Fall 2012 Fourth year seminars HOPR 4953

HOPR 4953, Section 901
Human Rights: An Interdisciplinary Approach
Chad Kleist, Philosophy

Description: Human rights proponents are the most powerful justice-advocates of our time.  From genocide in Darfur to poverty in America, people have cried in the name of human rights.  Organizations around the globe have appealed, in various ways, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) for a guide to what constitutes a rights violation.  While human rights advocates are certainly fighting for a good cause, they are not without critics.  Feminists, non-Westerns, anti-Colonialists and others have argued that the language of human rights is morally loaded, and ought, to be examined critically.  Some of the following questions have been raised. What is the origin of human rights? Must human rights apply to all human beings, or can we have group rights—for example, women and children?  Is there an implicit Western bias built into the language of human rights?  If we abandon the project of human rights, are we no longer committed to acts of justice?  In this course, we will begin to address these issues, and many more, from an interdisciplinary approach of human rights proponents and their critics.  We will be reading texts from philosophy (including gender, race and queer theory), literature, theology, political science, and history.  Furthermore, we will watch documentaries that raise provocative questions about whether we want to approach global injustices from a human rights perspective.

HOPR 4953, Section 902
Literature and Culture:  “Literature and Law”
Dr. Christine L. Krueger, Professor, English

This course examines the proposition that just social policy and ethical action demand comprehensive critical thinking which includes empathy and imagination as well as logical analysis.  We will pursue four themes:  class and economic justice; racial justice; gender justice; and the ethics of intellectual property.  These themes will be addressed primarily through legal and literary modes of representation and argument, drawing also on historical, statistical, and theoretical materials.  The purpose of this multidisciplinary approach is to enable you to acquire a variety of interpretive and rhetorical skills, to refine critical skills by comparing the relative values of various modes of representation, and to master the construction of persuasive and useful arguments about controversial subjects, synthesizing the best features of a range analytical and representational methods.  As an Honors Program seminar, this course invites you to draw on the range of knowledge areas you have studied and experiences you have gained and gain skills necessary for you to lead social justice change after graduation.  

HOPR 4953, Section 903
Social Construction of Reality
Angelique Harris, Assistant Professor of Sociology

How do we know what we know? How do we know what is real? This course examines the notion of reality and how our social realities are constructed. Through the examination of social science research, we will explore both social and cultural perspectives of reality and their influence on our perceptions of the social world. Social interaction as well as its impact on the individual and personality formation will also be examined. Particular focus will be placed on the influences of advertising, entertainment, and, in particular, social institutions, on constructing our collective realities.


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