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


Spring 2021 courses focusing on human rights and humanitarian issues for undergraduate students

HIST 1310 History of Brazil

James Green 

This course charts the history of Brazil from Portuguese contact with the indigenous population in 1500 to the present. It examines the countrys political, economic, social, intellectual, and cultural development to understand the causes, interactions, and consequences of conflict, change, and continuity within Brazilian society.

HIST 1967L Politics and Culture Under The Brazilian Military Dictatorship, 1964-1985

James Green

This course will focus on the political, social, economic, and cultural changes that took place in Brazil during the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964-85. We will examine why the generals took power, the role of the U.S. government in backing the new regime, cultural transformations during this period, and the process that led to re-democratization.

SOC 2961D Sociology of Power

Patrick Heller 

The goal of the course is to both engage with the many different and often conflicting theoretical paradigms in sociology that have shaped the debate on power as well as to explore in depth the various empirical manifestations of power. The goal of the course is two-fold: first to familiarize ourselves with the rich set of theoretical tools that sociology provides for exposing, engaging and reconstituting power and second to fully grapple with the challenges of producing social science research that can build on and advance the normative and empirical debate on power. Undergrads by permission of instructor.

PHP 2330 Behavioral and Social Approaches to HIV Prevention

Don Operario

This course examines concepts, approaches, and empirical findings from behavioral and social research to prevent HIV transmission. Students will become familiar with behavioral theories, social epidemiological principles, intervention design, and debates within the field of HIV prevention. A particular focus of this course is on the linkages between science and HIV prevention practice/policy. Students will conduct weekly readings, engage actively in seminar discussions, and participate in small-group presentations and research activities. Prior coursework in public health research methodology is recommended. Prerequisites: Graduate student or senior public health concentrator. Enrollment limited to 15 advanced undergraduate, graduate and medical students.

ECON 1430 The Economics of Social Policy

Emily Oster 

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.

IAPA 1804M Overcoming Threats to Human Security

David Polatty 

This course provides students with a comprehensive introduction to exploring challenges and opportunities related to global challenges from both a human and national security perspective – with a special focus on putting people and communities, as opposed to national interests, at the center of attention. Students will gain a deep understanding of key issues including humanitarian crises caused by natural disasters, and the impacts of climate change, food and water security, urbanization, mass migration, and infectious disease/pandemics on vulnerable people around the world.

POLS 1500 The International Law and Politics of Human Rights

Nina Tannenwald 

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 1240 Politics, Markets and States in Developing Countries

Richard O Snyder

How can we explain fundamental differences in economic performance and policy across developing countries in the face of Globalization? Why are some countries praised as economic "miracles," yet others seem mired in inescapable stagnation? This course addresses these questions by introducing the basic topics, concepts, and theoretical approaches that comprise the field of political economy of development. The course draws on case studies from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

POLS 1820H Contraband Capitalism: States and Illegal Global Markets

Peter R Andreas

This course explores the clandestine side of the global economy (including flows of drugs, people, weapons, and money) and state policing efforts. We will examine the organization of these activities, how they intersect with the state and legal economy, their relationship to armed conflicts, and how they shape (and are shaped by) domestic and international politics. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors concentrating in Development Studies, Political Science, or International Relations. Course is not open to students who have taken POLS 1020.

IAPA 1206 War

Ivan Michael Arreguin-Toft

This course introduces students to modern and contemporary war—its nature, its technology, its philosophers, its variations, and its evolution—across five domains: on land, at sea, in the air, and across cyber space. The course is divided into three parts: unpacking the nomenclature of violence; “old war”; and “new war. Students who complete the course will gain sufficient military literacy to critically engage in important questions and ongoing debates about the use of armed force to pursue national political interests.

IAPA 1700E Nonprofit Organizations

William J Allen

Contemporary nonprofits and their role in community building and shaping public policy are central to this course. Topics include how strong coalitions impact housing, welfare and children's policy, organizing empowered communities, the influential and engaged donor and building the value of nonprofits. Case studies will be featured and new nonprofit models will be conceptualized to strategically address critical human need. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors, seniors, and graduate students concentrating in Public Policy. This course satisfies the American Institutions requirement.

IAPA 1804A Iran and the Islamic Revolution

Stephen A Kinzer

Shattering events of 1978-80 in Iran unfolded against the backdrop of the previous decades of Iranian history, knowing that history is essential to understanding the revolution. The revolution cannot be appreciated without studying the enormous effects it's had over the last 35 years. This course places the anti-Shah movement and the rise of religious power in the context of Iran's century of modern history. We conclude by focusing on today's Iran, the upheaval following the 2009 election, reformist president election in 2013, and prospects for reconciliation with the US. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors & seniors. Priority given to IR seniors.

IAPA 1804J Policing in Global Perspective

Magda Boutros

Debates about policing seem to be everywhere: in the news, in politics, in activist circles, in TV shows and movies. Around the world, from the Arab Spring movements to the Movement for Black Lives, condemnations of police brutality, racial bias, and police impunity have become pervasive. The solutions proposed range from implicit bias training and the generalization of body-worn cameras, to defunding and abolishing the police. This course engages with these debates by examining policing in global and comparative perspective.

IAPA 1804O Life and Violence

Aalyia Sadruddin

Violence in human societies has been at the center of social science scholarship for decades. Yet, how violence is conceptualized, written, and represented in the social science record varies from discipline to discipline. In this course, we dig deep into the study of violence in its many forms (e.g., political, ethnic, bodily, and religious), focusing specifically on how it affects the everyday lives of people. Reading and watching content produced by academics and nonacademics in a broad range of social contexts such as India, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Rwanda, Kenya, Northern Ireland, and the United States, we will critically assess how the past and present violence inform our ways of thinking and writing about places and people that might be unfamiliar to us.

MES 1270 Histories of Watching and Surveying

Samine Tabatabaei

How are surveillance practices historically embedded in social fabric? How have surveillance technologies altered social life throughout history? This course explores these questions by mapping the complex ways that technologies and societies interact to produce security, fear, control, and vulnerability. Some of the areas covered include close-circuit television (CCTV) in public and quasi-public spaces, biometric technologies on the border, and a host of monitoring technologies in cyberspaces, workplaces, and the home. Readings are drawn from the critical theories in visual culture, science-fiction, and popular media.

IAPA 1804K Political Violence

Jori Breslawski

In this course, students will learn how social scientific tools can be used to understand political violence, including inter-state conflict, civil war, genocide, and terrorism. While the course will focus on why and when these forms of violence occur, students will also develop and understanding for when and why violence does not occur. The course will also cover a number of emerging topics in the field of political violence, including rebel governance, technology and conflict, and the legacies of violence. The course will familiarize students with the basic research tools employed by scholars of political violence, including case studies, survey research, and the quantitative analysis of cross- national datasets, and apply concepts and tools in diverse regional contexts in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.