PLIR 2500: Human Rights in a World of States - Origins, Effects, Prospects

Instructor: Michael Smith, Associate Professor

Days of the Week: MTWRF

Course Times: 2:00 - 4:15 pm

Course Description: Human rights have been called "the idea of our time" and, more skeptically, "the last utopia." But where do human rights come from, and how are they implemented and enforced? This course considers the debates on the origins, impact, and effectiveness of human rights as ideas, and as guides to practice, both within and among nation-states. Have human rights enabled the emergence of NGOs and "global civil society"? Can foreign policy be based on the promotion of human rights, and if so, what would such a policy look like? How have human rights made a real difference in the lives of ordinary people across the globe?  Students will study history and theory, as well as specific case studies, to engage these questions. 

Students also enroll in an additional 1000- or 2000-level course of their choice. UVA Advance staff advise students and oversee course selection.

Michael Joseph Smith is the Thomas C. Sorensen Professor of Political and Social Thought and Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia.  A product of public schools in Yonkers, New York, he holds a B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University, and an M.Phil. from Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar. Prof. Smith came to the University of Virginia in 1986, and has taught a wide variety of courses on human rights, political thought, ethics, and international relations.