HRTS Fall 2020 Course Offerings

July 29, 2020
Classroom Picture


2020 Fall I HRTS Grad courses, 7.5 weeks starting Aug 24


HRTS 500:  Advancing Human Rights:  (3 units; required course)

Dr. Bill Simmons 

This course provides an overview of human rights practice and activism.  We will examine grassroots social movements and participatory approaches to human rights activism focusing on the potential ways and means for moving human rights initiatives forward. The focus is on practical methods for assessing, analyzing, and engaging human rights issues.  In Fall 2020 we will likely cover such issues as colonialism and decolonialism, anti-racism movements, recent innovative attempts to find justice for Rohingya refugees, sex worker rights, and trauma and self-care. 


HRTS 543:  Advancing Human Rights through Technology (3 units; elective) 

Dr. Victor Braitberg

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been widely, and often uncritically, embraced as advancing the capabilities of human rights defenders and activists.  While there is no doubt that technologies such as smart phones, social media networks, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), satellite imagery, encryption, and many others have empowered human rights worldwide, these same technologies have been used to surveil, harass, disrupt, and suppress individuals and groups seeking to advance human rights.  Our class will critically assess the capabilities and limitations of currently used and emerging ICTs. Students will work in groups to complete a shareable online report based on research and interviews with leaders in technology and human rights that documents the real-world challenges of implementing and utilizing established and emergent technologies in a wide range of human rights contexts. Scholars who study the ethical and political dimensions of technology and human rights as well as defenders and activists who are breaking new ground using technological applications for advancing human rights will guest lecture.


HRTS 595A: Human Rights across Contexts (3 units; elective)

Dr. Phyllis Tauoa

This course on pro-democracy citizen-led movements in Africa since 2010 builds on Professor Taoua’s 2018 book published by Cambridge University Press:  African Freedom. How Africa Responded to National Independence.  The class will examine five case studies across Africa and engage activists, artists and scholars who are familiar with or involved in these movements.  This course analyzes specific human rights concepts across different regions, societies, cultures, and political frameworks. We begin by exploring the concepts of freedom, human rights and core issues related to social justice in Africa today. We will look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Declaration of Human Rights and Peoples. We will read and discuss the most recent issues that human rights activists are working on in our specific contexts: Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DRC and South Africa. In addition, we will talk to historians, philosophers and musicians about how they see the ongoing struggle for meaningful freedom in Africa today.


HRTS 596A: Human Rights Crises (3 units; elective)

Dr. Jennifer Carlson

Gun violence:  Guns, Trauma & Rights:  this class will take a trauma-centered approach to understanding politics, policies, and practices associated with guns—and their ramifications for human rights. Trauma provides a crucial lens for understanding gun harm as well as grappling with how guns come to figure as solutions to that harm. Accordingly, we will move beyond the terms of the two sides of the US gun debate to take a critical approach that analyzes (1) the material ubiquity of guns in the US and beyond; (2) the multiple forms of gun-related harm and their intersection with axes of inequality such as race, gender, class, sexuality, migration, and beyond; (3) the significance of public law enforcement as gun law enforcers and gun wielders; (4) and the relationship between the right to self-defense, the politics of crime and criminal justice and broader human rights. In addition to decentering the terms of the contemporary US gun debate, this class will also decenter the US experience of guns, integrating global perspectives to better understand the intersection of guns, trauma and rights as multi-faceted and socially located. 


Fall II, 7.5 weeks starting Oct 15


HRTS 510: Advancing International Human Rights Law  (3 units, required course)

Dr. Leonard Hammer 

This course will provide students with an understanding of human rights law and the means for human rights enforcement as found in international, regional, and national processes. Featuring human rights practitioners as guest speakers, the student will acquire the necessary tools for understanding legal processes and some of the issues and pratfalls that they present for human rights actors. 


HRTS 541:  Advancing Human Rights through the Documentary media (3 units, elective course)

Professor Beverly Seckinger

This course surveys current models for making and using documentary media in the service of human rights practice and activism.  Interrogating concepts such as witness, testimony and evidence, historical memory, transmedia storytelling and convergence, strategic partnerships and impact campaigns, and emergent participatory frameworks, the course explores a variety of approaches to media production, exhibition, distribution and advocacy.  Each course module includes interactions with filmmakers and/or media activists in the field via video conferencing; exploring media products such as films, websites and online tutorials; and critical and practical readings.  Students will develop individual term projects in consultation with the instructor.


HRTS 596A:  Human Rights Crises (3 units, elective course)

Dr. Mette Brogden

This course on trauma and human rights will explore trauma sequelae of human rights violations and also secondary trauma sequelae, including for human rights practitioners and students in our program.  We will look at traumatic events, what causes trauma impacts in those who experience the events, lingering impacts of traumatic events and the harms that violence and war, social and economic exclusion can bring to people and societies.  We will interrogate the literature on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as a relatively new literature on post-traumatic growth.  Finally, we will explore how people manage traumatic stress symptoms and PTSD related to human rights violations—either acute violations associated with torture and war/refugee flight sequelae, or long-term violations associated with marginalization, exclusion, racism and other forms of identity discrimination, and structural violence.  We will then turn to ways to manage secondary trauma, including mindfulness, meaning, beauty, nature immersion, and support groups.  Students will submit weekly reflection pieces as well as contribute to discussions.