Seminar

Interdisciplinary Seminar in Human Rights and International Justice

Spring 2018

APSY/EDUC/THEO/UNAS/LAWS746101 (3 credits). Registration by permission only (see application process below).

The Spring 2018 seminar will meet Thursdays, 2:00PM-4:20PM in Stuart 410 on Newton campus.

Instructor: Prof. Katie Young, BC Law School

2018 course description:

The study of human rights defies disciplinary boundaries. This seminar, sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and International Justice (CHRIJ), provides a rare space to examine human rights from an interdisciplinary perspective. Each year, the seminar brings together faculty affiliated with the Center, students from across the university, visiting scholars and guest speakers, to examine issues of human rights and international justice. 

The seminar draws on interdisciplinary understandings of—and responses to—some of the most compelling human rights challenges of our times. During Spring 2018, the seminar will explore:

  • the philosophical and historical origins of Western ideas of human rights and how those ideas differ from other conceptions;
  • the international law, treaties, instruments, “customary” norms, etc. that create and protect human rights, including economic and social rights, rights against racial, ethnic, religious, and gender discrimination, rights to self-determination, and the rights of children;
  • ethical, legal, and psychosocial aspects of the human rights issues confronting migrants, refugees, internally displaced populations, survivors of armed conflict and/or genocidal violence, and other historically vulnerable groups, including a focus on how the human rights framework can address issues of poverty and inequality;
  • transitional justice resources and challenges, with a particular focus on “transitional justice from the margins,” that is the intersections of identities, power and human rights in and with communities emerging from armed conflict, racialized gendered violence, and genocide;
  • the institutions that monitor and enforce human rights law, including regional systems such as those of Europe and the Inter-American system, as well as national systems such as those of South Africa and India;

The seminar will begin with an overview and brief historical review of human rights instruments and then explore a series of complexities for those seeking to engage in human rights scholarship, advocacy, and activism. We seek to engage critically with human rights discourse and actions as they intersect with gender, culture/ethnicity, “race,” class and other categorizations.


The Center invites applications from students enrolled in a graduate professional degree in any of Boston College's divisions. Undergraduate seniors will be considered, space permitting.

The seminar will meet every Thursday from 2:00PM-4:30PM and will include sessions with guest lecturers and CHRIJ co-directors and affiliated faculty. Students will be expected to attend all the seminar sessions and are encouraged to attend CHRIJ and other guest speaker presentations throughout the semester.

Prerequisites: Admission by permission only.

Satisfies ABA Writing Requirement for Law Students

Application: Students wishing to apply for the seminar should submit a brief statement explaining their interest (no longer than one page, single spaced) to humanrights@bc.edu with the subject-line "Human Rights Interdisciplinary Seminar application." Please include your Eagle ID and academic discipline in the application.  The application deadline is Thursday, November 9, 2017.