Syllabus - Summer 2013
HRTS 1007 – Introduction to Human Rights

Excluding textbooks, the information on this syllabus is subject to change.  For the most up-to-date syllabus, check this site on the first day of classes. 

 Course and Instructor Information

Course Title:
Introduction to Human Rights (HRTS 1007)
Format: Online via HuskyCT

Nicole White

E-mail: (After the first day of classes, students registered in the course should send messages to the instructor via HuskyCT Messages). Office hourse by appointment.

Availability: Unless otherwise noted, I will check into the course at least five days a week to monitor discussions and respond to HuskyCT Messages. If I expect to be away due to illness, travel or family obligations, I will make every attempt to notify you in advance.



Additional Information:

The developers of this course are Nicole White, UConn Human Rights Institute Graduate Assistant and Glenn Mitoma, UConn Human Rights Institute Assistant Professor In Residence. 

Course Description

In recent years, “human rights” has become among the most powerful ways of thinking about and fighting for a more just world. This course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of human rights as a concept, a set of laws and institutions, and as a set of political and cultural practices. We begin by considering definitions, historical and institutional foundations of human rights. We then focus on several particular human rights issues, groups of human rights and human rights of certain groups of people. Along the way, we will take different disciplinary approaches - legal, philosophical, literary etc. – to our subject. By the end of the semester, we will have developed an understanding of the institutions and processes related to human rights and familiarity with key intellectual debates as well as differing policy and advocacy strategies.

Course Materials

Students must have all required course materials before the first day of class.

The following text is available through a local or online bookstore. For more information, see Textbooks and Materials on our Enrolled Students page. 

Required Text:

Satrapi, M. (2004). Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. Pantheon. (ISBN: 978-0375714573)

Other Required Materials:

  • Microphone (for recording a presentation)
  • Speakers (for listening to presentations)

Additional course readings and media are available within HuskyCT, through either an Internet link or Library Resources (Electronic Course Reserve/ECR).

Course Requirements and Grading

The final course grade will be based upon the following required components:

Course Component

Percentage of Final Grade









Final Paper


Group Project




In each module, there are one or two small group discussions. For each discussion, you are to compose an original and thoughtful response. Your response should clearly draw on the module’s readings, using APA or MLA format to cite all references. You may also reference additional sources from reliable articles, books or book chapters, media outlets, sites etc. After you complete your original response, you are to engage with the responses of your peers by posting at least two comments which enhance or expand the discussion for the group. Discussions are graded out of 100 points. For more details on the criteria used to assess the quality of your contribution to each discussion, see the Discussion Rubric linked in HuskyCT.


Each module has one or two short quizzes covering the assigned readings. Quizzes are individual exercises that should be completed without the assistance of others. During the quiz, you may refer to your readings. You may take each quiz twice before its close date. If you achieve a score of 80% or higher on a quiz, you will earn full credit, or 100 points.  If you score below 80%, you will receive zero points.


Each module starts with a journal activity asking for you to write your initial thoughts about the module’s topic without referencing outside resources. This initial entry is graded for completion only.  If you complete the initial journal entry, you earn full credit, or 100 points.  If you do not complete the entry, you receive no credit, or zero points.

Some modules will have you revisit your initial journal entry and critically reflect on how the module has changed, or not changed, your opinion(s) on the topic. This entry should draw on the module’s readings and discussions to substantiate your views. The reflection journal is graded out of 100 points.  For more details on the criteria used to assess the quality of your journal reflections, see the Journal Reflection Rubric linked in HuskyCT.


Some modules include a wiki activity, which is an entire class exercise. The wiki is a collaborative tool allowing you to share definitions and research activities with your peers.

For definition wiki exercises, post your own definition or modify the definitions of your peers.  The goal is to work towards a common class definition. Any changes to a class definition should include a comment justifying the change. For research wiki exercises, post your findings and discuss with your peers what to add or drop from a list. Wiki exercises are graded for completion only. If you complete the wiki exercise, you earn full credit, or 100 points.  If you do not complete the wiki exercise, you receive no credit, or zero points. For more details on the criteria used to assess completion, see the Wiki Rubric linked in HuskyCT.

Final Paper

By the end of module 7, you will submit a research paper. You may choose whether you write a social science paper, about a topic from our modules, or a humanities paper, in which you relate a book or film series to human rights. Your paper should demonstrate an analysis of a (political) situation or a cultural product in terms of human rights. It should incorporate three secondary sources; you may draw on our course readings and additional reliable sources. You are to cite all references properly in either APA or MLA format. The final paper is graded out of 100. For more details on the criteria used to assess your paper, see the Paper Rubric linked in HuskyCT.       

Group Project

For the group project, you will work in small groups of 3-5 students to research a specific genocide case. Your group should find information on the history, legal proceedings and representations of your case and collaboratively present your findings during the last week of class. You will also engage with the presentations from the other groups in the class. Part of the group project is for you to evaluate your own presentation, the work of each of your team members and the presentation of one other group. More information on the specifics and due dates of each step, are detailed in HuskyCT. You can receive a maximum of 115 points for the group project. For further information on the criteria used to assess your project, see the Group Project Rubric linked in HuskyCT.

The final course grading scale is as follows (Note: Final Grades will not be rounded):


Letter Grade






































Due Dates

The Course Schedule in HuskyCT lists all due dates for the course.  All course deadlines are based on Eastern Standard Time; if you are in a different time zone, please adjust your submittal times accordingly.

Feedback and Grades

I will make every effort to provide feedback and grades in a timely manner. To keep track of your performance in the course, refer to My Grades in HuskyCT.

Course Objectives

By the end of the semester, you should be able to:

  • Recognize key terms and major institutions in the Human Rights field.
  • Critically interpret news and scholarly articles on Human Rights issues by questioning assumptions and theses.
  • Analyze Human Rights issues from different disciplinary perspectives.
  • Justify personal Human Rights standpoints with supporting evidence from course readings and materials. 
  • Analyze a political situation, or cultural product, in terms of human rights.
  • Create a collaborative and researched-based presentation to inform the class about a specific case of genocide.

Course Outline

Module 1: International System of Human Rights

Module 2: Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

Module 3: Torture

Module 4: Economic and Social Rights

Module 5: Minority and Indigenous Rights

Module 6: Women’s Rights

Module 7: Migrant and Refugee Rights

Module 8: Group Presentations and Course Reflection

Student Responsibilities and Resources

As a member of the University of Connecticut student community, you are held to certain standards and academic policies. In addition, there are numerous resources available to help you succeed in your academic work. This section provides a brief overview to important standards, policies and resources.

Student Code

You are responsible for acting in accordance with the University of Connecticut's Student Code, available at Review and become familiar with these expectations. In particular, make sure you have read the section that applies to you on Academic Integrity:

Cheating and plagiarism are taken very seriously at the University of Connecticut. As a student, it is your responsibility to avoid plagiarism. If you need more information about the subject of plagiarism, use the following resources:  

Netiquette and Communication

At all times, course communication with fellow students and the instructor are to be professional and courteous. It is expected that you proof read all your written communication, including discussion posts, assignment submissions, and mail messages. If you are new to online learning or need a netiquette refresher, please look at this guide titled, The Core Rules of Netiquette.

Adding or Dropping a Course

If you should decide to add or drop a course, there are official procedures to follow:  

You must officially drop a course to avoid receiving an "F" on your permanent transcript. Simply discontinuing class or informing the instructor you want to drop does not constitute an official drop of the course. For more information, refer to the:

Academic Calendar

The University's Academic Calendar contains important semester dates.

Students with Disabilities

Students needing special accommodations should work with the University's Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD). You may contact CSD by calling (860) 486-2020 or by emailing . If your request for accommodation is approved, CSD will send an accommodation letter directly to your instructor(s) so that special arrangements can be made. (Note: Student requests for accommodation must be filed each semester.)

The University of Connecticut's online course management system, HuskyCT, is a product of Blackboard, Inc. "Blackboard measures and evaluates accessibility levels using two sets of standards; Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act issued from the United States federal government and the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) issued by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)." (Retrieved December 1, 2008 from


Software and Platform Requirements

This course is completely facilitated online using the learning management platform, HuskyCT. If you have difficulty accessing HuskyCT, call the Digital Learning Center (DLC) at (860) 486-1187, or contact them online (including instant chat) at

Minimum Technical Skills

To be successful in this course, you will need the following technical skills:

  • Use presentation programs.
  • Use electronic mail with attachments.
  • Save files in commonly used word processing program formats.
  • Copy and paste text, graphics or hyperlinks.
  • Work within two or more browser windows simultaneously.
  • Open and access PDF files.

Evaluation of the Course

Students will be provided an opportunity to evaluate instruction in this course using the University's standard procedures, which are administered by the Office of Institutional Research.


Updated: 05/08/2013 10:21 AM