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IHP/Comparative: Human Rights: Foundations, Challenges, and Advocacy

IHP/Comparative: Human Rights: Foundations, Challenges, and Advocacy

Investigate the historical and social contexts of diverse human rights movements, including the roles of culture, political economy, and international law in four different countries.

This program examines the rhetoric and reality of human rights using an issues-based approach. Peacebuilding, truth and reconciliation, civil liberties, humanitarian intervention, environmental justice, gender equity, and labor rights are just a few of the inroads the program takes to pose a broader inquiry on the nature of human rights and its variance across borders.

Key questions include:

  • How are human rights universal?
  • What are the root causes that incite struggles for human rights in different locations?
  • What impacts do international institutions such as the UN have on securing human rights?
  • What is the role of popular mobilization and activism? How can solidarity across borders be built on a human rights platform?
 

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Human Rights Contexts in the Countries to be Visited

United States

The program launches in New York City in order to critically examine the United States’ relationship to human rights. New York City is an ideal launch site for the program, as it is home to many of the largest international human rights bodies, from the United Nations to Amnesty International. Visits to such agencies offer both historical perspectives on human rights and insights into the contemporary practice of human rights organizations internationally. The program also meets with a diversity of community organizers, city officials, and activists working to advance human rights causes in New York City such as the right to housing, immigrant rights, anti-racism in the criminal justice system, workers’ rights, and LGBTQ rights.

Nepal

NepalNepal emerged in 2006 as a parliamentary democracy after a decade of armed conflict pitting Maoist rebels against a long-standing Hindu monarchy. It officially became a republic in 2008. The nation-building process has been long, and students are exposed to its intricacies, from developing a viable constitution that guarantees equal rights in a multi-ethnic country to confrontations with impunity for wartime abuses including enforced disappearances, rape, torture, and extrajudicial executions. In Kathmandu, students meet with lawyers and activists who are working to ensure a more just future in Nepal. Our study also extends to the complicated politics of the everyday. Students meet grassroots organizers for issues as wide-ranging as urban squatters’ rights, the precarious livelihoods of Tibetan refugees, the rights of street children, and the security of sex workers. We also spend one week on a rural excursion in the Himalayas, learning about access to education, fair trade, sustainable development, and environmental justice in Nepal.

Jordan

Jordan is a safe haven in the regional upheavals that distinguish the Arab Spring. Nevertheless, Jordan is in a period of reforming the laws that define its constitutional monarchy and posit a terrain for the possibilities of rights. During their stay in Amman, students meet with a Parliament member and other government officials, explore gender rights in the Islamic world, connect with investigative journalists defending the rights of media, and learn to appreciate the magnitude of the “security state.” Jordan is also the recipient of thousands of Syrian, Iraqi, and Palestinian refugees. The program interacts with refugees to better understand the complex situation they face and to recognize the role the UN and international charities play in moderating life inside and outside of refugee camps. Additionally, students make excursions to historic sites such as Mount Nebo, Petra, the Dead Sea, and the Red Sea, and they go camping in the desert sands of Wadi Rum.

Chile

ChileThe rich political history of Chile provides fertile ground for analyses of human rights struggles. After the end of the Pinochet dictatorship, a transition to democracy has been entwined with both the reconciliation of history and the continuation of neoliberal policies that make Chile a profoundly unequal society. Students spend half of their stay in Santiago and visit sites such as the Museum of Memory and Human Rights and Villa Grimaldi. They also meet with student activists leading the cause for equal access to education, feminist leaders, historians, and officials from the UN and multiple NGOs. The second component takes place in the Mapuche territories of southern Chile on farms in the Andes. Students are immersed in indigenous communities that negotiate the challenges of large-scale natural resource extraction, dam-building, and industrial agriculture, along with racial discrimination. The program concludes in Chile with a student retreat at La Isla Negra, the oceanfront residence of poet and Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda.

Prerequisites:

Coursework in social sciences, such as anthropology, history, economics, sociology, and/or political science. Humanities coursework (philosophy, religion, and/or ethics) is also recommended.

Access Virtual Library Guide

The program takes a holistic, interdisciplinary view of academic topics, drawing not only on articles and faculty lectures, but also student observations, guest lectures, and homestay interviews to facilitate learning. Assignments could involve written essays, oral presentations, and/or more creative projects such as posters and photo stories.

Students enrolled in this program take all courses listed below for a total of 16 credits.

The following syllabi are either from a recent session of this program or for an upcoming session. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Foundations and Frameworks of Human Rights - syllabus
(HMRT 3000 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
The United Nations articulated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Using that historic moment as a point of departure, this course employs the UN framework as a preliminary lens to examine and understand how basic social and economic rights are contested globally. International safeguards for rights embodied in supranational organizations and national legal systems will be discussed. Current human rights conditions, threats, and protections will be examined in each country studied. The meaning of a human rights discourse in the political economy of development, as well as in defining the role of the security state, will be foregrounded at each field site.

Comparative Issues in Human Rights - syllabus
(HMRT 3500 / 4 credits/ 60 hours)
Through selected readings, focused discussions, and case studies, this course critically considers an array of current human rights challenges. Among them are the conflicts between national sovereignty and human rights, such as international humanitarian interventions; how universal rights are imbricated with the nuances of culture, ethnicity, and religion; and how national governments affirm and protect human rights in written law, yet simultaneously compromise rights in the realm of politics, economics, media, and social well-being. Human rights questions involving labor conditions, migration, environmental crises, freedom of the media, and the accountability of multinational corporations are explored comparatively within and across program sites.

The Role of Civil Society: Grassroots Movements and Nongovernmental Organizations - syllabus
(SDIS 3320 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
This course focuses on the practical aspects of advocacy and the protection of human rights by nongovernmental organizations and grassroots, popular movements. Through case studies, interviews, and visits to local organizers of advocacy groups, students learn how popular movements are launched and developed, as well as strategies to navigate legal, political, and public arenas. The course contrasts the role, agendas, and the effectiveness of grassroots organizations with those of governmental, private sector, and supranational stakeholders. Students will meet with local activists and officials who advocate for various human rights agendas to learn about successful and unsuccessful campaigns and to evaluate the use of inquiries, documentation, public outreach, legal action, and other approaches to protecting rights.

Fieldwork Ethics and Comparative Research Methods - syllabus
(ANTH 3500 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
This course provides students with the theoretical, conceptual, and practical knowledge for gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information from a range of primary sources. It offers insights for assessing students’ own cultural assumptions and for understanding other cultures. Students are familiarized with the SIT Human Subjects Review Policy. The course is the foundation for a cumulative study project involving research in three countries and culminating in a paper and presentation at the end of the semester.

These letters home are from previous terms. Site locations may vary from term to term.

Letters Home: Human Rights

May 7, 2014
Letter Home from Santiago, Chile
A digital letter home from students on the IHP Human Rights: Foundations, Challenges, and Advocacy Spring 2014 program:  
April 8, 2014
Letter Home from Amman, Jordan
A Letter Home from students on the IHP Human Rights: Foundations, Challenges, and Advocacy Spring 2014 program: Kathmandu was a hard city to leave behind.  I’m no urban studies major, but there is a certain energy to the winding narrow streets, the fractals of courtyards that direct the vibrant car and foot traffic bustling colorfully […]
March 28, 2014
Letter Home from Kathmandu, Nepal
A Letter Home from students on the IHP Human Rights: Foundations, Challenges, and Advocacy program:   Transitions from one country to another are often the most challenging aspect of IHP. In this picture, we are just arriving to Nepal, and as you can see, sleep deprivation has kicked in. Nevertheless, ourexcitement of being in a […]

The faculty/staff team shown on this page is a sample of the individuals who may lead your specific program. Faculty and coordinators are subject to change to accommodate each program’s unique schedule and locations.

Padmini Biswas, PhD, Program Director

Padmini BiswasPadmini Biswas received her doctorate in urban planning from Columbia University in 2011. She has a master's degree with distinction from the London School of Economics and Political Science (2001), and dual undergraduate degrees in English literature (Vassar College, 1997) and civil engineering (The Cooper Union, 2000). Her dissertation research compared the organizing strategies of highly skilled and low-skilled South Asian immigrants in the New York metropolitan area in their respective campaigns for labor rights, each of which engaged international human rights law in pursuit of economic justice. She has served for several years as the assistant director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, a forum for research in critical geography at the CUNY Graduate Center. From 1999 to 2003, she founded and edited Salt, a community-based literary journal supported by the New York State Council on the Arts.

Dema Al Oun, Country Coordinator, Jordan

Dema received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law from Jordan University. She has completed her required legal training and is expecting to take the Jordanian Bar exam shortly. She is qualified in many aspects of both civil and criminal law within Jordan and has completed over 35 training courses in legal issues. These courses dealt with civil and criminal law, and several pertained specifically to the rights of the child or the rights of women. Additionally, she is trained in international treaties and agreements pertaining to related human rights issues. Since 2004, she has volunteered at the National Center for Human Rights in Jordan, and is a member of Talal Abu-Ghazala, a famous law firm in Jordan which trains in civil and criminal law. Her past experience includes two and a half years in a law firm as a legal trainer. She has been the homestay coordinator at SIT since 2008, and was advisor for SIT students studying topics related to women, culture, and youth.

Radoš Piletic, Country Coordinator, Chile

Radoš Piletic is senior development consultant with the Observatorio Ciudadano, a Chilean human rights organization with niche expertise in the rights of indigenous people, political participation, and globalization and human rights. Previously, he was senior development officer at the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in Geneva, Switzerland, where he contributed to building the capacity of the ICJ's regional programs in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and the CIS, and Latin America. Prior to the ICJ he worked as senior development officer at the NYU School of Law, strengthening the work of the school's public interest, human rights, environmental law, and international studies centers and institutes. Earlier, he worked as a development officer for the New York Foundation for the Arts. Radoš holds a master's degree in international affairs from the New School University. He has conducted research on international cultural policy in post-conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina; amnesties in the peace processes in Chile, Mozambique, and Cambodia; and assessment of human rights in Chile. He is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, and lives with his family in Santiago, Chile.

Yanik Shrestha, Country Coordinator, Nepal

Yanik ShresthaYanik is the director of Passage International, which facilitates experiential education and global understanding by creating opportunities for students to live and learn abroad. He has been working intermittently with study abroad programs since 2002. He has also assisted in guiding several treks in Nepal and India, for Passage as well as for other trek operators.

A man with eclectic tastes and passion, in 2002 Yanik participated in the No Education: No Freedom, No Opportunity seminar in Germany, organized by GTZ, on “whether education should be liberalized or not.” He was involved in an Antenna Foundation project — a dramatized TV series broadcast on the national TV channel that raised issues on women’s rights and attempted to break taboos through the program. He had the opportunity to work with two of Nepal's most acclaimed comedians Madan Krishna Shrestha and Hari Bansha Acharya during the project. He has been working in radio since 2005, first with Hits FM 91.2, a 24-hour commercial radio station. At present he is associated with Revolution Radio, an online radio station. He is also a part of a hip-hop/slam poetry group, Word Warriors. The group has played a big role in inspiring other young poets to use poetry and music as mediums of expression.

Clelia Rodriguez, Traveling Faculty

Clelia RodriguezClelia O. Rodríguez is joining SIT after teaching at the University of Toronto; Washington College; and, most recently, the University of Ghana. She received her BA, with specialized honors, in Spanish literature from York University and earned her MA and PhD degrees from the University of Toronto, specializing in contemporary Spanish literature. She also completed the Graduate Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies at the Women & Gender Studies Institute, also at the University of Toronto. 

In her doctoral dissertation, she conducted research in Equatorial Guinea in order to examine the narratives of four contemporary Equatorial Guinean writers whose texts are bound together by their attempt to question and re-write the history of their country through fictional discourse. Although her research focused on this Spanish-speaking African country, she possesses international expertise conducting interdisciplinary research and teaching drawing on cultural, gender, transoceanic, memory, trauma, and postcolonial studies (Spain, Mexico, Cuba, the United States, El Salvador, Ghana, and Canada).

The bulk of her teaching and professional development at the undergraduate and graduate levels has centered primarily on ethical questions of justice and human rights in regards to the personal and political agency of marginalized individuals and societies throughout the globe in fictional and non-fictional literary and cultural texts.

Mamamdi Matlhako, Traveling Faculty

Mamamdi MathakoMamadi Matlhako is a sociologist who earned her BA in political science and sociology from University of the North in South Africa, an MA and a PhD in sociology from Emory University. She has worked in higher education for more than 15 years as both teacher and administrator at Emory University, James Madison University, St. Norbert College, Purchase College, and Empire State College.

Mamadi's research interests include international comparative education, comparative transitional justice, and human rights. Mamadi has conducted research on poverty in South Africa, the relationship between education and economic growth, political and economic understandings of education restructuring, and policy reforms in Southern Africa. In addition to teaching and research, Mamadi works on advocacy and outreach for advancing quality of life for marginalized groups. She was a board member for African refugees based in Staten Island, NY (2009–2011), and works with a small NGO in Alexandra, South Africa. She also worked for the United States Peace Corps in Swaziland prior to attending Emory University. Mamadi resides in the Bronx, NY, and is a native of Tembisa Township in South Africa.

Weddy Worjroh, Trustees Fellow, Fall

Weddy WorjrohA 2010 alumna of SIT Study Abroad, Weddy Worjroh graduated from Villanova University in 2012 with a double major in global interdisciplinary studies and sociology, concentrating in peace and justice studies with minors in Spanish and Africana studies. Upon graduating, she worked as an English teaching assistant on a Fulbright grant to Argentina, where she immersed herself into the culture of Argentine Patagonia. A strong advocate for immigrants’ rights, she has conducted research on immigrant integration and worked extensively with nonprofit organizations serving immigrant communities in Philadelphia, Spain, and Argentina. Weddy has combined her passion for social justice and art by co-producing an award-winning documentary, Out of the Shadows, which highlights the experiences of undocumented immigrant youth in Philadelphia. She is also an avid photographer and enjoys tasting food from around the world.

Jessica French Smith, Trustees Fellow, Spring

Jessica French Smith is an alumna of SIT Study Abroad. She graduated from Wesleyan University with a BA in anthropology and Latin American studies. She has worked in direct services with survivors of domestic violence and most recently in foreclosure prevention in New York City. She has also dedicated seven years to coordinating high school and college experiential learning trips in Nicaragua. She will be graduating from the New School for Public Engagement in December 2014 with an MA in international affairs, with a concentration in governance and rights. Her interests include housing rights, LGBTQ issues, right to the city, and growing things.

Throughout the program, students will live primarily with host families. Homestays give students the chance to gain a closer view of the local culture and to experience the daily rhythm of life as a member of a host family. Homestays provide further context and perspectives on issues being studied, and new opportunities to deepen cultural understanding.

IndiaFamily structures vary in every place, and SIT Study Abroad values the diversity of homestay families. For example, your family may include a single mother of two small children or a large extended family with many people coming and going all the time. Please bear in mind that, in many countries, the idea of what constitutes a “home” (i.e., the physical nature of the house) may be different from what you expect. You will need to be prepared to adapt to a new life with a new diet, a new schedule, new people, and possibly new priorities and expectations.
 
Country coordinators in each location will arrange homestay placements. In most cases, students will be placed in homestays in pairs. These placements are made first based on health concerns, including any allergies or dietary needs, to the extent possible. You will not receive information about your homestay family before you arrive in each country.

Other accommodations could include guesthouses and/or small hotels.

Program Dates: Spring 2015

Program Start Date:  Jan 19, 2015

Program End Date:    May 3, 2015

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   Nov 1, 2014

 

SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $16,600

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Group airfare and group related travel
  • Group excursions
  • Emergency sickness and accident insurance
  • Books
  • Other direct program expenses

Airfare: $4,000

  • Group airfare and group related travel

Room & Board:$4,400

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare

International airfares vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses:$300

Immunizations varies

Books & Supplies :$100

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during a semester abroad vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region.  See a full list of our alumni contacts.  Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.

 

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SIT was founded as the School for International Training and has been known as SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute since 2007. SIT is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

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