PSCI 328
Human Rights Claims in International Politics Fall 2021
Division II Writing Skills

Class Details

For decades, people and countries have used “human rights” to advance their position, delegitimize their opposition, and lodge their interests in an unassailable political category. This research seminar investigates who uses this category, to what ends, and with what success. How people ground this concept–what they think its origin is–does matter, but evaluating those foundations is not our focus. Politics is our focus. Who gains and loses from the idea that people have human rights? Does the concept fit well with, and reinforce, some institutions and configurations of power, and make others difficult to sustain (or even to conceive)? Why not simply claim that something is an interest rather than also a right? How has “human rights” been deployed in international politics, and by whom? The class is divided into four sections. The first concentrates on common readings on these questions, and prioritizes discussion, explication, and hypothesis brainstorming. The second introduces social science methodology, covering hypotheses, literature reviews, and evidence while continuing half time with materials about human rights. The third emphasizes research design, allowing students to finalize their own project while bringing in primary sources such as original documents, debates, and data. The last quarter of class focuses on student projects, on integrating and revising research to produce a set of findings and an evaluation of their meaning. The course is designed to teach political science majors the nuts, and maybe also the bolts, of social science research.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 1695
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Class discussion, short writing, worksheets, peer reviews, drafts of various sections, final paper, final presentation
Prerequisites: Two classes in political science, at least one of which must be in international politics.
Enrollment Preferences: Political science majors
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
WS Notes: Students write frequent short pieces, and revise/rewrite an increasingly long draft in sections over the course of the semester.
Attributes: PSCI International Relations Courses
PSCI Research Courses

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