Global Human Rights Certificate

Penn Law

Approved Courses

The following courses are offered consistently, and have been approved for the Global Human Rights Certificate. Students are responsible for confirming whether a particular course is offered in a given semester or year. Students may petition for one course outside of this list.

Fall Courses (not offered every year; subject to change)

LAW 759–International Human Rights 

This begins with pre-history, showing the failure of international law to recognize the individual as anything more than a mere appendage of his/her state, without separate legal personality, and then traces the rise of the individual in international law, per medium of the principal instruments that effected the transformation of the status of the individual: the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It then moves to consider a range of major specific areas, within the general field of human rights— civil and political rights, racial discrimination, women’s rights, children’s rights, religious freedom, the prohibition on torture. One of the areas covered by the course, which looks at exceptions to human rights norms, at the point where those norms come in conflict with national security interests.

LGST 922–Human Rights Law and International Business

This course explores how international human rights law is increasingly being treated as setting universal standards that govern the conduct of international business with the aim of promoting a critical awareness of the problems that this entails. Students will acquire a grasp of various theories and cases involving the expansion of human rights law to cover corporations, as well as the ongoing controversies over the nature of the human rights responsibilities that should be incumbent on international business. Seminar participants will be challenged to formulate their own positions regarding this crucial development. (Note: PhD course; the number for this course will be altered to reflect general university numbering for non-Wharton graduate study.)

PUBH 525 - Developing Effective Public Health Programs Using a Human Rights Based Approach

This course engages students in discussion of how a human rights approach, informed by international human rights declarations and covenants as well as gender theory, can more comprehensively inform the development of a variety of public health programs. Specifically, the class will discuss how health policies, programs and practices can impact on human rights (e.g. mandatory reporting of certain communicable diseases, quarantine, accessibility of services, etc.); how violations of human rights affect health (e.g. torture, institutionalized discrimination, limited or no access to education and healthcare, etc.) and how health and human rights are ultimately inextricably linked and programming for public health must use a framework that ensures a balance of interests between the two disciplines. Using a health and human rights-based approach as a lens, students engage in hands-on public health program planning and development practice with a variety of program planning models such as the PRECEDE/PROCEED Model, the Logic Model and the Getting to Outcomes Framework.

HIST 414 - Human Rights and History

The idea of universal, inalienable rights—once dismissed by the philosopher Jeremy Bentham as “nonsense upon stilts”—has become the dominant moral language of our time, the self-evident truth par excellence of our age.  Human rights have become a source of inspiration to oppressed individuals and groups across the world, the rallying cry for a global civil society, and not least, a controversial source of legitimation for American foreign policy. This seminar asks: how did all this come to be?  We will investigate human rights not only as theories embodied in texts, but as practices embedded in specific historical contexts.  Are human rights the product of a peculiarly European heritage, of the Enlightenment and protestantism?  How did Americans reconcile inalienable rights with the reality of slavery? Did human rights serve as a “civilizing” mask for colonialism?  Can universal rights be reconciled with genuine cultural diversity?  Through case studies and close readings, the seminar will work toward a genealogy of human rights.

SWRK 798/AFST 798 - International Social Work: Practicing in the Global South

This course will introduce students to societal problems in the developing world; familiarize them with global professions in social work, education, public health, etc.; and prepare them for overseas/cross-cultural practice. Through the course students will identify numerous strategies and skills social workers and other professionals have used to collaboratively build interventions within the social welfare, education, health care and sustainable community development arenas. This interdisciplinary course will expose students to alternative views of development as they relate to individual, interpersonal, family, community, societal and international change. Students will learn about the history of specific global problems, how cultures affect response, different social services delivery systems, and initiatives aimed at resolution. Students will explore a specific development issue within a country and community i.e. human trafficking, disaster relief, water & sanitation, women’s empowerment, microfinance, etc.

SWRK 798–Critical Race Theory

This course explores Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRT refers to a body of work that emerged during the 1980s and 90s among legal educators to try and explain why there seemingly has been racial progress, on the one hand, through laws and court decisions that outlaw the most visible symbols of racial discrimination, but growing signs of racial inequality, on the other, in education, health, criminal justice, housing, and politics. CRT has spawned and/or influenced new areas of inquiry such as Latino/a critical studies, queer studies, critical race feminism, and critical white studies. Although social work researchers have begun to use CRT ideas such as intersectionality, the application of Critical Race Theory to the field remains largely unexplored.

EDUC 511–Equality

‘All men (or all humans) are created equal’: What does this statement mean? What are we all equal in? What should we be equal in? Do we have equal potential, equal dignity, equal worth? Must we have equal resources, equal opportunities, equal status? In this class we will consider philosophical and political approaches to the idea of equality. In this class the general concept of equality will be presented. The discussion will focus on early modern and contemporary conceptions of human beings as equal in some factual facet of their existence. The notion of equality as sameness will be explored along with some critiques.

EDUC 723–Multicultural Issues in Education

This course examines critical issues, problems, and perspectives in multicultural education. Intended to focus on access to literacy and educational opportunity, the course will engage class members in discussions around a variety of topics in educational practice, research, and policy. Specifically, the course will (1) review theoretical frameworks in multicultural education, (2) analyze the issues of race, racism, and culture in historical and contemporary perspective, and (3) identify obstacles to participation in the educational process by diverse cultural and ethnic groups. Students will be required to complete field experiences.

LAW 962Terrorism and International Law (Formerly Human Rights and National Security)

This explores the limits of international human rights- at the point where national security considerations and interests trigger exceptions to human rights norms, thereby creating a tension between the two. The campaign by numerous states and international organizations against Al Qaeda and other non-state terrorist actors raises several critical questions for international law. This seminar provides an introduction to several of the most important debates. Topics covered include: the definition of terrorism; multilateral counter-terrorism treaties; the role of the UN in global counter-terrorism; the use of military force against terrorist organizations and the states that support them; the detention and treatment of suspected terrorists; the prosecution of suspected terrorists in various fora; and the rendition of suspected terrorists outside normal law enforcement channels. In the process, we examine aspects of the law of armed conflict, human rights law, the law of international organizations, and international criminal law.

LAW 655–Transnational Legal Clinic: Fieldwork (Open to Law Students Only)

Students will be engaged in “front-line” work in actual cases under close faculty supervision as well as in weekly seminar study of the course material. Working in teams of two or more, students in the Transnational Legal Clinic engage in direct representation of individual and organizational clients in immigration and human rights cases and projects. Representation may encompass advocacy before administrative agencies or courts or before governmental agencies or international organizations focused on the promotion of human rights. Students are expected to assume responsibility for all aspects of client representation and legal advocacy, while exploring differences in culture, language and legal systems.  Clinic has limited enrollment with preference given to third-year students.

Spring Courses (not offered every year; subject to change)

PSCI 558–Human Rights 

What exactly should be considered a fundamental “human right” in international politics?  What is the basis for saying something is a fundamental human right?  This course will examine the conceptual, historical and political foundations of contemporary human rights debates.   The course will cover not only broad conceptual debates, but also focus on the politics of international human rights discussions, specific issue areas (e.g., civil rights, economic rights, women’s rights, children’s rights), as well as the question of how new rights norms emerge in international relations.

LAW 660–Public International Law

This course introduces students to the legal rules and institutions that govern the international political system. The course provides a formal introduction to international law and emphasizes the relationships between law and politics in the behavior of states, institutions, and individuals in world politics. Topics include: international economic law and the debates surrounding the WTO; international criminal law and the International Criminal Court; the protection of human rights; the use of force and the invasions of Kosovo and Iraq; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the future of the United Nations.

LGST 524–Human Rights and Globalization

The 2000 UN Global Compact and the 2003 UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights have confirmed the role of TNCs as central actors in the field of international human rights law. This course introduces students to how international human rights law is currently being expanded to capture the operations of TNCs and why this development is controversial. The course examines competing perspectives on the pros and cons of imposing human rights responsibilities on businesses based in capital-exporting countries that are operating in emerging economies. Perspectives of various governments, businesses, international institutions, academics, and NGOs on issues of human rights and globalization will be considered, and a variety of case studies will be analyzed.

SWRK 763– Immigration: Policy and Practice

This course will begin with the history of migration to the US, as well as legal definitions of newcomers, including obtaining documents for lawful permanent residence, refugee status, as well as grounds for exclusion and deportation, and paths to naturalized citizenship. We will then review how a framework of cultural competence, and a strength or asset-based approach can inform service to immigrant clients.  The core portion of the course will then focus first on the intersection of immigrants and health, mental health, employment, crimes, public entitlements, and public education.  The course will conclude with family issues relevant to immigrant families: women, children, lesbian and gay, and elderly immigrants. Public policy issues will be integrated throughout, and the course will end with specific suggestions on systems change at various levels.   By the end of the course students should be able to identify strategies for individual clients advocacy (micro); agency and community strategies (mezzo), and  government advocacy (macro) to empower immigrant clients to become full community participants.

Law 678–Law and the Holocaust

This is the prequel to international human rights, as the Holocaust was the catalyst for the whole human rights movement of the post-World War II era. The course finishes with a survey of the five principal pillars of the human rights movement, and demonstrates how each was in fact a measure-for-measure reaction to the Holocaust, and the dehumanization by the Nazis of their victims. The course leads to a grasp of the human rights movement at a very profound level, showing, as it does, the origins of the movement, and what was intended to be prevented by the new system.

LAW 643–China and International Law

This seminar examines contemporary China’s approach to international law, focusing on how China has understood and addressed key principles and doctrines of international law, and on international legal disputes and actions that have been important for China (including Taiwan and Hong Kong). Specific topics to be covered include China’s approach to sources of international law, treaties, statehood and sovereignty, the relationship between domestic and international law, state jurisdiction, immunity and responsibility, international dispute resolution, the law of the sea, human rights, the use of force and international economic law. In each of these areas, the course addresses concrete contemporary controversies as well as broader patterns and underlying issues.

LAW 606–Refugee Law

This studies the response of the international legal system to the after-effects of major human rights tragedies, which push large numbers of refugees across national borders, creating massive dislocation and other serious problems. Students gain an understanding of both international and US law, including regulations and cases, on treatment of individuals who leave because of human rights violations, on account of their race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion. Students apply theory to practice by meeting with asylum seekers (e.g. from Africa, fleeing the crisis in Chad, or genocide n the Darfur region of Sudan). 

PHIL 578- Topics in Political Philosophy

This seminar examines various topics in contemporary political philosophy, such as distributive justice, political authority and legitimacy, associative obligations, political equality and democracy.

PUBH 551– Global Health Policy and Delivery

This participatory interdisciplinary seminar course examines contemporary issues in global health policy and delivery. The overall organizing framework for the class is the social determinants of health. The class will consider evidence that inequalities in education, income, and occupation influence health status. Students will develop skills in policy analysis, policy brief development, and policy impact monitoring. The public policy process will be explored using a variety of contemporary global health case studies which focus on content areas such as maternal health, HIV policy, refugee health and global healthcare delivery. Finally, we will examine the global health workforce and the impact of widespread global migration of health professionals on receiving and sending countries.

EDUC 594–Diversity in Higher Education 

This course explores issues of diversity as they pertain to higher education, including race, ethnicity, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, ideology, etc. Rather than focusing on specific populations of people, the course will tackle issues of diversity within the context of concrete higher education functions and problems.

Summer Courses (not offered every year; subject to change)

SWRK 772–Post-colonial Social Work Practice: International Social Welfare in India

In this course, students examine the global welfare system and its engagement with marginalized communities. This six-week course in Kolkata, India, centers around a sex workers’ collaborative in Sonagachi, one of Asia’s largest red light districts. Interviews with the collaborative’s workers and study of their grassroots movement are combined with class discussions and research projects in which students engage with texts on HIV, sex work, feminist postcolonial theory and international social work