Professor James von Geldern in international studies teaches this course where students use broad materials to focus on the evolution and definition of key concepts. Students learn about “universal” rights, regional and international institutions, core documents, the role of states, and current topics of interest to the human rights movement.

Why should I take this course? 

Human rights are always under challenge, whether it be in Myanmar, Syria, or the Twin Cities. Minnesota is a great place to study human rights, because it has a wealth of immigrant and refugee communities that are vital parts of our culture; and because some of the world’s most admired human rights organizations are based right here. Leading human rights advocates love to visit our class and meet our students, who often go on to work for them and become human rights advocates after they graduate.

Thought papers

  • When does the freedom of speech yield to the need to exclude harmful and discriminatory ideas? 
  • When is a State’s moral responsibility to assist refugees outweighed by the welfare of its citizens and its sovereignty?

Two short (two-page) thought papers addressing the questions above compose 20 percent of your grade. The purpose of a thought paper is to state a thesis and support it with evidence and rhetorical vigor. 

Make the most of this class

Take advantage of what we talk about in class to do an internship with one of the many refugee or human rights organizations in the Twin Cities. Mac students have been benefiting from this for years, and the organizations know our students well.

How we build community 

I make sure that everyone talks and shares their opinions. Many of the subjects we talk about are very controversial, and I make sure that all sides of an argument are covered. Students quickly get used to the open atmosphere; and I know that the class has become a community when everyone is already talking to each other before I get there in the morning.

November 3 2021

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