This 3-credit seminar will examine the theoretical basis of the human rights movement, the nature of the organizations in the human rights field, their philosophies, strategies, and tactics. The class will also consider the ethical choices that face human rights advocates with regard to their impartiality, motivations and mandate to protect vulnerable individuals and groups. The class will build upon internships and other experiences students have had with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the human rights field. The class will use case studies and other methods to investigate fact situations, analyze norms and design creative strategies as human rights activists.
The class will address human rights issues and situations from the perspective of human rights professionals. The class will use case studies as the basis of many of our discussions, simulating the experience of advocates who work to solve human rights problems. Students will consider measures used to determine the success of human rights advocacy and will evaluate the effectiveness of particular advocacy tools as a means of addressing human rights situations and issues, such as fact-finding and documentation of violations, campaigns on human rights issues, use of social networking, and normative development. Students in the seminar will consider critiques of human rights advocacy addressing the tensions between cultural norms and human rights work as well as the asymmetries that affect relationships among the various actors in the human rights movement. We will take steps to evaluate the ethics and effectiveness of our own proposed actions in our group projects to protect human rights. Students will also consider the basic fundraising needs of NGOs and will design and present a request for funding based on their in-class projects.
Readings include an overview of human rights norms and mechanisms; roots and development of the transnational human rights movement; analysis of key NGOs and their campaigns; advocacy within international institutions; reports and publications from NGOs working in the field; critical responses to human rights ideology and practice; and guidelines used to conduct fundraising and strategic planning.
For additional info, the syllabus can be downloaded here:syllabus glos 5403 2012.final.doc