Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies (CHRHS)

Courses

Spring 2022 courses focusing on human rights and humanitarian issues for undergraduate students


POLS 1500: The International Law and Politics of Human Rights 

Introduces students to the law and politics of international human rights; examines the construction of an international human rights regime and its influence on international politics. Will survey the actors and organizations involved in the promotion of human rights around the globe, as well as the obstacles. Will review 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; genocide, torture, women's rights, humanitarian intervention, and the international criminal court. POLS 0400 strongly encouraged as a prerequisite.


POLS 1822U: War and Human Rights

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. Topics include child soldiers, war crimes, humanitarian intervention, torture, targeted killings, humanitarianism, and the international justice. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors concentrating in Political Science or International Relations.


IAPA 1200: Foundations of Security 

This course presents an interdisciplinary approach to the study of security. This means we examine the notion of what constitutes security from a variety of disciplinary perspectives that may not always agree or overlap. Specifically, in addition to political science, the course draws on recent work in evolutionary psychology, biological anthropology and behavioral economics to examine existing problems, issues and questions in security studies. The goal of this course is to investigate the extent to which various disciplinary models and methods can help to further inform or develop the study of security. Substantive applications include a wide variety of empirical methods.


ANTH 2320: Anthropology and Development: Critical Ethnographic Perspectives

This course examines international development from a comparative ethnographic perspective. The class is organized around the premise that the intertwining of political, economic, and cultural processes is central to explaining the emergence and influence of the very concept of “development,” the extent of popular aspirations for and dissatisfaction with development, and the successes and failures of development programs. The syllabus is structured around a number of broad development themes, such as population, public health, gender, governance, inequality, and humanitarian and refugee issues, with readings selected to represent a wide range of regions and cases. In addition, the anthropological lens is turned back on development institutions, as students will also read ethnographic accounts of Western development agencies.


HIST 0150D: Refugees: A Twentieth-Century History

Refugees are arguably the most important social, political and legal category of the twentieth century. This introductory lecture course locates the emergence of the figure of the refugee in histories of border-making, nation-state formation and political conflicts across the twentieth century to understand how displacement and humanitarianism came to be organized as international responses to forms of exclusion, war, disaster and inequality.


POLS 1225: The Politics of Nuclear Weapons

This advanced undergraduate lecture course examines the history and politics of the world’s most destructive weapons. It is an introduction to the nuclear age, including how nuclear weapons work, the causes and consequences of the spread of nuclear weapons technology, and the basic strategies of the nuclear powers. Students will emerge with a working knowledge of the role of nuclear weapons in international politics and the future of managing this dual-use technology.


POLS 1435: Politics of Climate Change

Climate change is arguably the most important global challenge in the 21st century. It will reshape weather patterns, storms, sea levels, and agricultural output worldwide. Mitigating climate change will require massive economic transformations, affecting energy, transportation, and industrial sectors. What are the politics of that transformation? What are the political forces obstructing it? How do social movements, institutions, and economic interests interact to shape the national and global response to climate change? This course offers answers and insights, primarily from the perspective of political science. It also draws on knowledge from other disciplines.


IAPA 1804N: Democracy and Capitalism in the Post-colonial World

The literature on democracy has largely been dominated by work on Western democracies. The goal of this class is to closely examine democracies in the post-colonial world and in doing so to re-examine dominant theories of democracy. Drawing on theoretical, critical and empirical writings, we examine the origins, trajectories and current challenges of democracies in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. We examine the core institutions of democracy, but also the array of social forces and civil society actors that have shaped post-colonial democracies. The course draws on both the sociology and political science literatures. All students will be expected to develop and write a research paper on a topic of their choice.


POLS 1820F: Black Protest: Theory and Praxis

This course explores the theory and praxis of black protest in the Americas, which were formulated in response to the different racial orders that developed in the U.S. and Latin America. We will analyze how black populations mobilized to escape slavery, resist racial terror and white supremacy, gain rights from the state, protect black life, and overcome various forms of dehumanization. Examples will include anti-lynching campaigns in the U.S., the civil rights and other black movement of the 1960s, the Black Lives Matter movement, and mobilizations against “black genocide,” police violence, and displacement in Brazil and other Latin American countries.


POLS 1822H: Corruption and Governance Across Democracies

In recent years, the issue of "governance" has attracted increasing attention. Why are some countries more corrupt than others? Why do some governments distribute government programs equitably, while others manipulate them for political ends? The purpose of this class is to characterize, examine, and, to the extent possible, explain the persistence of these "bad governance" practices in many democracies in the developing world. We will draw on examples from Latin America, Africa, and Asia, and we will also make comparisons with appropriate current and historical cases from Western Europe and the United States. Enrollment limited to 20 junior and senior Political Science concentrators.


CSCI 1860: Cybersecurity Law and Policy

Course description: Cybersecurity and cyber conflict pose unique legal and policy challenges for governments, companies and citizens. The way those problems are resolved will shape the future of the internet. This course will examine cybersecurity as a legal and policy problem. How can government and society address network and computer insecurity while upholding privacy, civil liberties and other fundamental values?


ENVS 0465: Climate Solutions - A multidisciplinary perspective

This seminar examines war and peace after 1945 through the context of international relations (IR) theory. It teaches students theoretical perspectives on IR and to critically evaluate the changing ways in which states have interacted with one another since the end of World War II. Was the Cold War inevitable? Did nuclear weapons change the way that states negotiated with one another? How much did individuals make a difference during diplomatic crises? Why did states sometimes fail to reach peaceful settlements with one another? How have social and economic institutions changed international politics in the twenty-first century?


IAPA 1804: Diplomacy, Crisis, War in the Modern Era

This seminar examines war and peace after 1945 through the context of international relations (IR) theory. It teaches students theoretical perspectives on IR and to critically evaluate the changing ways in which states have interacted with one another since the end of World War II. Was the Cold War inevitable? Did nuclear weapons change the way that states negotiated with one another? How much did individuals make a difference during diplomatic crises? Why did states sometimes fail to reach peaceful settlements with one another? How have social and economic institutions changed international politics in the twenty-first century?


HIST 1948: Global Palestine 

Palestine is often imagined as being locked into a national conflict with Israel over a territory slightly larger than the state of Vermont. This class seeks to break out of this framework, considering Palestine within larger—global, even—structures and processes of colonialism and decolonization; forced displacement and securitization; and shifting modes of temporality and spatialization. The goal is not only to provide useful and nuanced approaches to Palestinian history, but to use the histories of Palestine and Palestinians to examine more closely the workings and effects of global dynamics.


UNIV 1001: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Contested Narratives 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a central event in the history of the modern Middle East. We will compare the radically different narratives that Palestinians and Israelis tell themselves and others about their struggle over Palestine/Israel. Sources will include historical documents, memoirs, and accounts of the conflict by Israeli and Palestinian historians. We will read works of fiction and view films that present the story of the conflict from both perspectives. Attention will also be paid to efforts by Israelis and Palestinians to transcend their conflicting narratives and attain mutual understanding. All sources in English translation.