Global Human Rights

New Approaches to Global Human Rights 

For more than 50 years, “human rights” has been the dominant approach to the concepts of international equity and justice, but it is a dynamic field. In the 20th century, global human rights focused on protecting persons from torture, extra-judicial killing, genocide, forced disappearance, and other atrocities that destroyed people physically and psychologically.

In the 21st century, we see a dramatic expansion and redefinition, driven by threats to life and liberty posed by global environmental change, mass refugee movements, and technological innovations that reshape the concepts of humanity. These new contours demand address by educators at every level, even while we remain attentive to traditional threats.

Please utilize this page to explore: local and national resources, instructor materials, speaker series recordings, and study abroad programs.

Instructor Materials

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Readings: Child Health and Human Rights

  • Dominguez Villegas, R. 2014. Central American Migrants and “La Bestia”: The Route, Dangers, and Government Responses. Migration Policy Institute.
  • Chaos, Confusion, and Danger: The remain in Mexico Program in El Paso. Women’s Refugee Commission. 
  • Crea, T.M. et al. 2018. How do Immigrant Children and Families Experience Immigrant Detention? The center on Immigration and child welfare. School of Social Work. New Mexico State University.

Readings: Human Rights and Citizenship

  • Human rights issues under international and national law. UN General Assembly,
  • Building a Dangerous Precedent in the Americas: Revoking Fundamental Rights of Dominicans Human Rights Brief.
  • Harvey, D. 2003. The right to the city. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research27 (4), pp. 939-941.
  • Marcuse, P. 2012. Whose right (s) to what city? In Cities for People, Not for Profit, pp. 33-47. Routledge.
  • Purcell, Mark. 2006. “Urban democracy & the local trap.” Urban Studies 43 (11):1921–41.
  • Soja, E. 2009. The city and spatial justice [«La ville et la justice spatiale», traduction: Sophie Didier, F. Dufaux], J.  Spatiale , n° 01|, September, pp. 1-5.
  • Uitermark, J., Nicholls, W., & Loopmans, M. 2012. Cities and social movements: theorizing beyond the right to the city. Environment and Planning 44: pp. 2546 – 2554.
  • Ong, Aihwa. 1999. Flexible Citizenship. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Purcell, Mark & Brown, J Christopher. 2005. Against the local trap: Scale and the study of environment and development. Progress in Development Studies, 5 (4): 279-297.
  • Roy, A. 2010. The democratization of capital and development. Poverty Capital: Microfinance and the Making of Development. New York: Routledge, pp. 1-40.
  • Sassen, Saskia. 2002. Locating cities on global circuits. Environment and Urbanization 14 (1): 13-30.
  • Miraftab, Faranak, and Shana Wills. 2005. “Insurgency and Spaces of Active Citizenship: The Story of the Western Cape Anti- Eviction Campaign in South Africa.” Journal of Planning Education and Research 25 (2): 200–17.
  • Smith, Michael Peter, and Luis E. Guarnizo, eds. 1998. Transnationalism from Below. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
  • Friedmann, J. 2002. Transnational Migration: Space of Incorporation. The Prospect of Cities. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 39-66.
  • Laquian, A. A. 2005. From Mega-Cities to Mega-Urban Regions. Beyond Metropolis: The Planning and Governance of Asia’s Mega-Urban Regions. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, pp. 1-52.

Readings: Climate Change and Human Rights

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Videos: Child Health and Human Rights

Videos: Human Rights and Citizenship

Human Rights Amnesty International #9. This series of animated video clips for human rights education offers a broad overview of different human rights issues. This is a perfect introduction for a beginner interested in learning about the basics of human rights.

Inés & Valentina, Mexico -Write for Rights (2011)

This is an example of human rights issues of power/forces at play.  This is the court case of Ines y Valentina (two indigenous women who fought abuse against the military) were raped by Mexican soldiers in 2002. The Inter-American Court had ordered the Mexican government to guarantee the safety of Inés Fernández and her family on 7 April 2009 but the protection measures have not been fully implemented.

City Rising : Gentrification and Displacement (2017)

Director: Juan Devis

This multi-platform documentary shows how gentrification is deeply rooted in a history of discriminatory laws and practices in the United States. City Rising follows the journey of California communities that are fighting gentrification and features a growing movement of advocates seeking responsible development across the state. People of color who cherish their neighborhood’s culture and sense of community are mobilizing against unsustainable rents and other forces that they see are pushing neighbors into homelessness.

The End of Poverty (2010)

Director: Philippe Diaz

The End of Poverty? Is a daring, thought-provoking, and very timely documentary by Philippe Diaz, revealing that poverty is not an accident. It began with military conquest, slavery, and colonization that resulted in the seizure of land, minerals, and forced labor. Today, global poverty has reached new levels because of unfair debt, trade, and tax policies – in other words, wealthy countries exploiting the weaknesses of poor, developing countries.  This film asks why today 20% of the planet’s population uses 80% of its resources and consumes 30% more that the planet can generate?

The Last Train Home (2010)

Director: Lixin Fan

A family embarks on an annual tormenting journey along with 200 other million peasant workers to reunite with their distant family, and to revive their love and dignity as China soars as the world’s next super power.

Videos: Climate Change and Human Rights

Speaker Series

“Addressing the Challenge of Coloniality in the Promises of Modernity and Cosmopolitanism to Higher Education”

Speaker: Professor Jose Cossa, Pennsylvania State University.

Description: In this talk, Professor Cossa critiques the modernist and cosmopolitan foundations of Western higher education, which ignore coloniality and limit critical thinking. He calls for efforts to de-border, de-center, and decolonize in global universities.

“Human Rights Education with Professor Monisha Bajaj”

Speaker: Professor Monisha Bajaj, University of San Francisco

Description: Human rights education is a global movement to address basic rights and broaden the respect for the dignity and freedom of all peoples through formal and non-formal education. In this talk, drawing on her two decades of experience as a scholar and practitioner, Professor Monisha Bajaj will discuss her recent books on the politics and possibilities of human rights education.

The Back 40 Mine: A Conversation about Menominee Rights”

Speaker: Anahkwet (Guy Reiter), Executive Director of Menikanaehkem Inc. 

Description: The Back Forty Mine project is a proposed open pit metallic sulfide mine located on the banks of the Menominee River in Lake Township, Michigan. Aquila Resources Inc. (TSX: AQA) (“Aquila”), a Canadian development stage company, is actively seeking the necessary approvals to mine and process gold, zinc, copper, silver and other minerals at the site. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has approved three of the four required permits for the project. The Menominee Nation and many allies including local citizens, local governments, environmental organizations, and grassroots organizations oppose the mine. This presentation initiates a conversation about how environmental politics and indigenous rights intersect with projects like the Back Forty Mine.

“Refugee Youth, Citizenship Education and Exclusion from Public Schooling”

Speaker: Professor Sally Bonet, Colgate University

Description: In this talk, which draws on a three year, multi-sited, multilingual ethnographic study with recently resettled Iraqi refugee families in Philadelphia, Dr. Sally Wesley Bonet examines the relationship between educational exclusion and the production of refugee youth as (non)citizens, suggesting that staging interventions to improve their lives necessitates a thoughtful reevaluation of educational policy and practices.