Skip to main content

Core Curriculum

Human Rights in a Global World

Human Rights in a Global World

Facilitator: Catherine Montfort, Modern Languages

The variety of associated courses in this Pathway reflects the importance of theories of universal human rights and their applications to a multitude of issues involving oppressed and disadvantaged human groups around the globe. Most current debates focus on historical or contemporary cases of discrimination based on racial identity, gender, caste, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and age, which have produced deep social and economic inequalities, often given rise to violence, and occasionally led to ethnic cleansing and mass murder. At the same time, critics of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 also debate whether its definition of human rights exceeds what individuals can fairly demand from society and the state. Enforcing laws based on a concept of human rights often produces controversy.

Laws protecting the rights of minorities, immigrants, and/or refugees can infringe on what rival social groups consider to be their human rights. The definition of who is human, and thus deserving of these rights, also raises complex social, ethical and legal issues. If the unborn child, fertilized egg or even unfertilized egg is legally defined as a rights-bearing human being, how might that legal definition impinge on the rights of women and the general public? Can we even take for granted the universal applicability to other cultural traditions of human rights that were invented in the Enlightenment and expanded in Western thought and practice since then? Must we recognize a cultural bias in our own claims for human rights when we encounter cultures with a different social logic in keeping with their own religious and philosophical understandings? These are only some of the probing questions that any student who embarks on a Pathway on human rights in a global world will encounter.

Associated Courses

Foundations Courses
(Please note that only the specific Foundation course topics qualify for the Pathway requirements,
and only one Foundations course may be applied to a Pathway)

ENGL         2A         Global Rights and Perceptions (effective 9/1/09)
ENGL         12A       Justice & Literature (effective 9/1/09)
ENGL         12A       Rebellion & Conformity (effective 9/1/09)
HIST          12H       Rebellion & Conformity (effective 9/1/09)
HIST          12A       Slavery and Unfreedom (effective 9/1/09)
HNRS         12A       Rebellion & Conformity (effective 9/1/09)
PHIL           12A       Personal Identity & Community (effective 9/1/12)
PHIL           12H       Personal Identity and Community (effective 9/1/12)
PHIL           12A       Personhood and Human Dignity (effective 9/1/12)
POLI           2A         Making Change Happen (effective 9/1/09)
WGST         12A       Women in Transnational Perspective (effective 9/1/09)

Art History
*ARTH        143        Women's Work: American Women in the Visual Arts (cross-listed with WGST 156; formerly ARTH 188; effective 9/1/09)
*ARTH        144        Race, Gender, and Nation in the 18th and 19th Century American Art (effective 9/1/09)
*ARTH        145        Perpetual Revolution: American Art in the 20th Century (effective 9/1/09)
ARTH          185        Post-Modern and Contemporary Art (formerly ARTH 183; effective 9/1/10)

Economics
*ECON        135        Gender Issues in the Developing World (cross-listed with WGST 121; effective 9/1/09)

English
ENGL          150EL     Contemporary Literature (effective 9/1/10)
ENGL          152        LGBTQ Studies: U.S. Perspectives (cross-listed as WGST 136; effective 9/1/09)
ENGL          153        LGBTQ Studies: Global Perspectives (cross-listed with WGST 122; effective 9/1/09)
ENGL          156        Global Literatures (effective 9/1/12)
ENGL          165        Studies in African Literature (effective 9/1/09)
ENGL          166        Pan-African Literature (effective 9/1/09)

History
HIST           102S      Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide in the 20th Century (formerly HIST 102; effective 9/1/09)
HIST           112        The Haitian Revolution in World History and Memory (effective 9/1/10)
HIST           115S      Gender, Race, and Citizenship in the Atlantic World (effective 9/1/15)
HIST           118        Representation, Rights, and Democracy, 1050-1792 (effective 9/1/09)
HIST           121        Saving the World?: A Critical History of Human Rights and Humanitarianism (effective 10/21/2016)
HIST           122        The Holocaust (effective 4/1/17) 
HIST           130        France and the World (effective 9/1/09)
HIST           130A      The French Enlightenment and Revolution in a Global Context (effective 9/1/10)
HIST           130B      Late Modern France & the World (effective 9/1/10)
HIST           140S      Biography and Autobiography in the African Experience: Exploring African Lives and Writing (effective 3/25/16)

International
INTL            139        Field Placement/Praxis (effective 9/1/09)

Modern Languages and Literatures
FREN           112         Human Rights in French, Black Africa and the Caribbean (taught in English; effective 12/9/2015)

Peace & Conflict Resolution
SIS             486-900T      Peace & Conflict Resolution Seminar (American University Washington Semester Program)

Philosophy
PHIL            108         Special Topics: Applied Ethics (The Moral and Legal Status of Prenatal Humans; Nelson; formerly PHIL 119)
PHIL            110         Classic Issues in Ethics (formerly PHIL 121; effective 1/1/2016)
PHIL            118         Ethics and Constitutional Law (effective 9/1/09; formerly PHIL 113)
PHIL            121         Classic Issues in Ethics: Global Human Rights (effective 1/1/2016)

Religious Studies
*RSOC        33           Maya Spirituality (effective 9/1/09)
*RSOC        136         Religion in Latin America (effective 9/1/09)
*SCTR         128         Human Suffering and Hope (effective 9/1/09)
*SCTR         157         The Bible and Empire (cross-listed as WGST 153; effective 9/1/09)
*SCTR         158         Postcolonial Perspectives in the New Testament (effective 9/1/09)
*TESP          46          Faith, Justice, & Poverty (effective 9/1/09)
*TESP          46H        Faith, Justice, & Poverty: Honors (effective 11/25/2015)

Women's and Gender Studies
*WGST         121        Gender Issues in the Developing World (cross-listed with ECON 135; effective 9/1/09)
WGST           122        Studies in Global Gay and Lesbian Cultures (cross-listed with ENGL 153; effective 9/1/09)
WGST           136        LGBTQ Studies: U.S. Perspectives (cross-listed with ENGL 152; effective 9/1/09)
*WGST         147        Postcolonial Perspectives in the New Testament (cross-listed with SCTR 158; effective 9/1/09)
*WGST         153        The Bible and Empire (cross-listed as SCTR 157; effective 6/23/2016)
*WGST         156        American Women in the Visual Arts (cross-listed with ARTH 143; effective 9/1/09)
WGST           169        Gender, Race, and Citizenship in the Atlantic World (cross-listed with HIST 115; effective 9/1/09)

* Indicates Course Has Prerequisites