A course offered this summer will get students out of the Lecture Hall and into real-world discussions about the state of human rights across the world.
Human Rights Advocacy: United Nations (U.N.) will provide undergraduate students with learning experience through exercises, fieldwork and visits with the U.N. diplomatic community.
The 2-credit course is being promoted exclusively through the Human Development Listserv, but will be available for students of all majors. Once they are registered, students will have the choice of taking the class in person or online. They will participate in workshops with professor Dinesh Sharma, which include taking trips to the U.N. and meeting with current and former ambassadors, as well as studying other non-governmental organizations.
Students will both hear lectures on the topic and have the opportunity to meet with representatives from embassies such as Kenya, South Korea and Iraq.
“I don’t think there is any other course that possibly offers direct practical experience with the U.N. or human rights work,” Sharma said.
Sharma is well known for his work on the topic of international relations and global cooperation in the field of human rights. His book, “Barack Obama in Hawaii and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President,” was recognized in 2012 as one of the Top 10 Books of Black History by the American Library Association.
Sharma said the course is supposed to be both interactive and pertinent to current affairs.
“The inspiration behind this course is to get students direct work experience with the international agencies of the human rights field,” Sharma said. “Students will gain important professional experience with the human rights community. We will examine all the hot spots in the world from MENA to South Asia to Africa and the EU.”
David Cingranelli is a professor of political science and a human rights activist who has researched human rights practices and violations around the world. He said he believes the new course will expose human rights violations by groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram that have not received enough attention from human rights scholars.
“While the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) was created to discourage human rights violations by governments, some of the worst violators of human rights are not governments,” Cingranelli wrote in an email. “Everyone should understand how the world came to a consensus over a particular set of internationally recognized rights. Education about rights is one of the most important ways to make governments protect them.”
Cingranelli also said the course is in line with a larger initiative taken by Binghamton University to offer a more diverse selection of classes.
“The University has created a transdisciplinary area of excellence devoted to the development of more expertise and more courses on campus dealing with issues of human rights, citizenship and immigration,” he wrote. “This new course is probably at least partly the result of that new emphasis on campus.”
Raffi Glasser, a junior majoring in environmental studies who is currently enrolled in a course taught by Cingranelli on human rights, said she thought the new course touched on important topics.
“Human rights are vital to our understanding of the world and of ourselves,” Glasser said. “I hope the class discusses human rights violations specifically in foreign countries, since human rights should be equal around the world.”