PSCI 423
Senior Seminar: Humanitarianism Spring 2024
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

Since the mid-1980s, humanitarianism has been one dominant attitude that powerful and privileged countries, organizations and people have adopted with regard to poverty or disaster elsewhere. Humanitarianism aims at rescue, striving to keep marginal people alive until some solution can be found. It aims not to address crises’ causes nor to assist with solutions–which it considers political–just to keep human bodies alive. Critics contend that humanitarianism produces harm, provides structural incentives for people to do more or less than they need to, and deepens inequality between actors and targets. They contend that it legitimates a view of the status quo, in which such terrible things are bound to happen without real cause. This course confronts humanitarianism as an ideology through reading its defenders and critics, and as a political strategy assessing its usefulness, to whom.
The Class: Format: seminar; three students start class discussion every day; one reads a short (4-page) essay and two read shorter (two-page) essays
Limit: 16
Expected: 16
Class#: 3702
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: three longer essays, six shorter essays, constructive participation
Prerequisites: PSCI 202 and at least one elective in international relations
Enrollment Preferences: Political science seniors then juniors; other seniors, then juniors
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
DPE Notes: This course asks students to investigate the way that assumptions about superiority, and "helping practices" adopting those assumptions, can either reinforce or undermine unequal social and political outcomes and categories. We evaluate liberal and postcolonial (structural violence) models of international aid.
Attributes: PSCI International Relations Courses

Class Grid

Course Catalog Archive Search



Start Time
End Time