L&S Curricular Connections

L&S Discovery Courses

LS C140V / History C187

The History and Practice of Human Rights

Historical Studies; Social and Behavioral Sciences

Law & Humanities Course Thread; Human Rights Course Thread

What are human rights? Where did they originate and when? Who retains them, and when are we obliged to defend them? Through what kinds of institutions, practices, and frameworks have they been advocated and affirmed? And which are the human rights that we take to be self-evident? The rights to speak and worship freely? To legal process? To shelter and nourishment? Is health care a human right? If so, can human rights ever be global in scope? Or is the idea of universal human rights a Eurocentric delusion or, worse, a neoliberal ploy? History will not answer these questions for us, but historical understanding can help us answer them for ourselves.

With a focus on the last two centuries, and especially the late twentieth century to the present, “The History and Practice of Human Rights” offers historical perspective on some of today’s most challenging issues, from state violence, military intervention, and international justice, to inequality, corporate abuse and environmental disaster. Much of our analysis of these topics will center on the law, but we will also consider how the media and social movements have influenced the emergence of human rights thought and practice around the world.

Terms Offered

  • Fall 2022
  • Fall 2020
  • Fall 2018
  • Fall 2016
  • Fall 2013
  • Fall 2012
Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann faculty profile
Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann (History)