Spring 2019

Human Rights and National Security: Seeking Balance in the United States

Listed in: History, as HIST-260


Vanessa Walker (Section 01)


[US/TS] Is preserving collective security and individual rights inherently contradictory or can they be mutually reinforcing? Focusing on rights within the United States, this class will explore how the United States has sought to balance these competing concerns in the past, and the implications of this history for contemporary debates. We will examine the shifting meaning of "national security" and how it has changed at key moments in the nation’s history. We will also analyze how debates over national security and rights have reflected broader partisan divides, served diverse political objectives, and reflected competing visions of national identity and purpose. The shifting relationship between these two imperatives addresses the central purpose and dilemma of democratic governance: to advance the collective good while ensuring basic freedoms for all individuals.The course will initially survey these issues through a historical lens, demonstrating how questions of security and rights have been present since the nation’s founding. Contemporary case studies will make up the bulk of the remainder of the course: refugees and immigration; domestic counter-terrorism and due process; cybersecurity and surveillance; domestic terrorism and hate crimes; detention and interrogation. Three class meetings per week.

Limited to 60 students. Spring semester. Professor Walker.

If Overenrolled: Priority to HIST majors, by reverse seniority if necessary (i.e., first-years, sophomores, etc.)


Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020