MES 1999E Displacement and Refugees in the Middle East (Spring 2017)

Instructor: Sarah A. Tobin

Displacement and refugees constitute one of the most significant sources of upheaval, instability, and uncertainty in our time. In 100 years, the Middle East saw waves of displaced persons, with no singular explanation and no end in sight: Armenians, Circassians, Palestinians, Iraqis, Yazidis, Kurds, and Syrians. The impetuses for displacement include wars, fall of empires and nations, crafting of new states, and modernization attempts and environmental disasters. These stories of displacement are distinctive for their multitude of causes and protracted defiance of resolutions. They challenge the narratives of the durability of nation-states, ascendancy of capitalism, and emplaced, “timeless” Arab populations.

MGRK 1210 A Migration Crisis? Displacement, Materiality, and Experience (Spring 2017)

Instructor: Yannis Hamilakis

In the past few years, we have all experienced, most of us through the media, what has been called a migration crisis. And yet, migration as a phenomenon did not appear in 2015; it is as old as humanity, and displacement and contemporary forced migration have also a long history. In this course, we will examine the historical, material and experiential dimensions of contemporary displacement and migration. Many of the examples will be from Greece but also other parts of Mediterranean and beyond, including from the Mexico-US border.