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School of Public Affairs Courses

Specialized Human Rights Courses

Classes that directly addresses human rights and issues of inequities


JLC 308: Justice, Morality, & the Law – This course explores the moral issues involved in administering justice in society, emphasizing the nature of human rights and the ideal of justice. In addition, the class discusses the moral consequences of official control actions of lawmakers, justice system careerists, and others involved in the definition of crime and deprivation of liberty, stressing moral offenses.

JLC 444: Death Penalty and the Law – This course examines all facets of capital punishment ranging from sentence pronouncement to execution methods used. The course begins with a historical introduction to set the stage for how this seemingly primitive punishment has evolved through the years. The constitutional issues surrounding the death penalty controversy as well as the law that sustains its procedures are discussed.

JLC 496: Human Trafficking and the Media – This course examines the economic, social, cultural, and legal issues related to the trafficking of persons from an international and comparative perspective. It includes forced labor, the exploitation of immigrant females for domestic and sex services, the sale of children and irregular inter-country adoption, and the sale of wives legalized by transnational marriages. Students consider the trafficking prohibitions of the various international conventions, analyze legislative texts of domestic trafficking laws of selected jurisdictions worldwide, and analyze the U.S. statutes prohibiting trafficking in human beings.

JLC 615: Law and Human Rights – This course explores the legal, moral, and historical examination of international human rights. Friction among the values of national sovereignty, individual rights, self-determination, and the toleration of minorities is considered, as well as legal and extra-legal methods for humanitarian intervention, from World Court indictments to military invasion.


GOVT 215: Civil Rights & Liberties – This course examines the legal, political, and philosophical status of rights and liberties protected under the Constitution and laws of the United States, as well as how political processes affect the definition of rights.

GOVT 296: The Constitution, National Security and the U.S. War on Terror – This course offers a legal, political and historical examination of the tension between emergency governmental power and individual rights, with a focus on the ways in which presidential power has been used to justify indefinite detention, torture, and warrantless surveillance since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

GOVT 325: Minority Politics in the United States – This course explores the political development of various racial, ethnic, and religious minority communities in the United States, and their impact on the political development of the United States as a whole.

GOVT 432: Women and Politics – This course examines the evolutionary role of women in politics – as voters, citizens, candidates, and leaders – from the Seneca Falls Convention to the present. The role of women's organizations and movements in the expansion of political and legal rights are also explored.

GOVT 455: Equal Protection – This course explores the evolution of federal civil rights law and modern interpretations of the major statutory and constitutional provisions that guarantee equal protection. It emphasizes constitutional development under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and major congressional legislation that bans discrimination in employment, education, housing, etc., based on race, ethnic origin, gender, religion and color. The course also examines emerging legal developments intended to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and physical or mental disability.

GOVT 585: Voting Rights and Electoral Systems – This course explores the development of voting rights with particular emphasis on the development of African-American and Latino efforts to gain access to the ballot and representation in the United States. The approaches that other countries take toward these same issues are also studied.

GOVT 634: Democratization Past, Present, and Future – This course examines the social, economic and political conditions that promote democratization, the causes of the recent wave of democratization, the problems of democratic transition and consolidation, and the future prospects for democracy. It also explores economic prerequisites, the institutional structures of stable democracies and the challenges from ethnic conflict.

GOVT 696: Political Violence – This seminar examines the causes and consequences of political violence. The course considers some recent research on civil wars, but its focus is political conflict that falls short of warfare. It includes violent and non-violent protest, state repression, electoral violence, and communal conflict.

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.


JLC 402: Comparative Systems of Law and Justice – This course provides a cross-cultural analysis of the role of law. It explores the development of law and justice in various societies, from least developed to most developed.

JLC 421/JLC 621: Justice in the Face of Terror – This course studies issues of justice and responses to terror from the perspectives of history, ethics, literature, politics and law, and works to evaluate the justice of societal responses.

JLC 496: Reproduction Rights and the Law – This course gives students the opportunity to undertake a historical and legal analysis of the development of laws regulating human reproduction, with an emphasis on Supreme Court jurisprudence and current legislative efforts to both expand and curtail reproductive rights. It includes the development of privacy law; legislative and judicial efforts to balance privacy rights and other freedoms, such as religious freedom; enactment and interpretation of laws relating to the family/workplace balance (Title VII, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, FMLA); and the implications of recent technological advances on reproductive rights.