Courses in Civil and Human Rights

Courses Page

Whether you are enrolled in a Klau Institute program or looking to round out another area of study, these courses will help you explore civil and human rights as a cornerstone of your Notre Dame education.

Learn about the Klau Institute Minor

Courses for Spring 2024

CHR 20101: Race and Ethnicity: Constructing Identity and Difference

Generic Round

Race is often thought of as a biological characteristic of individuals. Yet research consistently demonstrates that race, rather than a biological reality, is a social reality. This course will introduce you to how to think sociologically about race and racism. We will explore the origins of race, and the theoretical and empirical analysis of race, ethnicity, and immigration. We will also examine patterns of racial/ethnic inequality in a variety of domains including education, income and wealth, criminal justice, media, and health. Throughout the course we will view race through an intersectional lens, emphasizing the interplay between social categories such as race, ethnicity, gender, and social class. We will also discuss immigration patterns and how they affect race and ethnic relations. While we will talk about historical and global processes and patterns, most of the class will focus on racial and ethnic stratification in contemporary U.S. society (post-1960s).

Crosslisted With: SOC 20806, section 01
Crosslisted With: HESB 30354, section 01
Crosslisted With: SOC 20806, section 02
Crosslisted With: AMST 30500, section 01
Crosslisted With: HHS 20806, section 01


CHR 30104: Indigeneity in Global Context

Generic Round

In 2007, after decades of organizing on the part of indigenous activists, the United Nations issued a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration was the result of years of work by people from particular communities--each with its own history, culture, language, and home--who decided to call themselves, and work together as, Indigenous people. This creative step allowed indigenous peoples to work collectively for justice on a global scale, rather than individually and in confrontation with single states. This class explores the concept, and reality, of Indigeneity in both historical and contemporary perspective: we will consider the many shared struggles and opportunities of indigenous peoples around the globe today and the ways that similar (or distinct) histories have led to similar (or distinct) present realities.

Crosslisted With: GLAF 30140, section 01
Crosslisted With: ANTH 30302, section 01
Crosslisted With: AFST 30691, section 01
Crosslisted With: HIST 30924, section 01


CHR 30141: Migrants and Mobility in the Age of Mass Movement

Generic Round

This course examines the origins and development of contemporary opinions and policies concerning migrations and migrants. It does so by looking backward to the age when transoceanic mobility became more frequent and increasingly more accessible before moving forward to our own times. It is the central claim of this course that it is impossible to understand what drives policy today without first surveying the changing ideas of migration and the movement of people over time. It will therefore take students through the history of migration in the modern world, as well as studying the migrant journey, connections to home, the process and difficulties of assimilation and community creation, and the problems or opportunities that could arise for migrants from characteristics like race, religion, ethnicity, or language. Also considered will be the complex relationship between colonization and migration. In the process, Migrants and Mobility will also examine how different societies place value judgments upon migrants and analyze how and why migration/migrants have been categorized as “good” or “bad” over time. Students will also encounter and consider the effects of growing urbanization and industrialization, changing demography and global trade patterns, and, more recently, the impact of climate change. Migrants and Mobility will be primarily seminar based, placing a premium on participation and analytical discussion.

Crosslisted With: GLAF 30141, section 01
Crosslisted With: EURO 30141, section 01
Crosslisted With: ANTH 30307, section 01
Crosslisted With: AFST 30692, section 01
Crosslisted With: HIST 30926, section 01


CHR 30712: Black Political Thought

Generic Round

This course will focus on the writings of Black political thinkers in the Americas, Africa, and Europe. Through critical examination of the conditions against, and contexts within, which the political theories of these thinkers are situated, this course hopes to arrive at some understanding of the principles, goals and strategies developed to contest and redefine notions/concepts of citizenship (vis-a-vis the imperatives of race/racism and the global colonial formations), humanity, justice, equality, development, democracy, and freedom.

Crosslisted With: AFST 30682, section 01
Crosslisted With: CNST 30644, section 01
Crosslisted With: HESB 30375, section 01
Crosslisted With: IIPS 30316, section 01
Crosslisted With: PHIL 20409, section 01
Crosslisted With: POLS 30161, section 01


CHR 30715: Introduction to International Human Rights

Generic Round

Are human rights modern inventions or are they as old as humankind? Are they universal or culturally specific? How much progress, if any, has transnational human rights advocacy achieved? How and to what extent should human rights influence foreign policy? What are the advantages and disadvantages of encoding human rights in international law? By examining these and similar questions, this course initiates students in the study of international human rights. In addition to informative readings, intriguing podcasts, and interactive lectures the course features in-class debates on the most pressing human rights problems.

Crosslisted With: KSGA 30203, section 01
Crosslisted With: IIPS 30327, section 01
Crosslisted With: GLAF 30127, section 01



CHR 30719: Human Trafficking Policy

Generic Round

The course will examine U.S. policies and practices to combat human trafficking including how U.S. policies advance the prevention of trafficking in persons, the protection of victims and survivors and the punishment of perpetrators as a foreign policy objective of the U.S. Students will develop a basic understanding of the various aspects of and perspectives in human trafficking including domestic and international law; foreign nationals and United States Citizens; victim services, survivor aftercare and law enforcement and sex and labor trafficking. Students will also analyze international trafficking prohibitions under the various international conventions and identify current trafficking issues in the United States, with a particular focus on commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor and involuntary servitude and the range of remedies available when rights have been violated. Finally, students will identify gaps in existing remedies and formulate policies to address them.

Crosslisted With: KSGA 30412, section 01
Crosslisted With: HESB 30410, section 01
Crosslisted With: GLAF 30106, section 01


CHR 30721: U.S. Civil Rights in History and Law

Generic Round

Civil Rights in the US is a living tradition that students can both understand and engage with. This course traces the non-linear, contested and ongoing history of Civil Rights in the US from the founding period to the present. It employs the perspectives of a lawyer and historian to illustrate how: the Civil War and the end of slavery made Civil Rights in the US possible, international human rights and Civil Rights in the US have interacted over time; the complicated relationship between the definition of Civil Rights and the realization of these rights played out over time, and the tensions between the federal government and the states continue to shape Civil Rights down to the present. The course is structured around three key historical periods in which Civil Rights in the US developed and the divisive legacy of these periods of possibility: The Founding and Constitutional period 1776-1790, Civil War and Reconstruction, 1863-1883 and the Civil Rights Era 1945-1991. Through an examination of social movements, Supreme Court cases, and congressional action the course illustrates how the meaning of citizenship and civil rights, who constituted a citizen, and what institutions—state and local government, private individuals, and so on—posed the biggest threat to equal treatment under the law changed over time. Finally, the course provides opportunities for students to actively participate in the US Civil Rights tradition.

Crosslisted With: KSGA 30709, section 01
Crosslisted With: GLAF 30116, section 01


CHR 30722: American Slavery

Generic Round

This course provides an introduction to the history of American slavery. After examining the origins and transformation of Atlantic world slavery, the course focuses particularly on slavery in the United States. Between the American Revolution and the Civil War, the United States grew into the largest slaveholding society in the modern world. U.S. slavery's growth was driven forward by massive global economic transformations and territorial conquest. Yet, in the face of unprecedented violence, enslaved people themselves brought about the end of slavery and transformed the meaning of freedom in the United States. This course focuses on this history from the perspective of enslaved people themselves with particular attention to struggles for freedom. Through an examination of this history and its legacies, the course will introduce students to histories of resistance.

Crosslisted With: AFST 30232, section 01
Crosslisted With: AMST 30992, section 01
Crosslisted With: HIST 30633, section 01
Crosslisted With: ILS 30413, section 01
Crosslisted With: IIPS 30329, section 01


CHR 30723: Social Movements for Health and Disability Justice

Generic Round

Although advances in science and technology have made tremendous gains in promoting health and longevity, these achievements have not been experienced evenly. Instead, devastating health and disability-based inequities persist, such as environmental racism and disability-based discrimination. As a result, social movement groups and organizations are fighting to protect vulnerable communities and promote civil rights. This class will therefore address how social movements have impacted the health and human rights of vulnerable social groups in the US and beyond today. To do so, we will (1) use a sociological perspective to investigate the structural determinants of health and the social construction of disabilities, and (2) investigate how advocates, activists, and organizations fight for good health and disability justice. This course will require participation in a daylong multi-fieldsite visit, weekly readings, presentations, and a final paper.

Crosslisted With: SOC 40555, section 01
Crosslisted With: HESB 40118, section 01
Crosslisted With: HHS 40555, section 01
Crosslisted With: IIPS 40519, section 01
Crosslisted With: SOC 40555, section 02



CHR 30725: God & Slavery in the Americas

Generic Round

More than a century before African slaves were trafficked to the Virginia colony in 1619, Christopher Columbus transported captured indigenous peoples to Spain from the New World. The dispossession and enslavement of non-Europeans in the colonization of the Americas was justified by Christians but also condemned by Christians with different economic and political interests. This development course in theology introduces students to the challenging intersection of faith, slavery, and freedom by exploring key figures, events, and movements that have shaped the complex historical legacy of Christianity in the Americas, a hemispheric past that remains ever bound together. In addition to Christianity's role in colonial expansion and racial ideology, the course especially considers how lived faith in God provided a catalyst for the empowerment and resistance of the oppressed and their advocates in shared struggles to attain greater social justice, racial equality, and political autonomy. From the "Protector of the Indians" Bartolomé de las Casas to César Chávez, and the "Black Moses" Harriet Tubman to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the course explores these and other extraordinary figures of hope in the Americas who gave their lives to protest social violence and promote authentic expressions of faith. In the course, students will engage this turbulent past through a contextual approach to theology that examines idolatry, migration, land, liberty, poverty, social sin, nonviolence, and solidarity as normative categories relevant for addressing contemporary social crises afflicting our nation and earth.

Crosslisted With: THEO 20674, section 01
Crosslisted With: AFST 20302, section 01
Crosslisted With: ILS 20812, section 01
Crosslisted With: THEO 20674, section 02
Crosslisted With: IIPS 20511, section 01


CHR 30726 Racial Justice in America

Generic Round

Racial Justice in America is focused on the historic and current impact of racial injustice and the urgency of the work of racial justice today. Racial Justice in America will invite course participants to consider how the stories of the struggle for racial justice in the United States shapes our imaginations for the work of racial justice today. The centerpiece of this course is a required spring break immersion to major civil rights locations in the South. Additionally, students will read/reflect on how we tell the stories of racism in the United States and will create their own narrative/reflective account of their experience with racism and the civil rights movement sites.

Crosslisted With: CSC 33304, section 01
Crosslisted With: ILS 33805, section 01


CHR 30728: Latinos in the Future of America

Generic Round

This course will examine the opportunities and challenges facing Latino communities today as they simultaneously transform and are transformed by their continuing growth in U.S. society. Through a careful examination of the biographies of leaders in Latino communities, we will examine what role they have each played in empowering Latino communities to advance in business, arts, education, community organizing, entertainment, medicine, religion, law, academia, politics, and other areas. The course will coincide with the Transformative Latino Leadership Speaker Series sponsored by the Arthur Foundation through the Institute for Latino Studies. Students in the class will have the opportunity to interact with invited leaders in several setting including the classroom, meals, receptions, and university-wide events. The primary course requirement is a research essay about the life and career of a chosen leader.

Crosslisted With: ILS 43501, section 01
Crosslisted With: AMST 30463, section 01
Crosslisted With: POLS 30136, section 01
Crosslisted With: HESB 43889, section 01


CHR 30734: Resisting Change

Generic Round

Sociologists who study social movements and activism typically address questions about how disadvantaged groups are able to organize and engage in sustained protest in hopes of bringing about progressive change. In recent years, however, we have witnessed the growth of many organizations that aim to prevent change with hopes of preserving benefits that they enjoy. To understand this form of organized resistance to change, we need to closely examine how power operates in society to understand conditions that give rise to activism that resists progressive change. We consider the extent to which theories designed to explain progressive activism fail to account for conservative activism. The ultimate goal for the course is to provide you with the tools needed to formulate your own research questions and to engage with the academic literature to theorize your questions in a way that could lead to publishable research.

Crosslisted With: SOC 43585, section 01
Crosslisted With: HESB 43585, section 01
Crosslisted With: SOC 43585, section 02
Crosslisted With: IIPS 43507, section 01


CHR 30735: Social Consequences of Mass Incarceration

Generic Round

Given the dramatic rise in mass incarceration over the last 50 years, understanding the spillover consequences of this uniquely American phenomenon has become increasingly important as a growing number of families now have direct experience with imprisonment. This course will provide a broad overview of the ripple effects of mass imprisonment on family life and how it shapes opportunity and structures disadvantage for communities, families, and especially children. This will be done through 1) exposure to mixed-media portrayals of imprisonment’s effects on family and community life and 2) the close analysis of empirical research on the spillover and intergenerational consequences of incarceration across a range of outcomes. With the concentration of imprisonment falling among poor, minority families, much of the readings in this course will focus on family life in urban communities of color, however, we will spend a little time exploring broader accounts, including those of rural communities and encourage students to consider impacts for families exposed to incarceration due to white-collar crimes.

Crosslisted With: SOC 43787, section 01
Crosslisted With: HESB 43787, section 01
Crosslisted With: SOC 43787, section 02
Crosslisted With: AMST 30501, section 01


CHR 30736: Race Locales: Race, Space, and Place in America

Generic Round

This course examines the socio-histories, movement, and settlement patterns of racial minorities in America. The course will focus on how race and racial imaginaries shape the movement and settlement of racial minorities. It will include deep examinations of these mobility patterns and how they are constructed and articulated through laws, policies, and social arrangements. Special attention will be paid to the racialization of the United States, American-ness as whiteness, and the consequences for the social and physical landscape. And finally, the course will consider how the racial construction of America is manifested and buttressed through the built environment and the consequences.

Crosslisted With: IIPS 30205, section 01
Crosslisted With: ILS 33704, section 01
Crosslisted With: AMST 30995, section 01


CHR 30738: Prisons and Policing in the United States

Generic Round

Scholars and activists use the concept of the "carceral state" to describe the official, government use of criminalization, surveillance, and mass imprisonment to exercise control over society. This course examines the histories, cultures, politics, and economics of the US carceral state. Reading feminist scholarship from across the disciplines, we will study its genealogy — beginning with the surveillance embedded in the earliest practices of slavery and settler colonialism, tracing its development through the 19th and early 20th centuries, and concluding with the rise of the modern prison industrial complex. We will then focus on contemporary case studies including the "war on drugs," immigrant detention, sex-crime regulation, and police violence. Finally, we will consider alternatives to prisons and policing, as we learn about academic research and activist movements working to end state violence, abolish prisons, defund police, and build opportunities for restorative justice. We will ask and address such questions as: How does the US carceral state function as a tool for social control? What histories, policies, and ideologies underlie the carceral state? How have individuals and organizations worked to reform, transform, or abolish the carceral state? How have media and the arts been used to normalize and/or critique the carceral state? And can we imagine a world without prisons or police?

Crosslisted With: GSC 40522, section 01
Crosslisted With: HESB 40104, section 01
Crosslisted With: HIST 30861, section 01
Crosslisted With: IIPS 40921, section 01
Crosslisted With: AFST 40711, section 01


CHR 30739: Disability in American History and Culture

Generic Round

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 26% of Americans (about 61 million people) have a disability—a physical, intellectual, sensory, or self-care impediment that affects major life activities. This course considers this population, their stories and experiences, as well as how disability—as a social, cultural, legal, and political construct—has shaped the nation and its history. A particular focus of the course will be on disability and social justice. Throughout American history, and still today, disabled people have been excluded from basic civil rights, such as voting, marrying, holding property, and living independently. This course will examine how these restrictions developed and changed over time as well as how disabled people have fought for greater access and equality. Coursework may include response papers, primary source analysis, and a final project.

Crosslisted With: AMST 30154, section 01
Crosslisted With: AMST 30154, section 02
Crosslisted With: GSC 30679, section 01
Crosslisted With: HHS 30154, section 01
Crosslisted With: STV 30154, section 01


CHR 30740: The Asian American Experience

Generic Round

This class will survey the various historical and contemporary dimensions of Asian American experiences including immigration & integration, family & community dynamics, ethnic/gender/class identity, as well as transnational and diasporic experiences. We will explore contemporary and historical issues of racism, the model minority myth, inter-generational relationships, and the educational experiences of Asian Americans. To accomplish this, our class will pose such questions as: Who is Asian American? How did racism create Chinatown? Is there an Asian advantage? Coursework includes essays based on topics of your choice, presentations, and a creative narrative.

Crosslisted With: AMST 30119, section 01
Crosslisted With: AMST 30119, section 02
Crosslisted With: SOC 30119, section 01
Crosslisted With: ASIA 30117, section 01


CHR 30741: Race and Popular Culture

Generic Round

While it is a notoriously difficult concept to define, “race” is undoubtedly a powerful force in American life. Focusing on the late nineteenth century to the present, this course examines the ways in which racial ideas are formed, negotiated, and resisted in the arenas of American literature and popular culture. From the story of racial confusion in Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894) to contemporary cultural politics of performance and appropriation, this course will ask how popular culture actively shapes—rather than merely reflects—American ideas about race and ethnicity. A key aim of the class is to go beyond looking for “good” and “bad” pop culture texts to explore the deeper meanings of racism and antiracism. By closely engaging with a diverse set of theoretical, historical, and primary texts, students will learn to approach and analyze popular culture with a critical eye.

Crosslisted With: AMST 30169, section 01
Crosslisted With: AMST 30169, section 02
Crosslisted With: ILS 30006, section 01
Crosslisted With: AFST 30114, section 01


CHR 30742: Immigrant America

Generic Round

Nearly one in four people is an immigrant or child of immigrants in the United States. This course critically examines what it means to be an immigrant or child of immigrants through interdisciplinary sources, including memoirs, blogs, art, and popular journalism. Since the liberalization of immigration policy in 1965, immigrants from Latin America and Asia are becoming an increasing and emergent demographic of American society. In major American cities such as Los Angeles and New York, they comprise over 50% of the population. This course focuses on how immigrants and the children of immigrants experience the United States. How are immigrants changing the US racial and ethnic structure? How do their experiences differ, given varying legal statuses? How is the second generation becoming American? We will explore these questions through family, media representation, religion, education, dating, and sexuality. Students will participate in a service-learning opportunity related to migration and social justice and learn skills in quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Service learning will be 2-3 hours outside of class each week.

Crosslisted With: AMST 30145, section 01
Crosslisted With: AMST 30145, section 02
Crosslisted With: ILS 30145, section 01
Crosslisted With: ANTH 30115, section 01
Crosslisted With: SOC 30145, section 01


CHR 30743: Biosocial Determinants of Health

Generic Round

Global health is an area of study, research and practice that focuses on achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. The health status of individuals and populations arise from a myriad of complex biological, social, economic, political, and environmental factors that operate synergistically. Through a social justice lens, we will examine how these factors shape health outcomes and how interventions must be developed that include addressing the root causes of inequity. We will use a case-based approach, focusing on specific health problems in several countries, including the United States. Cases will include a variety of themes including health disparities arising from stress-associated racial discrimination, the epidemiological transition from infectious to non-communicable diseases, and how the health effects of climate change disproportionately affect the most vulnerable

Crosslisted With: BIOS 60206, section 01
Crosslisted With: STV 40206, section 01
Crosslisted With: GH 60207, section 01
Crosslisted With: HHS 40207, section 01


CHR 40114: Policy Lab: Faith Communities, International Migration, and Refugee Protection

Generic Round

This five-week course will examine forced migration from the perspective of the beliefs, teachings, and programmatic commitments of faith communities. The first week will be devoted to identifying the causes of and global trends in forced migration, as well as the categories of forced migrants. It will also explore the “law of migration”; that is, the diverse legal systems that migrants must negotiate on their journeys and that religious actors use to assess migration policies. The second week will explore the teachings of diverse faith communities on forced migration, their understanding of this immense and growing phenomenon, and their programmatic and policy responses. The third week will segue to state-centered approaches to the governance and management of migration, with a focus on the concepts of sovereignty and the rule of law. It will also consider ideologies such as nativism and exclusionary nationalism that are in tension with the beliefs, policy positions, and programs of religious actors. The fourth week will be devoted to guest speakers and student presentations on situations of protracted displacement throughout the world. Persons in protracted displacement have lived in exile for at least five years and have no viable course out of their “long lasting and intractable status of limbo.” The fifth week will be devoted to US refugee protection trends and policies.

Crosslisted With: GLAF 40114, section 01
Crosslisted With: MGA 60844, section 01
Crosslisted With: KSGA 40495, section 01
Crosslisted With: ANTH 40066, section 01
Crosslisted With: AFST 41675, section 01


CHR 40590: Law and Utopia in Atlantic America

Generic Round

Is it possible to think of the 21st century as a post-racial, post-feminist world? In her provocative 2012 study, Body as Evidence: Mediating Race, Globalizing Gender, Janell Hobson suggests that rather than having been eradicated, millennial hopes that the historical difficulties represented by race and gender have lost their significance in the present day are as far, if not even further away from the mark as they have ever been. For Hobson, policing the body, whether that be in terms of its race, its gender, or its sexuality, has remained paramount. "[W]hile the early-twenty-first century discourse of 'postracial' and 'postfeminist' often declares the loss of meaning attached to race and gender," she argues, "..the global scope of our media-reliant information culture insists on perpetuating raced and gendered meanings that support ideologies of dominance, privilege, and power." In Hobson's view, the body and how it is imagined rests at the center of such ideologies, pointing also to a number of crucial questions that become particularly important when considering the significance of race and gender through the lens of modernity. How might a reconsideration of race point also to a rethinking of gender and vice-versa? What does race actually mean? How does/can it alter the way we understand gender? Is it possible to think race beyond the idea of race? What might a new conception of race actually look like, and how might this influence our thinking on gender? How are the problems of race and gender intertwined, and how is/has the body been imagined in and through them? What can such questions tell us about today's racial and gendered realities, both inside and outside the university, both in the past and the present? This course takes a step backward to investigate these and other like questions in the context of the utopic impulse and its emphasis on the imagination in several 19th-century American authors whose work may be viewed as participating in a broad yet under-acknowledged vision of race, gender and Atlantic modernity that seeks to interrogate hierarchies of race and gender as these have been constructed and maintained within dominant ideologies. Grounding our analysis in a number of 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century political philosophical texts on law and utopia and drawing on insights from critical race theory, gender studies, feminist theory, theories of law and literature, and utopian studies, our goal will be to gain a more nuanced understanding of our racialized past and its troubled link to questions of gender both then and now, so that we may better hope to imagine - and reimagine - the shape of our collective democratic future in the 21st century's global community. Course Texts: To be determined, but will most likely include some of the following, either in their entirety or in the form of relevant excerpts: Plato's Republic; Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince; Thomas More, Utopia; Francis Bacon, The New Atlantis; James Harrington,

Crosslisted With: ENGL 40590, section 01
Crosslisted With: ENGL 40590, section 02
Crosslisted With: GSC 40579, section 01
Crosslisted With: AFST 43102, section 01