Contacts | The Pozen Family Center for Human Rights | Undergraduate Minor in Human Rights | Core Courses | Human Rights Courses

Department Website: http://humanrights.uchicago.edu

The Pozen Family Center for Human Rights

Founded in 1997 as the Human Rights Program, the University of Chicago Pozen Family Center for Human Rights was renamed in June 2014. The Pozen Family Center offers a broad range of innovative interdisciplinary teaching and research initiatives that critically explore the theory and practice of human rights. The Pozen Family Center advances the global study of human rights through:

  • Developing a rigorous liberal arts curriculum that combines foundational research with practice-oriented teaching.
  • Supporting research that brings together faculty and students from across the University to address the challenges of articulating universal human rights in a world of global inter-connectedness.
  • Organizing programs to enhance the University's engagement with local, national, and international human rights communities.

The Human Rights Curriculum includes a core set of courses introducing philosophical, historical, and contemporary understandings of human rights; an undergraduate minor; elective courses with distinct disciplinary, thematic, and/or regional perspectives; and a foundational course for graduate students. Students wishing to pursue a systematic introduction to the study of human rights are encouraged to take the core courses:

HMRT 20100Human Rights I: Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights100
HMRT 20200Human Rights II: History and Theory100
HMRT 20300Human Rights III: Contemporary Issues in Human Rights100

Additional courses provide an in-depth study of various human rights issues from different theoretical, thematic, or regional perspectives. In Spring Quarter 2016, Human Rights I, II, and III will be offered in Vienna through Study Abroad.

The Internship Program provides summer fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students to gain hands-on experience in human rights practice at host organizations in the United States and around the world.

The Pozen Family Center for Human Rights also advances path-breaking human rights research by supporting innovative scholarship and facilitating multi-year initiatives around key human rights questions. The Pozen Family Center aims to foster a human rights culture at the University of Chicago and in its broader community by hosting public events throughout the year. These conferences, workshops, lectures, performances, and exhibitions bring scholars and practitioners from around the world to campus to explore human rights in theory and practice.

Undergraduate Minor in Human Rights

College students in any field of study may complete a minor in Human Rights. The undergraduate minor in Human Rights is an interdisciplinary plan of study that provides students the opportunity to become familiar with theoretical, historical, and comparative perspectives on human rights. The flexibility of this course of study complements majors in any of the disciplines. A minor in Human Rights will provide a background for graduate study in an appropriate discipline or for careers that incorporate human rights advocacy (e.g., journalism, filmmaking, the practice of law or medicine, teaching, policy analysis, service in government or intergovernmental entities).

The minor requires five courses. At least two of the courses must be selected from the three Human Rights core courses:

HMRT 20100Human Rights I: Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights100
HMRT 20200Human Rights II: History and Theory100
HMRT 20300Human Rights III: Contemporary Issues in Human Rights100

The remaining three courses can be selected from among the Human Rights core and approved Human Rights (HMRT) courses.

To apply for the minor, students must receive the Executive Director's approval on a form obtained from their College adviser. This form must then be returned to their College adviser by the end of Spring Quarter of their third year.

Courses in the minor program may not be (1) double counted with the student's major(s) or with other minors or (2) counted toward general education requirements. Courses in the minor must be taken for quality grades, and more than half of the requirements for the minor must be met by registering for courses bearing University of Chicago course numbers.

NOTE: Lists of Human Rights (HMRT) courses are updated quarterly on the Pozen Family Center website at humanrights.uchicago.edu/page/curriculum

Core Courses

HMRT 20100. Human Rights I: Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. 100 Units.

Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (A) (I)

Instructor(s): B. Laurence
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 30100,PHIL 21700,PHIL 31600,HIST 29301,HIST 39301,INRE 31600,LAWS 41200,MAPH 40000,LLSO 25100

HMRT 20200. Human Rights II: History and Theory. 100 Units.

This course is concerned with the theory and the historical evolution of the modern human rights regime. It discusses the emergence of a modern “human rights” culture as a product of the formation and expansion of the system of nation-states and the concurrent rise of value-driven social mobilizations. It proceeds to discuss human rights in two prevailing modalities. First, it explores rights as protection of the body and personhood and the modern, Western notion of individualism. Second, it inquires into rights as they affect groups (e.g., ethnicities and, potentially, transnational corporations) or states.

Instructor(s): To be announced     Terms Offered: Winter 2016
Equivalent Course(s): CRES 29302,HIST 29302,HIST 39302,HMRT 30200,INRE 31700,LAWS 41301,LLSO 27100

HMRT 20300. Human Rights III: Contemporary Issues in Human Rights. 100 Units.

This interdisciplinary course presents a practitioner’s overview of several major contemporary human rights problems as a means to explore the utility of human rights norms and mechanisms, as well as the advocacy roles of civil society organizations, legal and medical professionals, traditional and new media, and social movements. Topics may include the prohibition against torture, women's rights as human rights, problems of universalism versus cultural relativism, and the human right to health.

Instructor(s): S. Gzesh     Terms Offered: Autumn 2015
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 30300,HIST 29303,HIST 39303,INRE 31800,LAWS 78201,LLSO 27200

HMRT 20101. Human Rights I in Vienna: Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. 100 Units.

Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (V) (I)

Instructor(s): D. Brudney     Terms Offered: Spring 2016 (in Vienna)

HMRT 20201. Human Rights II in Vienna: History and Theory. 100 Units.

This course is concerned with the theory and the historical evolution of the modern human rights regime. It discusses the emergence of a modern “human rights” culture as a product of the formation and expansion of the system of nation-states and the concurrent rise of value-driven social mobilizations. It proceeds to discuss human rights in two prevailing modalities. First, it explores rights as protection of the body and personhood and the modern, Western notion of individualism. Second, it inquires into rights as they affect groups (e.g., ethnicities and, potentially, transnational corporations) or states.

Instructor(s): T. Zahra     Terms Offered: Spring 2016 (in Vienna)

HMRT 20301. Human Rights III in Vienna: Contemporary Issues in Human Rights. 100 Units.

This interdisciplinary course presents a practitioner’s overview of human rights problems as a means to explore the utility of human rights norms and mechanisms, as well as the advocacy roles of civil society organizations, legal and medical professionals, traditional and new media, and social movements. The Vienna edition of the course will expose the students to issues in contemporary human rights relevant to Europe today. Topics will include the relationship between rights and citizenship in contemporary Europe, the balance between rights and security (including the prohibition against torture), and the recognition of children’s rights as human rights.

Instructor(s): S. Gzesh     Terms Offered: Spring 2016 (in Vienna)

Human Rights Courses

HMRT 20116. Global-Local Politics. 100 Units.

Globalizing and local forces are generating a new politics in the United States and around the world. This course explores this new politics by mapping its emerging elements: the rise of social issues, ethno-religious and regional attachments, environmentalism, gender and life-style identity issues, new social movements, transformed political parties and organized groups, and new efforts to mobilize individual citizens.

Instructor(s): T. Clark     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): SOCI 20116,HMRT 30116,PBPL 27900,SOCI 30116

HMRT 21400. Health and Human Rights. 100 Units.

This course attempts to define health and health care in the context of human rights theory and practice. Does a “right to health” include a “right to health care"? We delineate health care financing in the United States and compare these systems with those of other nations. We explore specific issues of health and medical practice as they interface in areas of global conflict: torture, landmines, and poverty. Readings and discussions explore social determinants of health: housing, educational institutions, employment, and the fraying of social safety nets. We study vulnerable populations: foster children, refugees, and the mentally ill. Lastly, does a right to health include a right to pharmaceuticals? What does the big business of drug research and marketing mean for our own country and the world?

Instructor(s): R. Sherer, E. Lyon     Terms Offered: Winter 2016
Equivalent Course(s): MEDC 60405

HMRT 23301. History of Humanitarian Intervention. 100 Units.

The post–Cold War world has been seen a proliferation of so-called humanitarian interventions as well as of doctrines and agreements that guide them. R2P, the Responsibility to Protect, is the most prominent example for the latter.  What do we make of these interventions for humanitarian ends? Should we denounce their backers as covert imperialists or their detractors as callous fellow-travelers for genocidaires? Should we give up humanitarian reasoning? There is no self-evident answer. However, there is quite a bit of material to work with. First of all, why this sudden rush toward humanitarian intervention? How do these interventions relate to the older (Cold War) history of (UN) peacekeeping? Second, forced humanitarian interventions have a surprisingly long history that makes a difference, if we want to understand the present. This is a history of interstate protection for (religious) minorities, a history of muscular, imperial meddling in other people's and, especially, in the Ottoman Empire's affairs, a history not least of securitizing relief operations, and only eventually a history of protecting against humanitarian and human rights abuses. In all of these instances it is a history of legitimating violence as the lesser evil in the face of grievous abuses and man-made disasters, which would suggest that the future of global politics is not with peacekeeping, but with internationally sanctioned warmaking.

Instructor(s): M. Geyer     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 22117,HIST 32117,HMRT 33001,LLSO 23402

HMRT 23302. Humanitarianism: History and Theory. 100 Units.

Humanitarianism in its most general form is an ethics of benevolence and sympathy extending universally and impartially to all human beings. Humanitarians understand the world as an affective community and insist that the world can be transformed and, if not transformed, suffering and ill-treatment can be alleviated by fearless vanguards of compassion. Lately, the entire concept has come under attack as deceptive, fraudulent, and useless. If anything, so it is argued, humanitarianism has failed, if it has not actively worsened humanitarian crises. Humanitarians promise relief and deliver a mess; they consort with the worst abusers of human rights; they have never changed anything. Well, one of the questions we will ask is what we make of this critique in light of the historical record. What do humanitarians do? What is their effect and when and where are they effective? Is it true that abolitionists have achieved the abolition of slavery? What about the struggle for social justice? About famine relief? About refugee aid? However, rather than chasing one case after another, we will focus on the humanitarian rationale for action and how it differs from other such rationales, say, Pacifist, Marxist, or liberal rights-based approaches.

Instructor(s): M. Geyer     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 33512,HMRT 33002,LLSO 23114,HIST 23512

HMRT 24501. Human Rights in Mexico. 100 Units.

This course is intended to give the student a foundation in understanding human rights as both concept and reality in contemporary Mexico. Subject matter includes an overview of key periods in Mexican history in which concepts of individual and group rights, the relationship between citizens and the state, and the powers of the Church and the state were subject to change. This historical review will form the foundation for understanding human rights issues in contemporary Mexico. The course will also examine modern social movements which frame their demands as human rights.

Instructor(s): S. Gzesh     Terms Offered: Winter 2016
Prerequisite(s): A reading knowledge of Spanish and at least one course on Latin American history or culture are required.
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 34501,LACS 24501,LACS 34501,HIST 29408,HIST 39408

HMRT 24701. Human Rights: Alien and Citizen. 100 Units.

This course addresses how international human rights doctrines, conventions, and mechanisms can be used to understand the situation of the “alien” (or foreigner) who has left his or her country of origin to work, seek safe haven, or simply reside in another country. If human rights are universal, human rights are not lost merely by crossing a border. We use an interdisciplinary approach to study concepts of citizenship and statelessness, as well as the human rights of refugees and migratory workers.

Instructor(s): S. Gzesh     Terms Offered: Not offered in 2015-2016
Equivalent Course(s): LACS 25303,LAWS 62401

HMRT 25210. Anthropology of Disability. 100 Units.

This seminar undertakes to explore "disability" from an anthropological perspective that recognizes it as a socially constructed concept with implications for our understanding of fundamental issues about culture, society, and individual differences. We explore a wide range of theoretical, legal, ethical, and policy issues as they relate to the experiences of persons with disabilities, their families, and advocates. The final project is a presentation on the fieldwork.

Instructor(s): M. Fred     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing
Equivalent Course(s): MAPS 36900,ANTH 20405,ANTH 30405,CHDV 30405,HMRT 35210,SOSC 36900

HMRT 26150. Human Dignity. 100 Units.

This advanced undergraduate course will examine the notion of human dignity, with a special eye towards its role in contemporary human rights discourse. The course begins by tracing the historical development of the idea of human dignity both in philosophy and in law, and from there it moves on to examine contemporary usages. Questions to be examined include the following: What is the meaning of "human dignity"? Is it basic to morality? What is the relationship between human dignity and human rights? Does respect for human dignity require the abolition of capital punishment and/or the permission of assisted suicide, among other practices? Is it an inherently religious idea? What grounding might it have in secular ethics?

Instructor(s): A. Etinson     Terms Offered: Winter 2016
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 36150,INRE 36150,LAWS 78203,PHIL 21625,PHIL 31625

HMRT 26151. Human Rights and Human Diversity. 100 Units.

It is no secret that human beings frequently disagree on matters both large and small. Our neighbors hold religious beliefs that we do not. They disagree with us on scientific matters, such as the reality of climate change. They have different life priorities. And they have moral intuitions that often differ strikingly from our own. At the level of whole communities, these differences seem to grow even starker. The highly visible ideological conflicts between the nations of Western Europe and North America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia on matters of religious freedom, freedom of expression, democracy, gender equality, gay rights, and the rights of children serve as a constant reminder of this. This is the reality in which defenders and practitioners of human rights have to operate. And it is therefore important to think about how these disagreements and differences should impact both our understanding and implementation of human rights, if at all. That is the aim of this course.

Instructor(s): A. Etinson     Terms Offered: Spring 2016
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 36151,PHIL 21701,PHIL 31621,MAPH 36151,CRES 26151,CRES 36151,GNSE 26151,GNSE 36151,CHSS 36151,HIPS 26151,LLSO 26151

HMRT 27061. United States Legal History. 100 Units.

This course focuses on the connections between law and society in modern America. It explores how legal doctrines and constitutional rules have defined individual rights and social relations in both the public and private spheres. It also examines political struggles that have transformed American law. Topics to be addressed include the meaning of rights; the regulation of property, work, race, and sexual relations; civil disobedience; and legal theory as cultural history. Readings include legal cases, judicial rulings, short stories, and legal and historical scholarship.

Instructor(s): A. Stanley     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): AMER 27605,CRES 27605,GNSE 27605,LLSO 28010,HIST 27605

HMRT 27306. U.S. Women and Gender. 100 Units.

Instructor(s): A. Stanley     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 37306,HMRT 37306,LLSO 27306,HIST 27306

HMRT 28310. Vulnerability and Human Rights. 100 Units.

The course discusses current theories of vulnerability and passivity in relation to human rights. It pays particular attention how human rights and social justice can be thought of in relation to people with severe disabilities, animals, and others who are not traditionally thought of as subjects of justice. We will discuss philosophical texts by Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, John Rawls, Martha Nussbaum, and others, and sociological texts by scholars like Bryan Turner and Tom Shakespeare.

Instructor(s): D. Kulick     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 38310,CHDV 26310

HMRT 28602. Health Care and the Limits of State Action. 100 Units.

In a time of great human mobility and weakening state frontiers, epidemic disease is able to travel fast and far, mutate in response to treatment, and defy the institutions invented to keep it under control: quarantine, the cordon sanitaire, immunization, and the management of populations. Public health services in many countries find themselves at a loss in dealing with these outbreaks of disease, a deficiency to which NGOs emerge as a response (an imperfect one to be sure). Through a series of readings in anthropology, sociology, ethics, medicine, and political science, we will attempt to reach an understanding of this crisis of both epidemiological technique and state legitimacy, and to sketch out options.

Instructor(s): E. Lyon, H. Saussy     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing. This course does not meet requirements for the biological sciences major.
Equivalent Course(s): BIOS 29323,BPRO 28600,CMLT 28900

HMRT 29001. The Practice of Human Rights. 100 Units.

The seminar uses an interdisciplinary approach to give students a variety of conceptual frameworks to integrate their field experience into their academic program. Course material focuses on two major aspects of the internship experience: analysis of the work of “social change” organizations and an evaluation of the student’s personal experience. The first half of this course is dedicated to readings and discussion. Students then give presentations that are subject to group critique and discussion.

Instructor(s): S. Gzesh     Terms Offered: Not offered in 2015-2016
Prerequisite(s): Completion of Human Rights Program internship or equivalent experience in a rights-focused advocacy organization and consent of instructor.


Contacts

Faculty Director

PFCHR Faculty Director; Bernadotte E. Schmitt Professor in History and the College
Mark Philip Bradley
SS 502
773.702.3558
Email

Executive Director

PFCHR Executive Director; Senior Lecturer in the College
Susan Gzesh
5720 S. Woodlawn Ave., Rm. 208
773.702.9455
Email

Administrative Contact

Administrative Assistant
Kathy Scott
5720 S. Woodlawn Ave., Rm. 213
773.834.0957
Email