Courses & Requirements

Requirements for the Human Rights Minor

Six courses (24 hours required). A minimum of three courses must be taken at Agnes Scott. Student take the required Core course plus five electives.  Electives must be from at least two disciplines and include at least two courses from Group 1. At least three of the five electives must be at the 300 level or above.

Core Course

REL-125: Introduction to Human Rights (4.00)

An exploration of the theoretical and historical foundations of human rights from a multidisciplinary perspective. Presents human rights as a framework of analysis and as a moral discourse. Examines group rights-for example, women, indigenous peoples, or inmates-and analyzes particularly challenging human rights problems such as genocide, torture, and immigrants' rights. Cross-listed with POL/WS-125.

Related Courses

Group 1 Electives (choose at least two)

ANT-335: Anthropology of Human Rights (4.00)

Anthropology and human rights are fields that promote respect and protection of diverse and marginalized peoples around the world. How can anthropological theories and techniques be marshalled in the interest of human rights? What are the challenges to finding common ground between anthropology and human rights? This course explores the language, research, and philosophical positions underlying the work of anthropologists and human rights advocates. We will examine competing ethical positions and debates between universal rights and cultural relativism. Course topics will include cross-cultural approaches to issues such as LGBTQ rights, public health, international development, refugee rights, women's rights, civil rights, political freedom, genocide, indigenous rights, and religious freedom.

Course requisites: One of the following courses: ANT-101, PH-101, PHI-101, SOC-101, PHI-112, REL/POL/WS-125

ANT-350: Anthropology of Violence (4.00)

This course explores violence across the modern world, including political, structural, symbolic, and "everyday violence." Case studies of genocide, ethnocide, femicide, and rape will be considered through a human rights framework, with particular emphasis on reparation, rebuilding, and prevention. Cross-listed with PH-350.

Course requisites: Take 1: ANT/PH/SOC-101 or REL/POL-125

PHI-101: Introduction to Ethics (4.00)

How ought we to live? What makes an act right, or a person virtuous? Is morality relative to culture? These are some of the questions we will confront in our critical examination of some major moral theories. Introductory level.

PHI-106: Bioethics (4.00)

Recent moral issues in medicine, such as euthanasia, abortion, experimentation on human and other animal subjects, justice in providing health care and in the allocation of scarce resources.

PHI-109: Environmental Ethics (4.00)

An exploration of moral issues arising from relations among human beings, non-human animals, and the environment. Specific topics may include the value and moral standing of individuals, species, and ecosystems; biodiversity, development, and sustainability; and environmental justice and environmental racism.

PHI-112: Contemporary Moral Problems (4.00)

An introduction to applied ethics through a variety of issues. Topics may include ethical treatment of animals, abortion, poverty, euthanasia, or the death penalty. Ethical theories will also be introduced.

PHI-212: Moral Philosophy (4.00)

An introduction to some of the West's most significant and influential ethical theories through original texts. Works of Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, and Mill will be discussed.

Course requisites: Any 100-level PHI or POL course except PHI-103.

POL-333: Women and the Politics of Social Change In Muslim Contexts (4.00)

The course examines the increasingly visible role played by women in political, religious, and social movements in Muslim contexts, focusing on diverse forms of activism and organization. We will analyze social movement theory and debates about the (in)compatibility between rights/gender equality and Islam as well as specific issues such as family rights, violence against women, religious expression, and women's political representation. Cross-listed with WS-333.

REL-385: Religion, Education, and Activism (4.00)

In this course we will explore, through historical and current justice issues, the educational theories and practices of religious organizations, and grassroots movements for social change. Students will also engage and gain competence in the practice of human rights education through a variety of models of liberatory educational practices, including popular education, theatre for social change, community-based living, participatory action research, and movement building. Counts toward the Human Rights Minor. Cross-listed with EDU-385.

Course requisites: Take 1 course in subject EDU or REL;

REL-263: Religion, Ethics, and Social Justice (4.00)

In this course we will investigate how a variety of religious ethics and social justice theories and practices address past and current social, cultural and political issues. We will learn about the ethical dimensions of individual and systemic practices in the context of religion, along with ethical reflection, decision making, and activism. Special focus will be on feminist and womanist approaches to ethics and women religious leaders. No prerequisite. Cross-listed with WS-263.

WS-450: Credit Internship (1.00)

For juniors and seniors who want a more-focused academic component to accompany their internship, the independently designed 450 may be an option. Students must identify a faculty sponsor and complete detailed paperwork for approval from the Office of Internship and Career Development.

Group 2 Electives

ANT-245: Marriage, Sexuality and Power in Cross Cultural Perspective (4.00)

This course reviews marriage around the world, such as polygyny, monogamy, polyandry, and homosexual and heterosexual unions, and discusses the consequences for emotional bonds, power, sexuality, children, and financial arrangements. Cross-listed with WS-245.

ANT-340: Worlds of Culture: Global Ethnography (4.00)

A sample of ethnographies offering detailed anthropological studies of a range of geographic regions and cultural themes. The course probes other cultures' ways of knowing and how they deal with religion, ecology, economics, kinship, gender, health, language, and globalization.

Course requisites: Anthropology 101

ENG-218: Topics in Ethnic American Literatures (4.00)

TOPICS IN ETHNIC AMERICAN LITERATURES. The study of works by members of ethnically-defined groups (for example, Asian-American Literature or Native-American Literature).

Description for topic "COMPARATIVE ETHNIC AMERICAN LITERATURE"--Whether as a "melting pot," a "salad bowl," or a "mosaic," we know that America is composed of multicultural, multiethnic, and multi linguistic traditions. This course engages a comparative understanding of racialized communities in American literature, including literary productions by authors of African American, American Indian, Chicano/a, Asian American, and Hispanic American traditions. Through comparative analyses, we will regard how textual productions by Americans of different backgrounds understand and negotiate their participation in the development of American cultures. Counts towards post-1800 requirement.

Course requisites: ENG-110

ENG-219: Topics in Literary History (4.00)

TOPICS IN LITERARY HISTORY--Exploration of a literary issue, theme or form across literary periods (for example, Necessary Mythologies or The Gothic). Counts as pre- or post-1800.

Description for "LITERATURE AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE"--American writers have been considering the question of when it is right and just to employ violence for political purposes since, at least, Thomas Paine's Common Sense. In this course, we will consider this question and how Americans have written about political violence and protest over the course of the country's history. We will situate our texts by interrogating events and historical moments that will allow us to contemplate how leaders have used violence for political means, and we will reflect on how these leaders, and the historical events they have precipitated, are depicted in American literature, to better understand how writers shape our understanding of what political violence is. Our explorations of the course theme will include readings by authors such as Thomas Paine, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, Margret Fuller, Tim O'Brien, James Baldwin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Gloria Anzalda, John Lewis, and others.

Description for "GOTHIC LITERATURE"--In tracing the origin and progress of this genre we shall study works by several celebrated writers of gothic fiction, among them Horace Walpole, William Beckford, Matthew Lewis, Mary Shelley, Ann Radcliffe, Joseph Sheriden Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, and Shirley Jackson, and supplement our literary engagement with a look at some outstanding examples of the gothic in American cinema. To put it all in perspective we will read Fred Botting's informative little book, Gothic, side by side with the novels, romances, and movies that are included in this course.

Course requisites: ENG-110 or equivalent

ENG-352: Studies in Postcolonial Literature (4.00)

STUDIES IN POSTCOLONIAL LITERATURE--Study of literature written in nations that were formerly European colonies (for example, the literature of South Asia, South-East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and Canada). Cross-listed with AS-352.

Description for "AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE AND FILM"--This course seeks to introduce students to a selection of African literature and film from a postcolonial perspective. It examines systemic structures of domination and exploitation, colonial and local, and investigates issues of race, class, tribal affiliation, identity, and gender in order to understand both the nature of the societies depicted and the motivating impulses behind the texts we study. The interdisciplinary approach will allow us to identify the residual effects of colonization as well as the intrinsic dynamics of a selected variety of postcolonial societies in Africa within a historical context. At the same time, we will look at stylistic, formal, and technical elements to analyze and appraise the aesthetic and imaginative qualities of the assigned material. Texts originally produced in English as well as those translated from local languages may be used.

Description for "MODERN SOUTH ASIAN AND MIDDLE-EASTERN LITERATURE"--A study of literature from South Asia and the Middle East from a postcolonial historical perspective. The central focus of this course is the critical examination of relationships, interactions and outcomes among and within dominant colonial and marginalized postcolonial cultures, subcultures and groups. After examining ideas about self and the other and the social and political scale of power fostered by colonial authorities, we shall turn our attention to the postcolony with the following questions: What are the regimes of differentiation and discrimination within postcolonial societies? What aspects of these hierarchies of difference are derived from colonial rule and which aspects are endemic to the postcolonial society? How do the related, though outwardly independent, historical developments of the times, the birth of modernism, the Russian revolution, and the dismantling of British colonial rule affect South Asian and Middle-Eastern societies as reflected in their literary and artistic productions? What does the term "postcolonial" signify? How do postcolonial literature and approaches to literary works seek to identify, challenge, and subvert the continuing hierarchies of domination and subservience derived from the colonial period as well as the internal orders of privileging and difference in the postcolony? What are the advantages and disadvantages of deploying this critical approach? We shall study texts originally produced in English and may also use English translations of works, written and oral, from regional languages, in order to understand the aesthetics, cultural perspectives, and ideological positions that animate these literary and artistic productions.

Description for "LITERATURE OF SOUTH ASIA, MIDDLE EAST, AND AFRICA"--Using a historical introduction to provide a background for the debates involving the postcolonial condition and the struggle for personal, cultural, and/or national autonomy in formerly colonized areas or states, we shall proceed to an overview of the field of postcolonial literary theory to establish the context for our study before looking at postcolonial literature and films from former British colonies (and areas formerly under British control) in South-Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Occasionally, translations from works in the indigenous languages may be introduced to highlight contrasts and correspondences with work originally composed in English, or give a more inclusive view of the range and nature of responses to the colonial experience in these areas. Texts to be selected from works by, among others, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, Anita Desai, Sara Suleri, Bapsi Sidhwa, Mohsin Hamid, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ghassan Kanafani, Furugh Farrukhzad, Mahmoud Darwish, Adonis, Sami-ul-Qasim, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ngugiwa Thiongo, Tayyib Salih, Ama Ata Aidoo, and Bessie Head.

HIS-230: The Vietnam Wars (4.00)

An examination of the origins, expansion, and consequences of the Vietnam Wars from Vietnamese and American perspectives. Topics include French colonialism, the rise of nationalism in Vietnam, the responses to imperialism, American foreign policy and the "wars" at home.

HIS-318: The Holocaust (4.00)

Victims and perpetrators of German genocide, with emphasis on anti-Semitism, origins of the Final Solution, Nazi ideology, survivors' memories and historiographical controversies.

HIS-342: A History of Native Americans (4.00)

An examination of beliefs, practices and social structures among native North American groups from the seventeenth century to the present. Themes include: cultural diversity; European-American imperialism; environmental impacts; the politics and processes of "removal"; identity and citizenship; reservation life; and resistance.

HIS-320: The History of Slavery in the United States (4.00)

An examination of the institution of slavery in American history and memory. Themes include: definitions of freedom; the Atlantic slave trade; slaveholding ideologies; slave communities and culture; abolition; and the impact of slavery on free people throughout the nation. Cross-listed with AS-320.

HIS-324: Topics in African-American History (4.00)

Critical examination of a specific topic in the history of the African-American experience. Topics vary from year to year, and the course may be repeated for credit when the content changes. Cross-listed with AS-324.

PHI-145: Philosophy of Race (4.00)

What is race? An examination of the evolution of the concept of race in the United States (focusing particularly on science and law) and contemporary philosophical treatments of race as a social construction with moral and political implications. Topics include: ethnicity vs. race; the intersection of race with gender, class, sexuality, disability and nationality; white privilege; and a current policy issue such as affirmative action. Cross-listed with AS-145.

POL-203: Constitutional Law (4.00)

Examination of the rights of individuals in the American constitutional framework. Includes issues of civil liberties and civil rights for women and minorities such as due process and equal protection. Emphasis on legal reasoning and the development of law. Prerequisite: one 100-level course and sophomore standing; POL-201 strongly recommended.

Course requisites: Sophomore standing required

POL-222: Human Rights in Muslim Contexts (4.00)

Is Islam compatible with human rights? We will analyze various debates surrounding this issue, exploring key actors and factors in state-society relations, conceptualizations of Middle Eastern politics, Muslim culture, and human rights. The course will present various debates on key rights issues, including minority and women's rights, and explore the impact of transnational activist networks on domestic human rights concerns. Cross-listed with WS-222.

POL-360: Rights at Work (4.00)

Examination of workplace issues and laws that govern the employment relationship. Special attention is given to race and sex discrimination, harassment, and the legal processes for protecting employee rights.

Course requisites: one 100-level course

POL-365: Dissent & Protest in Muslim Contexts In Muslim Contexts (4.00)

People all across the Muslim world are challenging authorities and seeking social and political change. This course examines contentious politics, in the form of protest, dissent, and social movements that arise in Muslim contexts. While the first part of the course introduces students to key concepts of social movement theory and contentious politics as developed by political sociologists and comparativists, the latter weeks of the course will analyze case studies mostly from the region commonly known as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA.) Together we will examine the factors that lead to contentious politics with an emphasis on structural constraints and opportunities for social and political activism in authoritarian and semi-democratic contexts. We will analyze why some forms of contentious politics lead to social movement development, as in feminist, environmentalist, and religious political movements in many Muslim contexts, while others such as some of the recent pro-democratic uprisings fail in delivering lasting political and electoral change. We will also explore the relation between Islamic activism and social movements, by looking at some the different ways groups have used Islam to mobilize support and as a blueprint for social and political transformation, and examine some of the reasons why some movements use violence. Cross-listed with WS-365.

POL-373: Middle East Politics & Society (4.00)

This course introduces students to the major political and social developments of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) from the end of the Ottoman Empire (post-WWI) until today. In addition to a chronological history and overview of the region and the formation of its nation-states throughout the 20th century, the course also delves into a number of thematic topics related to Middle East politics and society. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach in analyzing key aspects of the post-colonial state (institutions, law, and ideology), the emergence of civil society, the growth and development of social movements (particularly women's and minority rights movements), and ongoing popular protest (for example, the "Arab Spring"). Key controversies such as the (in)compatibility between Islam and liberal democracy and the nature of political Islam will be explored. (Cross-listed with WS-373.)

REL-221: Engaged Judaism (4.00)

Engaged Judaism explores the histories, cultures, identities, religious and secular practices of critical thought, and notions of diaspora for Eastern European and Middle Eastern Jews. Students examine anti-Jewish oppression and Jewish involvement in social justice, human and civil rights movements.

REL-233: Constructing Tibet Through Film and Literature (4.00)

This course examines the construction of Tibet as a mythic object of fantasy in the Western imagination. Close attention will be given to the way Tibet has been portrayed in a variety of literary and film genres.

REL-385: Religion, Education, and Activism (4.00)

In this course we will explore, through historical and current justice issues, the educational theories and practices of religious organizations, and grassroots movements for social change. Students will also engage and gain competence in the practice of human rights education through a variety of models of liberatory educational practices, including popular education, theatre for social change, community-based living, participatory action research, and movement building. Counts toward the Human Rights Minor. Cross-listed with EDU-385.

Course requisites: Take 1 course in subject EDU or REL;

REL-224: Leadership, Feminism & Religion (4.00)

In most religious cultures, women as a group were denied an active and authoritative role in its formation and interpretation. This course will look at women's struggle with their respective religious traditions and examples where women did play a role in shaping the tradition. We will explore the lives of women in multiple religious tradition: indigenous, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and Islam. Together, we will explore some of the following themes: traditional religious knowledge production, patriarchy, feminism both as an analytical tool and as a social vision, women as moral agents, and development of feminist theories in various world religions, feminist critiques, and reforms presented. We will end the course by looking at concrete social issues, for example, sexual violence, abortion, pornography, and reproductive technologies to see how feminist in different religious traditions have influenced change. Cross-listed with WS-224.

REL-334: Sex/Gender/Embodiment in Buddhism (4.00)

This course examines the various ways that different Buddhist societies have struggled with the tension between the religion's transcendent goal of enlightenment and the this-worldly challenges of human sexuality, embodiment, and gender. Cross-listed with WS-334.

Course requisites: Take ONE from REL-113, REL-130, REL-133, REL-195 or REL-232 or permission of instructor.

SOC-225: Urban Lives (4.00)

An exploration of social changes in urban settings in the United States, the Caribbean, and Western Europe, particularly the ways societal processes and social structures influence community and cultural life. Issues such as urban poverty, environmental pollution, "global city" formation and residential segregation will be discussed. Cross-listed with AS-225.

Course requisites: SOC-101, AS-170 or ANT-101

SOC-230: Race, Class and Gender (4.00)

Survey of the history, basic theories and recent research integrating these key concepts for modern society. Systematic examination of the effects of these variables on different groups in society. Cross-listed with WS-231/AS-230.

SOC-301: Collective Behav & Soc Mvments (4.00)

This course examines organized collective efforts to bring about social change. It applies social science research methods, perspectives, and case studies to evaluate the effectiveness of activists' practices and outcomes. Analysis will include, but is not limited to, U.S. and international collective action such as the civil rights, workers', environmental, and women's movements.

Course requisites: SOC-101 or ANT-101

WS-205: Introduction to Queer Studies (4.00)

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of queer studies. Drawing from queer theory, feminist scholarship, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history, we will examine how intersecting categories such as race, class, gender, regionalism, and nationalism influence how queerness is understood and experienced.

WS-235: Gender and the Law (4.00)

This course examines key aspects of U.S. constitutional and statutory law that deal with gender. Possible topics include: legal guarantees of sex & race equality, marriage, employment discrimination (including sexual harassment), affirmative action, rape, domestic violence, reproductive rights, pornography and prostitution.

WS-295: Topics in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (4.00)

TOPICS IN WOMEN'S, GENDER & SEXUALITY STUDIES--A detailed, critical analysis of a specific topic in WGSS. Previous topics have included Theorizing the Female Body; Women in Families; Marginalized Women Redefining Feminism; and Audre Lorde: Challenging and Transforming Feminist Thought. May be repeated for credit when subject matter warrants.

Course requisites: WS-100 or permission of instructor

WS-340: Contemporary Feminist Theory (4.00)

A cross-disciplinary study of feminist theorists representing a variety of approaches. Cross-listed with PHI-340.

Course requisites: WS-100 or any Philosophy course

WS-352: Global Feminisms (4.00)

This interdisciplinary course explores global/transnational feminist issues as individual and collective practices and as organized movements. Cross-listed with POL-352.

Course requisites: WS-100, WS/POL/REL-125 or WS/POL-222 (or permission)

WS-395: Advanced Topics in Women's, Gender And Sexuality Studies (4.00)

ADVANCED TOPICS IN WOMEN'S, GENDER & SEXUALITY STUDIES--A detailed, critical analysis of a specific topic in WGSS designed for students with significant background in WGSS and/or advanced undergraduates. Cross-listed with THE-312 if the topic applies to Theatre.

Description for "AWARD WINNING WOMEN PLAYWRIGHTS"--This course will focus on plays written by women that have received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, and the Tony Award. That includes some classic plays by noted playwrights, but also works by some of the biggest names working right now such as Lynn Nottage, Paula Vogel, Quiara Alegria Hudes, and Annie Baker.

Course requisites: WS-340 or permission of instructor.

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