2365.19 - Human Rights, Religion and Politics

Course number
Human Rights, Religion and Politics
Students must have passed the first two years of the BA program at the Department of Social Science and History or have corresponding qualifications.
The student will gain knowledge about concepts and theories on international human rights; to understand the interaction and tensions between human rights, religion, culture and politics; and to understand tensions between concepts such as secularization and religion, universalism and relativism, rights and duties, the individual and society. The purpose of the course is to examine the origins of international norms and how normative systems of ideas and religions have shaped national and international politics.
All human beings have certain inalienable rights which should be respected and defended regardless of political, cultural and religious circumstances. This noble ambition was the very purpose of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN in 1948. However, the vision of unifying the world around these values – and across different cultures and religions – has proven more than difficult. After 1948, many states and regional alliances have adopted their own versions of human rights according to their own cultural and religious particularities. The ongoing tensions between local particularities and global standards triggers certain key questions: What is a human right? What are the origins of values such as freedom of religion and freedom of expression? Is it possible to implement “universal” rights in a multicultural and multireligious world? Or are all rights relative vis-à-vis time, place and faith? This interdisciplinary course will combine normative political theory, philosophy, history and law. The course will examine how international norms emerge, how they travel across borders and how rivalling normative systems of belief shape national and international politics.
Learning and teaching approaches
The course will consist of lectures by main teacher and guest teachers. The course demands active participation from students.
Learning outcomes
When the course is over, students are required to: - Analyze basic concepts on human rights, religion and culture, secularization, universalism and relativism - Analyze the interaction and tensions between human rights and culture, tradition and religion Apply these concepts when analyzing concrete and contemporary human rights issues
Assessment method
Oral examination
Marking scale
Approximately 700 pages
Heini í Skorini