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Human Rights Minor at SFC

St. Francis College has created a signature Human Rights Program. Integral to the Program is the new interdisciplinary Human Rights minor developed by the faculty in collaboration with Fellows who are external experts in their fields.

The Human Rights framework as a global road map for dignity, freedom, and equality for every individual everywhere has risen to prominence in recent years. With human rights and democracy under attack globally, it is critically important for students to gain an understanding of the root causes of these challenges confronting our world. This interdisciplinary minor analyzes these recent developments to equip students with a useable framework to understand why democracy and human rights have been eroded and what they can do as responsible global citizens to stem this tide through their informed activism and advocacy for change. A better future is possible, and they will be able to imagine it by exploring pathways of change through well-grounded policy and constructing effective campaigns for adoption and implementation.

The Human Rights minor—under the Economics, History, Political Science & Social Studies Department—pairs in meaningful and practical ways with many majors in the College and will add appreciable value to the student's degree. The minor thus provides a strong complement to many career pathways with growing opportunities. The Human Rights minor includes five (5) courses including an introductory course (PSC/HIS 1203: Understanding Human Rights), three electives from a variety of disciplines, and a Capstone Seminar (GLS 3316: Human Rights Activism, Advocacy and Change).

Many of the Human Rights courses are developed and taught by SFC Human Rights Fellows-who are experts from the corporate, non-profit, academic, and community sectors-in collaboration with full-time faculty. The Program has hosted three cohorts of Human Rights Fellows since April 2021:

K. Bain, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Community Capacity Development, a member of the New York City Racial Justice Commission and a leading community activist

Fernando Blanco, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Spanish and Director of Latin American Studies at Bucknell University

Luna Corbetta, Principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and an inclusive leader with 15+ years of experience driving C-level agendas, including diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives

Natalie Jesionka, M.A., researcher, journalist, documentary filmmaker, and former faculty at Rutgers University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Hakim M. A. Williams, Ed.D., Daria L. and Eric J. Wallach Professor of Peace and Justice Studies, Gettysburg College

Farid Hafez, Ph.D., the Class of 1955 Visiting Professor of International Studies at Williams College

The Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons, M.Div., writer, activist and senior minister of First Unitarian Universalist Congregational Society in Brooklyn

Pedro X. Molina, Nicaraguan political cartoonist, an Institute of International Education (IIE) Artist Protection Fund fellow and visiting critic in the Einaudi Center’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program at Cornell University.

Human Rights courses offered by the faculty and Human Rights Fellows include:

  • Understanding Human Rights
  • International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
  • Business and Human Rights
  • Human Trafficking, Gender, and Social Impact
  • Human Rights Activism, Advocacy, and Change
  • Islam, Democracy, and Human Rights
  • Justice and Ecology in the Hebrew Bible
  • Freshman Honors Seminar Focused on Human Rights Theme
  • Human Rights Education for Educators (being developed)

Students in the minor will be able to:

  • Take exciting, interdisciplinary courses on the full spectrum of human rights issues taught by SFC faculty and expert Human Rights Fellows
  • Participate in related study abroad and internship opportunities
  • Be mentored by expert Human Rights Fellows
  • Interact with speakers in the Human Rights Lecture Series
  • Participate in the SFC Amnesty International Chapter
  • Engage with students globally
  • Learn about careers in human rights-related fields

Integral to the Human Rights Program is also the Human Rights Lecture Series which features leading experts and activists from the corporate, non-governmental, non-profit, academic, or governmental sectors to share their perspectives on advancing human rights, broadly defined in all its aspects, with internal and external communities.

Spring 2023 Human Rights Courses

Islam, Democracy, and Human Rights
Professor Farid Hafez, SFC Teaching Fellow in Human Rights and Professor of International Studies at Williams College

HON 5402-01 ; 3 Credits, Honors Section, Tuesdays at 5:30-8:30 pm (Live instruction via Zoom except for in-person sessions on Jan. 24, Feb. 7, March 7, and April 25)
Qualifies as a General Education Course
No prerequisites
Qualifies as an elective course for the Human Rights Minor

The course aims to provide students with a general overview of the basic themes and issues in discussions about "Islam" and "democracy" with an emphasis on the discourse on human rights. This course will first give an introduction to the relationship of the political with the religious regarding Islam and will then discuss the discourse on democracy in Islamic milieus in the 20thand early 21stcenturies. We will then move on to discuss the relationship between the religion of Islam, Muslim societies, and international human rights norms in the last 50 years, reflecting upon political Islam, colonialism, and the nation-state.

Justice and Ecology in the Hebrew Bible
Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons, SFC Teaching Fellow in Human Rights and writer, activist, and Senior Minister of First Unitarian Universalist Congregational Society in Brooklyn

GLS 2101-01/REL 4004-01; 3 credits, Special Topics course in Global Studies as well as in Religious Studies; Meets in-person Tuesdays 3:00-5:00 pm
Qualifies as a General Education Course for Religious Studies (RS) requirement
No prerequisites
Qualifies as an elective course for the Human Rights Minor

This course will explore the stories, commandments, and traditions around social justice and ecological stewardship in the Hebrew Bible. We will read the primary texts (in English translation) as well as rabbinic commentaries and modern interpretations. Students will gain an understanding of the deep origins of our modern ethics of justice, human rights, and ecological healing.

For more information and to join the Human Rights Minor, please contact Dr. Reza Fakhari at [email protected], Dr. Tim Houlihan at [email protected], or Dr. Ken Mayers at [email protected] or stop by at SFC International in room 6212.

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