Human Rights and Foreign Policy (IGA 365)

Full Syllabus

This course offers students a critical evaluation of the role of human rights, as law, ethics and politics, in the foreign policy of contemporary states. It is designed to help future diplomats, foreign service officers, human rights activists and future politicians understand how international conventions, human rights NGO’s, UN and regional human rights bodies and media-driven human rights narratives shape the conduct of large and small states.

The course will focus on what is controversial and contested about the role of human rights in modern foreign policy.

Some states use human rights as a guiding principle, others treat it as a side-constraint on the pursuit of national interest, while still others contest the right of other states to interfere in their internal affairs. Using concrete case studies, we will examine the competing, contradictory and contested impacts of human rights law and discourse on the conduct of 21st century states.

The course is designed for human rights skeptics and believers alike and no previous experience or knowledge of human rights law is required.

Responsibility and Representation: The Demands of Political Life (DPI 205)

Full Syllabus

This is a course for students considering a career in politics and seeking to prepare themselves for its characteristic dilemmas: staying truthful versus saying what it takes to win; balancing partisanship with civility, doing what your constituents want versus what you think is right, managing the pressures of money and influence; being loyal to party versus being loyal to yourself and your people; maintaining the distinction between enemies and adversaries; knowing the difference between an honorable compromise and a rotten one; knowing when to fight and when to make a deal; when to shoulder responsibility alone and when to force it on to others; learning the difference between gut instinct and good judgment.

It is not a course in how to win elections and it is not a course on American politics. Instead, it focuses on the inner demands of political life in 21st century democracies and seeks to prepare students for the exercise of judgment, responsibility and choice.

Sovereignty and Intervention (IGA 360)

Full Syllabus

Sovereignty remains the core legitimizing principle of political authority in a globalizing world. The course is designed to provide students with a practical and policy-oriented analysis of the exercise of sovereignty by modern governments.It will identify the responsibilities of sovereign government and the core demand of modern peoples in a post-imperial world: to be masters in their own house. We will examine whether this demand can be met in a global economy where no sovereign, not even the United States, can claim full control over its own economic future.

The course will analyse a central foreign policy dilemma for all modern governments: when and if they should intervene in the affairs of other states. These interventions run the gamut from preventive diplomacy, through coercive sanctions to full scale military intervention. We will also include coercive debt re-structuring and loan conditionality as interventions designed to rescue states that have lost the solvency required for effective sovereignty.

We will evaluate recent military interventions—from Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq to Afghanistan - as well as recent failures to intervene, including Rwanda and Syria. We will look at global problems that sovereigns are failing to tackle—climate change and cyber insecurity - and emerging technologies like cyber warfare and drones that change the calculus of risk in intervention. Students should come out of the course with a clear definition of responsible sovereignty as well as clear idea of how and when to intervene in states that fail to meet their responsibilities.