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


2019-2020 courses focusing on human rights and humanitarian issues

PHP 1802S Human Security and Humanitarian Response: Increasing Effectiveness and Accountability

Adam Levine (SPRING)

Disasters, natural and anthropogenic, pose significant threats to human security. Effective humanitarian action is important for both short and long-term responses to complex emergencies. The array of factors contributing to the economic and human losses experienced in both natural disasters and complex humanitarian emergencies are vast and complicated, and the strategies employed to mitigate and heal the damage caused by these disturbances must be equal to the task. This course covers diverse topics including the role of NGOs, UN agencies, local governments, peacekeepers and military in humanitarian response; economic impact of humanitarian aid; the evidence base for humanitarian interventions.

HIST 0150D Refugees: A Twentieth-Century History

Vazira Zamindar (SPRING)

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.

HIST 0285A Modern Genocide and Other Crimes against Humanity

Instructor TBD (SPRING)

This lecture course explores genocide and other crimes against humanity across the world during the 20th century. We will discuss the origins of modern genocide in the transition to modernity and subsequent conceptualizations of this phenomenon; review examples of colonial, imperial, racial, communist, anti-communist, and post-colonial genocides; discuss war crimes and other mass crimes perpetrated by authoritarian regimes; and consider policies of mass deportation and ethnic cleansing. This course will conclude with a discussion of attempts by the international community to prevent and punish genocide along with various ways in which genocide has been commemorated or denied.

ECON 1430 The Economics of Social Policy 

Emily Foster (SPRING)

This course will cover research topics in the economics of social policy. The course will focus on understanding the context for key social policies in health, education, social welfare and other areas as well as understanding the methods that economists use to generate causal impacts of these policies.

POLS 1440 Security, Governance, and Development in Africa 

Robert Blair (SPRING)

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.

SOC 0150 Economic Development and Social Change

Paget Henry (SPRING)

Emphasis on understanding the interrelations among economic, political, and cultural aspects of change in developing countries. The experience of currently developing nations is contrasted to that of nations which industrialized in the 19th century. Compares the different development strategies which have been adopted by currently developing nations and their consequences for social change.

SOC 1128 Migrants, Refugees, and the Mediterranean

Lisa DiCarlo (SPRING)

The Mediterranean has a long history as a site of transit and transition. This course will start with a historical overview of transit and the Mediterranean. We will then move on to evolving definitions of migrants and refugees with respect to the organizations that assist and/or attempt to regulate them. We will explore theoretical frameworks for understanding migration and flight. We will then examine population flows around and across the Mediterranean by exploring push factors, pull factors, crises of war and economy, and the rise of populism in host communities.

POLS 1500 The International Law and Politics of Human Rights

Nina Tannenwald (FALL)

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.

PHP 2730 Including the Excluded: Global Health Ethics

Caroline C Kuo (FALL)

This course explores the ethics of global public health engagement. Global health implementation is fraught with ethical conundrums. These ethical conundrums include the process of generating rigorous evidence, championing health as a human right, engaging global partners in meaningful collaborations, and implementing complex programs in low-resource settings. These ethical challenges are driven by North-South inequities and by differences in socioeconomic backgrounds, culture, language, and other intersectional identities. This course introduces scholars to global health ethics as a framework for tackling health disparities, grappling in a scholarly and practical way with the complex fabric of global health research, policy, and practice.

HIST 1080 Humanitarianism and Conflict in Africa

Jennifer Johnson (FALL)

This course focuses on the major issues and debates concerning humanitarianism and international intervention in 20th century Africa. It will explore the history of humanitarianism and the many challenges that arise when governments and institutions intervene in a conflict. Then students will investigate specific sites of conflict in Africa (ranging from Nigeria, Somalia, Rwanda, Sudan, and Western Sahara) and analyze different models of intervention and aid. These case studies will expose students to pivotal events in African history and equip them with a critical vocabulary with which to assess contemporary conflicts.

CSCI 1805 Section Computers, Freedom and Privacy

Timothy Edgar (FALL)

Who is the Big Brother that we most fear? Is it the NSA -- or is it Google and Facebook? Rapidly changing social mores and the growing problem of cybersecurity have all contributed to a sense that privacy is dead. Laws protecting privacy and civil liberties are stuck in the analog age, while the capabilities for mass digital surveillance continue to advance rapidly. This course will examine a variety of informational privacy and technology issues. A major theme: the historical and contemporary struggle to bring surveillance under democratic control to protect against abuses of privacy, civil liberties and human rights.

INTL 0600 Foundations of Security

Rose McDermott (FALL)

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.