Human Rights & Social Justice Stream in GESJ

GEND 1007: Special Topics in Gender Equality and Social Justice - Human Trafficking Fall 2015 syllabus

Human trafficking typically is seen as having three phases: (1) control of movement or physical transportation (2) the use of coercion or fraud and lack of consent, and (3) exploitation, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour.  While there may be global consensus that human trafficking is a terrible human rights crime that must be stopped, there is much controversy about how to do so.  For example, how should we understand exploitation, particularly sexual exploitation? Is prostitution inherently exploitive? Are traffickers and pimps one and the same? Would the abolition of prostitution stop the problem of sex trafficking? Should we treat human trafficking primarily as a criminal problem or as a human rights problem?  What are the weaknesses and advantages of each approach? Why does trafficking occur? Why do some “victims” not want to be “rescued”? Does anti-trafficking policy help to support anti-immigration policy, and vice versa?

GEND 3306: Theories of Power and Equality   Fall 2015 syllabus

This course provides a broad historical examination of theories and perspectives of power, sexual difference, and gender equality. We will trace the relationship between the history of ideas and significant social events and revolutionary political activism that have taken place over the centuries. Our overview will include consideration of mainstream theoretical traditions, such as humanism, liberalism, socialism, and psychoanalysis, and their implications in the theory and development of race, class and gender analysis, feminist theories and perspectives, and social justice. 2010  Topic: Postcolonialism, Knowledge and Voice.



GEND 2227: Genocide and Mass Violence in Rwanda Winter 2015 syllabus

From April to July 1994, approximately 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and "moderate" Hutu were killed and an estimated 250,000 women were raped in the Rwandan genocide In addition to Tutsi loss of life, between 10,000 and several hundred thousand ethnic Hutu were killed in efforts to end the civil war and in reprisal attacks. How and why did this happen? In this course, we undertake an in-depth study of the causes and aggravating factors in the Rwandan genocide. We do so through an examination of structural violence, gender inequality, international complicity and human agency. We then turn to a brief examination of post-genocide Rwanda, noting particular the complexities of conducting research in politically oppressive situations with traumatized populations.

GEND 2147: Citizenship and Social Justice   Fall 2013 syllabus

This course is a broad survey of the relationship between citizenship and the enjoyment of rights.  We examine the meaning of citizenship, its historical expansion, and the extent to which access to rights is dependent upon recognition and belonging to a community.  Topics may include: the gendered dimensions of citizenship; marginalization and identity; the place of the enemy, alien, or refugee; and cosmopolitan or global citizenship. (3 credits)

GEND 4205: Honours Seminar: Critical Research, Epistemology and Structural Violence Fall-Winter 2013-2014 syllabus

Studies in Gender Equality and Social Justice is an interdisciplinary program that examines the social and cultural construction of gender, and its role and impact on social relations, institutions, and related systems of knowledge. It offers students a range of interdisciplinary perspectives on the work, status, and lives of women in our local, national, and global communities, and the contributions of men and women to changing our social, political, economic, and legal status. This seminar will offer students advanced studies in topics related to these themes. The topics will change from year to year.

GEND 2187: International Human Rights   Fall 2012 syllabus

In this course we examine how international human rights law and norms are promoted and proected under conditions of globalization. We survey major human rights instruments and the different actors and institutions involved in the international human rights regime. We ask what it means to say that human rights are "universal" and how they interact with local values and processes. When might "sovereignty," "culture" and "tradition" serve to protect gender-based violence and other human rights abuses, and when does the discourse of human rights function to impose "Western" human rights be translated into local justice?

GEND 3207: The United Nations and the Responsibility to Protect   Fall 2012 syllabus

How have the United Nations and other international organizations fared in their "responsibility to protect" human beings from genocide war crimes, and crimes against humanity? Inquiring into the three main principles of the "responsibility to protect" -- to prevent, to react, and to rebuild -- we examine intervention, justice, and peacebuilding through an overview of the structure and functions of the United Nations, and an examination of its record of protection in specific cases including gender-based violence.

GEND 2226: Case Studies in Persecution and Violent Conflict   slated Winter 2012-13

Fall 2010 syllabus - 2010 Topic: Rwandan Genocide

This course investigates the social, political and legal conditions that make possible the persecution of vulnerable groups. We examine how specific groups are constructed as social or political threats and targeted as scapegoats, enemies, or even non-human. The course may focus on phenomena such as general religious, ethnic or political persecution; the role of persecution in maintaining social and sexual oppression or vice versa; and how persecution and fear may escalate into violent conflict, ethnic cleansing, or genocide.

GEND 3127: Gender, Globalization and Human Rights   slated Winter 2012-13

This course is designed to familiarize students with a range of issues related to gender and globalization. To achieve this end, the course will first endeavour to make sense of the concept of globalization; this will necessitate a look at how globalization is structured, how it operates and how it conditions both local and global contexts. We will investigate gender relations and gendered processes in the contexts of economic, legal, political, and/or cultural globalization. Specific topics may include the feminization of labour and poverty, sex work and trafficking, development and neoliberalism, militarization, migration, and social justice activism.

GEND 3227: Transitional Justice   Winter 2010-11

This course examines legal, ethical and sociopolitical responses to massive human rights violations in post-authoritarian and post-conflict societies. We ask whether, and how, the restoration of the rule of law, the (re)construction of democratic institutions, and the demands of truth, justice and reconciliation can be met. How should countries "deal with the past"? Is justice enough, and what kind of justice? Are some acts beyond forgiveness and punishment? Are truth, reparation and reconciliation possible? What are the gendered implications of atrocity and its remedy? We investigate these and other questions through historical and current case studies. This course may be credited towards Political Science.

GEND 2146:  Law, Power and Justice   2009-10

What is the relationship between law, power and justice?  How do systems of law create or reinforce inequalities?  What is the emancipatory potential of law?  In this course, we examine various critical approaches in understanding the practice and organization of law and legal institutions.  We explore the dual nature of law as both a system of power and a means to challenge existing relations of power.  Topics may include the intersections between law, justice and gender, race, class, sexuality, or disability. (3 credits)

GEND 3057:  Selected Topics in Human Rights and Social Justice

2007: International Human Rights: Local and Global   (syllabus)

In this course we examine how international human rights law and norms interact with local values and processes.  What does it mean to say that human rights are “universal”?  How might universality and diversity, or abstract values and particular contexts, be reconciled, if at all?  When might “culture” and “tradition” serve to protect human rights abuses, and when does the discourse of human rights function to impose “Western” values in the interests in dominant powers?  How can international human rights be translated in local justice?

2009: Apartheid and the 'new' South Africa  (syllabus)

South Africa's transition to democracy after nearly fifty years of racial capitalism is heralded as one of the great triumphs of freedom over brutality in the twentieth century.  Not only was civil war avoided but reconciliation, embodied in the personal stances of President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, became the mantra of the "rainbow nation."  Today, fourteen years into democracy, pressing concerns such as crime, poverty, and HIV/AIDS have eclipsed the euphoria of political freedom.  In 1994 the ANC government promised "a better future for all."  But how much has changed in the 'new' South Africa? 

In this survey course we first examine the structure and nature of apartheid and the dynamics of South Africa's negotiated transition to democracy.  How did race, class, ethnicity, gender and other social cleavages interact in the struggle for and against apartheid?  In the second half of the course, we examine how these social cleavages or groupings interact today both as the "legacy" of apartheid and in the face of new challenges wrought under conditions of globalisation.

GEND 3207:  The United Nations and International Justice (syllabus)

This course will provide students with an overview of the structure and function of the United Nations and other international organizations, courts and tribunals designed to protect human rights. In particular, the course will focus on the prevention and punishment of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.  Inquiring into the three main principles of the "responsibility to protect"—to prevent, to react, and to rebuild—we will examine the capacity and record of the international community especially in the cases of Rwanda, Darfur, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and with respect to gender-related claims and the capacity of international justice to redress social and economic harm.