Spring 2012

Human Rights in Historical Perspective

Listed in: History, as HIST-354


Martha Saxton (Section 01)


[US] This course will explore the historical background of the Human Rights movement in a weekly seminar made up of 12 Amherst students and 12 incarcerated men  at the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction.  Students will look at the principles of the  eighteenth-century revolutions in North America, France and Haiti for divergent understandings of the rights of man as well as the British and American abolition movements as prototypes of human rights activism.  In the twentieth century, we will look at the legacies of both World Wars, the founding of the United Nations and the drafting of the Universal Declaration. In the latter part of the semester, we will look at the development of NGOs and sample an array of human rights activism, including work on the rights of the incarcerated.   In addition to introducing students to the background and practices of a significant social and political movement, this course will provide the opportunity for productive conversations between  college students and incarcerated men, each with unique perspectives on the value and meaning of human rights. In addition to weekly reflection papers on readings and class discussions, students will write a research paper on a particular human rights initiative, dilemma, or accomplishment.   One class meeting per week.

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 12 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Saxton.

If Overenrolled: There will be an application and an interview; beyond that , preference will generally be given to juniors and seniors.


Community Based Learning


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012