This course will offer a critical introduction to the interdisciplinary study of human rights through the case of migration. To gain a deep understanding of the role of borders and the environmental crisis in contemporary life, we will read foundational texts in philosophy, political theory, sociology, and cultural studies, which we will supplement with contemporary works in literature, film, and the visual arts. The course will be divided into units that consider specific real-world cases of political and environmental migration. These will include contemporary cases, such as that of Haiti, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Central America; cases from the recent past, such as that of Jewish people during World War II; and, importantly, we will consider possible future cases, which include certain areas of the United States that are in environmental peril.
In this course, we will investigate and answer questions like: What is the ideal response of the international community when there is a political or environmental crisis in a specific area or country? What are the consequences for the countries that take refugees? What are the ethics and politics of exclusion, refuge, sanctuary, hospitality, and statelessness? How can young people prepare to demand political and environmental justice from their governments and international organizations?
You will investigate these questions and many more, and they will come up with answers by engaging with some of the most important thinkers and artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students will read philosophers like Hanna Arendt and Etienne Balibar, cultural theorists like Thomas Nail and Sandro Mezzadra, and literary artists like Mahmoud Darwish and Valeria Luiselli, as well as scholars in political theory, history, law, and identity studies. To gain a cross-cultural understanding of political and environmental crises, we will look to a variety of cases from across the globe, from Haiti to Chile, to the United States to Afghanistan. In studying these, we will build on our theoretical foundation by reading materials specific to each political and/or environmental crisis and the international response. By putting these readings into conversation with one another, we will draw out lessons about the human rights of refugees and the position of receiving countries.
In this course, you will learn:
Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.