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The Legacy of Human Rights

Sarita Cargas,

Course Description
Every nation on Earth has accepted the language of human rights. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR, was adopted East and West. Every single nation state has adopted one, if not all ten, of the human rights conventions that make up the body of international human rights law. This course will examine how it is that scholars can argue that human rights are truly universal. We will look at the texts and events throughout history that have contributed to the idea of rights, and we will examine the current debates.   We will also study current issues in human rights.

Readings and Texts

The books are: The Evolution of Human Rights: Visions Seen by Paul Gordon Lauren 

Either: I am Malala, Malala Yousafzai or A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah 

Films and Other Course Materials
A reader filled a variety of primary sources including excerpts from a slave memoir, scenes from a play, treaties, declarations, and conventions and much more.

Films and documentary clips include Amistad, Eleanor Roosevelt, and modern news stories.

Every student will bring in a contemporary song that relates to topics in the class.


Student Requirements
Students will be expected (and taught) to read texts closely, and to read documents thoroughly. Short writing assignments will help students analyze the various readings. Critical thinking will be explicitly discussed and expected. Participation in class discussion is required as it's essential in helping students' form and express opinions.

About the Instructor

Sarita Cargas earned her doctorate at Oxford University in the UK. She is a graduate of St. John's College and Georgetown University. Her research interest has been in psychology, the study of war, theology, and currently in human rights. Dr. Cargas is writing a book about the nature and content of human rights. Her teaching philosophy is student centered which means she uses various classroom activities to engage students with the material and develop life long habits for critical thinking.