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College of Arts and Sciences Courses

Specialized Human Rights Courses

Classes that directly addresses human rights and issues of inequities


ANTH 337: Anthropology of Genocide – This course examines questions concerning how individuals, groups, and social institutions legitimize the power to repress, coerce, and kill; how victims experience and interpret their suffering; how "ordinary people" come to accept and justify violent regimes; and the possibility of constructing an understanding of genocide that extends across cultures and from individual impulse to global conflict. Case studies include genocide in the Americas, the Nazi Holocaust, and ethnic cleansing in Central Africa and Eastern Europe.

ANTH 541: Anthropology and State Policy – This course traces shifting relationships among governments, anthropologists, and ordinary people. Readings and class discussions explore the rise of "applied" anthropology as part of the processes of colonialism and capital accumulation. Also covered are colonial encounters, immigration and internment, neocolonialism, and structural adjustment.

ANTH 544: Topics in Anthropology – This course explores the application of anthropological method and theory to solving problems in contemporary society. Rotating topics include inequality and change in education; health, culture and illness; public archaeology; and anthropology of human rights. Topics vary by section.


SPAN 559: Human Rights and Latin American Literature – This course examines the evolution of human rights in Latin America, particularly Argentina and Chile, through literary and cultural testimony in the form of theatre, film, prose, photography, and urban interventions. Students are asked to analyze relationships between creative production, politics, and human rights activism in the wake of authoritarian contexts. During the course of the semester, the course examines key human rights issues relating to truth, justice, testimony and witnessing, in the investigation of how literature and art respond to collective trauma, facilitate social healing, and promote human rights.


PHIL 235: Theory of Democracy and Human Rights – This course analyzes traditional Western theories of democracy and rights, both separately and in relation to each other, as well as contemporary approaches such as Habermasian, post-modern, feminist, and critical race theory. It also considers the East-West debate on human rights.

PHIL 693: Global Ethics – This integrative seminar involves discussion of ethics, ethical systems, and the presuppositions of mediation from a cross-cultural perspective.

Related Human Rights Courses

Classes that incorporate human rights or social inequities into their subject matter, but are not based around a human rights framework.


ANTH 210: Roots of Racism and Interracial Harmony – This course examines why racism has often characterized the relations between human groups, and compares these cases with other societies that have been nonracist. Social stratification, ideas about the nature and role of individuals, and economic factors are considered within and across cultures. The course links analysis of the past to possible social action.

ANTH 215: Sex, Gender, and Culture – This course explores how economic systems, social structures, and values construct and redefine biological distinctions between women and men. It includes gender in egalitarian societies; origins and consequences of patriarchy; gay and lesbian cultures; and gender, politics, and social change. It also includes case studies from tribal, state-level, and post-colonial contexts.

ANTH 334: Environmental Justice – This course focuses on issues of inequalities attending the destruction of resources, the siting of dangerous facilities, dumping of toxic wastes, and the development of technologies that harm some people while benefiting others. Case studies from North America, Latin America, Africa, the Arctic, Pacific, and Caribbean examine questions about history, social relations, power, connections among the world's societies, and competing values.

ANTH 535: Ethnicity and Nationalism – This course examines ways that groups in complex societies and new nations use ethnicity and nationalism to express and enact community and identity, similarity and difference, peaceful social relations, warfare, and genocide. Ethnicity has become a universal means for groups to defend their interests, avoid alienation, and create powerful rituals of self-preservation and defense. This course explores those themes.

ANTH 542: Reinventing Applied Anthropology – This course explores efforts to build an applied anthropology that advances popular struggles for economic freedom, human rights, and social justice while maintaining a critique of state power. The course also examines how such work engages conventional approaches to research, publication, and career advancement, and suggests pathways to alternative anthropological careers.

ANTH 635: Race, Gender, & Social Justice – This seminar explores the disjunction between biological myths of race and gender and their social construction as credible institutions; the historical, economic, and political roots of inequalities; the institutions and ideologies that buttress and challenge power relations; and the implications of social science teaching and research for understanding social class, race, and gender discrimination. Issues of advocacy for social change are also explored.


ECON 325/625: Social Choice and Economic Justice – This course explores conservative, liberal, and radical normative theories; conflicts between efficiency, equity, and liberty; major contemporary writers on the "just economy"; institutional constraints, the role of the market, voting paradoxes, and the nature of social choice; concepts of economic rationality; and economic justice and contemporary policy.

ECON 351: Comparative Economic Systems – This course analyzes and compares different economic institutions as they affect economic democracy, efficiency, and equity. It includes case studies of the differences between the French, British, German, Swedish, and Japanese economies, and an evaluation of the historical experience of the formerly "socialist" economies.

ECON 361: Economic Development – This course surveys major issues related to the economics of developing countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. It includes the meaning and measurement of economic development, theories of development and underdevelopment, and policies to alleviate poverty and promote development in the low-and middle-income countries of the world.

ECON 362: Microeconomics of Economic Development – This course explores microeconomic issues in developing countries at a theoretical and empirical level. The focus is on poverty and income distribution, but it also includes coordination failures, credit and labor market imperfections, microcredit, health, food security, human capital accumulation, gender, property rights, transaction costs, and economics of the household.

ECON 574: Gender Perspectives on Economic Analysis – This course provides an introduction to gender analysis in micro and labor economics. It explores theories of the household and household bargaining and empirical research; conceptualization and measurement of the reproductive economy, care work and unpaid work; women's participation in labor markets; assets and income distribution; gender, inequity, and poverty; and related social policy issues.

ECON 579: Environmental Economics – This course analyzes the relationship between economic activity and the natural environment from both mainstream and ecological perspectives. Policy measures for regulating pollution and managing common property resources are explored, including emission taxes, tradable pollution permits, and property rights solutions. Applications to global environmental issues such as climate change and local environmental problems are emphasized. Students gain an understanding of the meaning of sustainable development and the types of policies required to achieve it.


EDU 205: Schools and Society – This course offers a multidimensional view of schools, teachers, and students. This social and intellectual foundation course serves as a basis for studying contemporary education and the issues of racism, sexism, finance, governance, innovations, and the social context of American education.

EDU 285: Education for International Development – This course explores the conserving role of education as a socializing agent and the liberating role of education as an engine of change. Special attention is given to the social and economic impact of education in national development, especially in the Developing World.


HIST 207: The United States since 1945 – This introductory course on the last half century of U.S. history includes the growing cultural diversity of the American people and the interrelatedness of international and domestic affairs. It also explores the impact of the Cold War and challenges to traditional ideologies and political solutions.

HIST 208: African American History to 1877 – This course covers the Atlantic slave trade, the African presence in Colonial America, the American Revolution, nineteenth-century American slavery, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and Reconstruction, beginning with a review of literature citing pre-Columbian contacts between Africa and the Western hemisphere. The course utilizes historical eyewitness accounts, maps, popular culture, and museum exhibitions to explore the arrival and historical journey of Africans from the Colonial and Revolutionary eras through the Civil War and Reconstruction.

HIST 210: Ethnicity in America – This course explores how ethnicity has shaped American institutions and behavior patterns from 1607 to the present. Largely a nation of immigrants, this country reflects the racial, religious, and national characteristics of those who migrated here, whether voluntarily or as slaves. The course includes ethnicity's influence on family, politics, civil rights, and foreign policy.

HIST 211: Native American History – This course explores the history of Native Americans in North America from pre-Columbian times to the present. Using interdisciplinary methods of ethnohistory, the course analyzes Native Americans' efforts to maintain their culture and autonomy while adapting to the vast changes wrought by European settlement. The course also examines Native American influences on Colonial society, American identity, and the evolution of U.S. government policy.

HIST 215: Social Forces that Shaped America – This course examines the history of race, class, and gender in the United States from the war for independence to the present. The focus is on how these forces existed and continue to exist as intersecting material realities and contributors to the social attitudes held by residents of the United States.

HIST 220: Women in America – This course examines change and continuity in the experience of American women from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. It focuses on social and political movements of special concern to women, including suffrage, birth control, women's liberation, and contemporary antifeminism.

HIST 241: Colonial Latin America – This course explores conquest and change in Indian civilization; imperial politics; race and class; Indian labor and the Black legend; imperial economic relations; and imperial reform and revolution.

HIST 242: Latin America Since Independence – This course examines problems in creating nations; militarism, dictatorship, and democracy; sources of underdevelopment; and reform and revolution in the twentieth century.

HIST 245: Modern Jewish Civilization – This course surveys Jewish responses to the challenges of modernity. It also examines the creation of new Jewish communities in America and Israel, shifts in Jewish political status, and innovations in Jewish religious and and intellectual history such as Zionism and Hasidism.

HIST 318/618: Nazi Germany – This course explores the political, social, and economic conditions that made it possible for Hitler to take power and the nature of Nazi rule, with an emphasis on World War II and the Holocaust.

HIST 319/619: Holocaust – This course traces the history of anti-Semitism and the development of racism that led to the Holocaust. It examines the historical development of the Final Solution and considers the variety of responses to Jewish persecution by the Nazi perpetrators, the Jews, and the nations of the world.

HIST 376/676: Americans and their Environment – This course focuses on the ideas, politics, and social structures that have influenced Americans in their relationship with their natural environment. It includes how Americans have viewed and valued wilderness, their treatment of land, and their use of natural resources in the context of U.S. expansion and industrial development.


SPAN 356/656: The Mexican-U.S. Border – This course explores the border through three primary theoretical frameworks: 1) as a line on a map and an international border; 2) as a 200-mile wide, 1933-mile long “third country,” or borderlands; and 3) as “Greater Mexico” and “Mex-America,” or the inevitable, integrated North American culture of the future. The border/La frontera (“el bordo”) has been called “a war zone,” “a crisis zone,” “2000 miles of hell,” and a “giant hazmat” area. The borderlands region is one of the fastest growing in the hemisphere. Dissimilar in many ways from both Mexico and the U.S., the borderlands offer unique cultural situations. The course utilizes cultural, social, political (including human rights, human trafficking, drug trafficking, and environmental issues), economic, legal, historical, linguistic, literary, and artistic perspectives.

SPAN 554: Southern Cone Performance, Activism, and Memory – This course investigates the powerful engagement of performance in the negotiation of memory politics, changing notions of citizenship, human rights activism, and the articulation of youth culture in contemporary Argentina and Chile, through examination of diverse performative phenomena (urban intervention, theater, demonstrations, and film).

SPAN 559: Afro-Latin American Culture and Music – This interdisciplinary colloquium examines themes related to race and ethnicity and the African heritage in Latin America. The class studies texts on slavery, religious syncretism, musicology (cumbia, merengue, salsa and more), and the most representative literary works.

SPAN 559: Contemporary Colombia and the Amazonia – This colloquium examines the complex reality of Colombia, and the main events that have happened through its history such as the “masacre bananera,” the period of “la violencia,” the narcoguerrillas, the paramilitary, Uribe’s presidency, and others. Special attention is paid to the Amazonia and the role that this region and its indigenous communities have played in the political and social conflicts since the twentieth century.

SPAN 559: Culture and Religion in Latin America – This course examines the presence of messianic figures in some instances of Latin American political discourse, and the uses of religion among the most disparate political ideologies. The course incorporates reading political speeches, manifestoes and testimonials, and studying the effect of religious ideas in political movements of Nicaragua, Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Venezuela and Argentina. 

SPAN 559: Culture and Violence in Latin America – This course looks at artistic representations of deep-seated forms of violence in Latin American culture. It uses historical, aesthetic and gendered perspectives to study the effect of these forms of violence in the populations that have suffered them, and explores the ways in which cultural products may suggest means to combat or subvert violence.

SPAN 559/705: Cuba Today: Revolution and Beyond – This course looks at the current state of the Cuban revolution from a historical standpoint - that is, in relation to how the ideology of the Cuban revolution has evolved over the years. Through movies, political speeches and artistic production, the course looks into definitions of human rights, democracy and civil society in current Cuba.

SPAN 705: Central American Cultural Studies – This seminar focuses on the six Central American countries and their conflictive history as seen through literary texts, films, and documentaries. It studies the legacy of colonialism, marginality, and the most contemporary challenges this region faces in the continental area.


HNRS 300: Honors Colloquium: The Ethics of Killing – This course examines philosophical writings on the question of if and when the intentional ending of human life is morally permissible. It examines the moral status of murder, suicide, euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment, war and terrorism. Students are expected to reflect on the national and international policy implications of the philosophical arguments considered.

PHIL 316/616: Feminist Philosophy – This course explores some of the challenges posed by feminist philosophers to traditional constructions of subjectivity through interrogation of one or more areas of philosophical thought: ethics, political theory, epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, or philosophy of language.

PHIL 317/617: Race and Philosophy – This course is an introduction to the emerging area of critical race theory in philosophy. It examines the development of "race" as an object of philosophy beginning in the early modern period, and explores the way in which analysis of race has brought philosophy into public conversation and the ways that philosophers have treated race and racism.

PHIL 386/686: Latin American Thought – This course presents a range of Latin American thinkers chosen to demonstrate the power, vitality, and usefulness of Latin American intellectual life for North American social and cultural issues. Topics include identity, marginality, latinidad, argentinidad, mexicanidad, mestizaje, critiques of power, role of ideology, feminism, social justice, liberation, culture in human psychology, and indigenous peoples.

PHIL 520: Seminar on Ethical Theory – This course is a survey of the development of ethical theory in Western philosophy by analysis of major works in classical and contemporary moral philosophy. Issues investigated include the nature of the good and the right, the possibility of moral knowledge, the principles of individual virtue and social justice, the problems of ethical relativism and absolutism, and the foundations of modern conceptions of human rights.

PHIL 525: Seminar on Modern Moral Problems – This course investigates moral philosophers’ attempts to analyze specific moral problems (e.g. abortion, euthanasia, pornography, surrogate parenting, capital punishment, economic justice, affirmative action, research with human subjects, genetic research, government secrecy and deception) and to formulate general principles for ethical analysis of social policies and professional ethics (for lawyers, doctors, etc.).

RELG 375/675: Religion and Violence – This course explores the religious dimensions, both ideological and cultural, of political and military conflict. Themes include sacred geography and literature as grounds of bloodshed, the sanctity of race, martyrdom/terrorism, and pacifism. Empirical data is drawn from Germany, Lithuania, the Middle East, and the Balkans.

RELG 386/686: Topics in Religious Discussion: Peace and Religion – This course analyzes the meaning and role of peace in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. Drawing from the respective scriptures, developed historically, students gain insight into an essential theme of religious identity and tap sources for understanding international conflicts and peace efforts.

RELG 386/686: Topics in Religious Discussion: Religion and Social Justice – This course examines some of the twentieth century influences in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism for social justice contemplation and action. Drawing on religious texts, the lives of key figures, and social justice movement history, students explore a variety of religious and ethical frameworks for action.


SOCY 110: Views From the Third World – This course is an introduction to the sociology of the Third World through study of the works of its own intellectuals and political leaders. It reflects on Third World societal structures and explains dilemmas of development and of strategies for overcoming these dilemmas. The course links texts to their Third World context.

SOCY 205: The Family – This course explores the family as a social institution in a changing society. It examines social inequalities of class, race, ethnicity, and gender as key factors in shaping diverse forms and experiences in family life. Students study theoretical and actual alternatives to family patterns as well as the future of the American family.

SOCY 210: Inequality: Class, Race, Ethnicity – This course examines structured inequality in society in socioeconomic, racial, and gender terms; how the individual's life and experiences are circumscribed and structured by his or her position in the social stratification system; and how and why stratification systems emerge and are reproduced and their alternatives.

SOCY 235: Women in the Third World – This course emphasizes the centrality of women in the rapidly changing world, particularly in terms of work, distributive justice, development policy, democratization, and the environment, focusing on Third World women and social change in different cultural contexts and in the global political-economic system.

SOCY 350: Social Problems in a Changing World – This course explores sociological perspectives on the construction of social problems in a changing world. The course focuses on analysis of contrasting views and solutions for such conditions as global inequality, environmental degradation, population growth, inequalities based on economic class, race, gender, sexual orientation, and age, and institutional crises involving families, education, health care, crime, and justice.

SOCY 351: Race and Ethnic Conflict – This course focuses on what happens when divergent types of persons experience social contact. It explores racial, ethnic, tribal, national, and religious interactions throughout the world. The processes include conflict, amalgamation, acculturation, assimilation, prejudice, and discrimination.

SOCY 354: White Privilege and Social Justice – This course considers the social, legal, and media constructions of white racial identities in relation to issues of racial justice.  It examines how white privilege intersects with gender, class, and sexuality.  Students develop skills for multicultural alliances and strategies for antiracist activism.

SOCY 370: Power, Politics, and Society – This course explores political sociology in a comparative global perspective, including the role and functions of the state, relative state autonomy, state legitimacy, forms of democracy and democratization processes, state and civil society, political ideology and culture, and ethnicity, nationalism, and the state.

SOCY 525 Social Advocacy and Social Change – This course examines social change methods and mobilizing successful movements for social change: defining issues, forming constituencies, recruitment, choosing goals and strategies, criteria for choosing tactics, fundraising and resource mobilization, grassroots leadership development, handling the media, legislative coalitions and judicial remedies.