Fall 2019

The Development, Practice and Challenges Facing the Global Human Rights Movement

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-375

Moodle site: Course


James L. Cavallaro (Section 01)


Over the span of seven decades, the human rights movement has transformed a utopian ideal into a central element of global discourse, if not practice. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, the relevance of human rights to international relations and domestic governance (in much of the world) grew exponentially. Yet in the first two decades of this century, and increasingly in the past few years, the idea and core values animating human rights have come under new and intensifying attacks. This seminar critically examines the growth and practice of the global human rights movement in an increasingly globalized and unequal world. While we consider the role of States in the development of the international human rights framework, and in supporting (or undermining) human rights in practice, our focus is on the role of civil society, that is the global (and local) human rights movement(s). The seminar will consider the origins of the human rights movement, its Western biases, and several vital tensions (Global North vs. Global South, elitist vs. grassroots approaches, legal vs. popular mobilization strategies). We will also study the practice of human rights advocacy, analyzing fact-finding, documentation, and diverse forms of engagement to understand and grapple with the main challenges and dilemmas facing those working on and in rights promotion and defense.

(This seminar does not fulfill the Analytic or Research seminar requirement for the LJST major.)

Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Cavallaro.

If Overenrolled: priority given to AC students and LJST majors


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Issues of Social Justice, Attention to Writing


2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019