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Pathways in Human Rights

Program(s): Immersion

This course is currently at capacity. If you select this course as a first choice on your application, please apply for second options that fulfills your interests.

*Taught Online for Summer 2021*  What are “human rights”? How are they different from “civil rights”? How do laws, treaties, and norms work in practice to protect rights? Are human rights truly universal, applying to all? Students will explore these questions and more, addressing human rights on a local, national, and global scale. Course materials will include philosophical essays and historical analyses, contemporary court decisions, films and other artistic representations, as well as virtual visits with outstanding human rights advocates and artists.  

In 2021, the program will focus on two issues, preceded by a general introduction to the theory and practice of international human rights.

The prohibition against torture and police abuse:  This unit taught by Susan Gzesh (Senior Lecturer in the College) focuses on the prohibition against torture, one of the most clearly defined yet frequently violated human rights. Students will learn about the potential and limitations of the modern human rights regime. Why would a torture regime be tolerated in a liberal, democratic society? What are the roles of perpetrators, victims, and society at large? How did the struggle against torture of suspects by Chicago police presage contemporary mass protests against police abuse and structural racism? Students will meet with torture survivors, clinicians, and NGO representatives. 

The rights of immigrants:  This unit taught by Angela Garcia (Assistant Professor in the School of Social Service Administration) examines migration across international borders through the lens of human rights.  Specific issues will include how state policies create and sustain migration flows and the way in which current restrictions on immigration and immigrants curtail human rights.  

Daily Course Expectations

  • 6 hours of daily work
  • Mix of synchronous and asynchronous work (see definitions here)
  • 1 required synchronous session per day: 9:00 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. CST

Course Considerations

This course is ideal for high school students who want to think critically about human rights and the complexity of finding solutions to social justice issues, both at home and abroad. Participants will develop the research, writing, interviewing, and observation skills that will help them to become better global citizens, who are equipped to understand and intervene in the world around them. Similar courses include Pathways in World Politics.

Discussion Intensive

Course Overview

Current Grade / Education Level

9th Grade
10th Grade
11th Grade



Start Date

June 21

End Date

July 08

Class Details

Primary Instructor

Susan Gzesh

Secondary Instructor

Academic Interest

Examining Culture and Society
Social Sciences (e.g., history, sociology)

Class Specifics

Course Code

HMRT 11000 94

Class Day(s)

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri


Session I

Course Length

3 weeks