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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. (This includes the so-called Asian Values debate which claims that human rights are a tool of Western oppression.) Thus, we will study the contributions of the major world religions and philosophies as well as the important events in the West that determined the language of human rights. We’ll study how the historic UDHR came to be written and what the status of it’s legacy is at present.

Readings and Texts

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

(A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) by Mary Ann Glendon

Films and Other Course Materials

Primary Sources include: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The French Revolution's Rights of Man and Citizen, Declaration on Independence, various drafts of the UDHR and documents gathered for writing it.

films: Eleanor Roosevelt, and Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady of the World

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.