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IHP Human Rights

Movements, Power, and Resistance

Investigate the historical and social contexts of human rights movements, including the roles of culture, identity, political economy, and international law.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

Relevant previous coursework

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Aug 28 – Dec 10

Program Countries

Chile, Jordan, Nepal, United States

Program Base

USA, Nepal, Jordan, Chile

Critical Global Issue of Study

Peace & Justice

Identity & Human Resilience

Overview

Why a Comparative Study of Human Rights?

Go beyond the halls of power to learn how individuals and communities are giving momentum to grassroots, human rights movements across four countries. Connect with groups working for immigrant and gender rights and against structural racism in New York City, and critically examine the deep roots of human rights movements throughout the United States. Travel next to Nepal, Jordan, and Chile, where you’ll meet with scholars, members of Parliament, feminist leaders, staff of grassroots and international non-governmental organizations, United Nations officials, Indigenous community members and leaders, and refugees. Gain deeper insight into multilayered perspectives on human rights, often against the backdrop of governments in tectonic shift, and understand pathways to enacting human rights-based change. Explore how COVID-19 has shifted the conversations on human rights and highlighted global economic inequity. Along the way, you’ll explore how to live, act, teach, and learn in ways that affirm human dignity, uproot oppression, and advance collective struggles for rights and justice everywhere.

Highlights

  • Meet prominent human rights leaders and practitioners during the program launch in the U.S.
  • Study labor, migration, and gender issues in the stunning rural Nepal.
  • Speak with refugees, women’s self-help groups, and humanitarian organizations in Jordan.
  • Spend one night in Petra, the ancient World Cultural Heritage site.
  • Camp in the desert sands of Wadi Rum during a program excursion.
  • Learn about cultural resistance and land rights from Mapuche Indigenous communities in Chile.

Prerequisites

Previous college-level coursework or background in anthropology, history, economics, sociology, gender studies social justice, psychology, or political science, as assessed by SIT. Coursework or background in human rights, philosophy, religion, or ethics is recommended but not required.

program map

Program Sites

United States: Brattleboro, Vermont & New York City

(10 days)

Embark on a thought-provoking exploration of the United States’ engagement with human rights, commencing in the rural small town context of Brattleboro, Vermont, and in the vibrant backdrop of New York City. Delve into the intricate tapestry of the nation’s human rights landscape by visiting refugee rights and social justice organizations in Vermont and renowned international bodies such as the United Nations. This immersive experience extends beyond institutional realms, as you engage with historical narratives spanning from the past to the present. Connect with community organizers, city officials, and impassioned activists dedicated to propelling advancements in housing, immigrant, worker, and LGBTQI+ rights. Additionally, gain insight into the ongoing struggle against racial disparities within the criminal justice system. This comprehensive journey promises a nuanced understanding of the multifaceted dimensions of human rights within the United States.

Nepal: Kathmandu

(4+ weeks)

In 2006, Nepal underwent a significant transformation, transitioning into a parliamentary democracy following a decade-long conflict between Maoist rebels and the Hindu monarchy. The complex process of nation-building has unfolded over an extended period, offering a unique opportunity to delve into its intricacies. This includes the meticulous crafting of a constitution that upholds equal rights in a multi-ethnic nation and addressing challenging issues related to wartime abuses. These issues encompass discrimination against Dalits and Indigenous populations, enforced disappearances, rape, torture, and extrajudicial executions. During your time in Kathmandu, engage with human rights lawyers and activists dedicated to forging a more just and equitable future for Nepal. This immersive experience promises a firsthand understanding of the challenges and strides in the country’s ongoing journey towards human rights, justice and democracy.

Jordan: Amman

(4+ weeks)

Positioned as a safe haven in the Middle East, Jordan provides valuable insights into the diverse human rights challenges stemming from historical and geopolitical conflicts in the region. Over the years, Jordan has played host to Palestinian, Iraqi, and Syrian refugees, with a notable 70 percent of its population having once identified as refugees. Immerse yourself in the historical and contemporary roots of refugee populations through visits to communities and NGOs dedicated to their well-being, emphasizing a particular focus on women’s rights. Additionally, explore iconic historical sites such as Petra, Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea to enrich your understanding of Jordan’s cultural and historical context.

Chile: Santiago

(4+ weeks)

Following the end of the Pinochet dictatorship, Chile embarked on a journey toward democracy characterized by a dual trajectory marked by efforts to reconcile with its history and by the persistent implementation of neoliberal policies, contributing to a deeply unequal society. Your initial exploration in Santiago will encompass visits to significant sites such as the Museum of Memory and Human Rights and Villa Grimaldi, offering profound insights into Chile’s historical narrative. Subsequently, your journey will lead you to the Mapuche territories in southern Chile where you will engage with vibrant local communities and explore farms nestled in the Andes. During this phase, connect with a diverse array of voices, including feminist leaders, historians, student activists, and representatives from various NGOs, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted aspects shaping Chile’s contemporary human rights landscape.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.

Academics

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to: 

  • Analyze historical dynamics of power that shape local social hierarchies, forms of oppression, and dehumanization. 
  • Construct a learning environment that embodies the praxis of human rights while working collaboratively with program partners and local communities. 
  • Use the political history of human rights frameworks to assess the opportunities and shortcomings of rights discourse.  
  • Analyze how experiences of colonialism, capitalism, development, and globalization shape local human rights governance and resistance.  
  • Analyze multiple dimensions, strategies, and actors of social change, and the deep importance of social mobilization for social change.   
  • Assess the politics of research and knowledge production in relation to human rights, power, and resistance. 

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.



Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

The following syllabi are representative of this program. 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.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.


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Foundations and Frameworks of Human Rights

Foundations and Frameworks of Human Rights – syllabus
(HMRT3000 / 4 credits)

Taking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and related international covenants as a point of departure, this course interrogates how civil, political, social, and economic rights are constructed, co-opted, and contested and how human rights are advanced and denied in the context of global politics and economics, the UN system, and international law. In doing so, the course foregrounds the praxis of global human rights regimes, critically examining disconnects between human rights in theory and practice as well as instances when human rights doctrine tangibly abets social change. Thematically, the course begins by critically analyzing the historical context that gave rise to the “Human Rights” establishment; history of the UN, creation of the UDHR, the splitting of the Covenants, and the development of concurrent human rights treaties and instruments. Next, the course examines the ways in which these international human rights doctrines map to the local contexts as expressed through contemporary human rights struggles in each site. This embeddedness, in the localized experiences of human rights praxis in three different locales, affords fertile opportunity for comparative analysis illuminating the tensions, opportunities, hypocrisies, limitations, and attainments of international human rights norms and instruments. This course is grounded in the local specificities of human rights in practice for each site.

Comparative Issues in Human Rights

Comparative Issues in Human Rights – syllabus
(HMRT3500 / 4 credits)

Drawing from interdisciplinary lenses such as cultural and ethnic studies, gender and sexuality studies, and postcolonial scholarship, this course offers analytical tools to study the nature of oppression and dehumanization and the possibilities for human rights to shape humanizing alternatives. Through selected readings and focused discussions, this course critically considers how historical processes such as colonialism, development, globalization, and neoliberalism shape contemporary human rights governance and resistance. This course forefronts questions of power that underlie human rights practices, challenging students to situate themselves in relationship to global social inequalities. Through the course, students are encouraged to reflect on ways they can exercise individual and group agency to interrupt social inequities in the world around them.

The Role of Civil Society: Grassroots Movements and NGOs

The Role of Civil Society: Grassroots Movements and NGOs – syllabus
(SDIS3320 / 4 credits)

The latter half of the twentieth century gave rise to a large and diverse sector of civil society organizations working at multiple scales, utilizing a variety of approaches to achieve human rights–based change. Though the aims, intentions, and impact of these organizations is contested, the constellation of actors working toward human rights under the umbrella of civil society has become a defining feature of contemporary human rights practice. This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the diverse configurations of these civil society organizations: NGOs, legal advocacy organizations, grassroots community-based organizations, social movement networks, etc., as well as familiarity with the differing strategies of change they employ. The course is tied together under the cross-cutting theme of struggles for women’s rights and gender justice. This course is taught by local faculty, each of whom are directly involved in struggles for gender equity through their work with civil society organizations. Course faculty draw from their experiences as advocates, grassroots organizers, and lawyers, utilizing different strategies of resistance to effect change. By experiencing firsthand a broad spectrum of civil society organizations within the sphere of women’s rights, students are challenged to come to their own conclusions on how to bridge the gap between human rights rhetoric and reality.

Fieldwork Ethics and Comparative Research Methods

Fieldwork Ethics and Comparative Research Methods – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 4 credits)

Research is a central tool in human rights praxis. Documenting and reflecting on violence, resistance, and imagination, it can support — if not drive — humanizing movements and transnational solidarity, unashamedly joining in projects of social justice. At the same time, it carries a dehumanizing potential. Research was and is also a central tool in imperialist projects; dividing the world into subjects and objects, into those who Know and those who are Known. This course holds both the humanizing and dehumanizing potentials of research in tension as it guides students through the theoretical, conceptual, and practical process for gathering, analyzing, and understanding their own primary research. The course is the foundation for a cumulative study project involving research in all three countries and culminating in a paper and presentation at the end of the semester.

Homestays / Housing

Accommodations

Student accommodations will include a mix of homestays, hostels, guesthouses, and small hotels/dorms. Students will experience homestays where possible and will be oriented as they move from place to place.

More About Homestay Experiences:

Family structures will vary. For example, a host family may include a single mother of two small children, or a large extended family with many people coming and going. Please bear in mind that the idea of what constitutes a “home” (i.e., the physical nature of the house) may be different from what you would 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.

In most cases, students will be placed in homestays in pairs, with placements made to best accommodate health concerns, including allergies or dietary needs. Information about homestay families will only be available upon arriving in each country.

Career Paths

Positions recently held by alumni of this program include:

  • Fellow at Amnesty International, New York, NY

  • Employment specialist at International Rescue Committee, New York, NY

  • Outreach coordinator at the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, New York, NY

  • Executive director at Children and Youth First, Kathmandu, Nepal

Faculty & Staff

IHP Human Rights: Movements, Power, and Resistance

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.

Azim Khan, PhD bio link
Azim Khan, PhD
Program Director and Faculty
Mabel Cobos, MA bio link
Mabel Cobos, MA
Country Coordinator, Chile
Majd Abu Salem, PhD bio link
Majd Abu Salem, PhD
Country Coordinator, Jordan
Yanik Shrestha bio link
Yanik Shrestha
Country Coordinator, Nepal

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

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