Fall 2022



This seminar serves as an introduction to human rights and humanitarian advocacy, with a practical component. Half of the course focuses on the history and theory of human rights and humanitarian advocacy: what are the bases, overlaps, and differences between human rights and humanitarianism? What is it to make claims for human rights, or to denounce suffering or rights violation, especially on behalf of others? How and when and why have individuals and groups spoken out, mounted campaigns, published reports, and exposés? How do they address, challenge, and sometimes work with governments and international organizations like the United Nations, particularly through transnational advocacy networks? What allows some campaigns to succeed while others fail?

As we look at humanitarian and human rights advocacy from the campaign to abolish the slave trade to the advent of digital activism, this half of the course serves as an introduction to human rights work as a mode of legal, political, and cultural practice. The other half of the course involves hands-on work with the human rights organization Scholars at Risk (SAR) to support detained and disappeared Uyghur scholars in China. We will research events and individuals, communicate with families and lawyers, and other advocates, write country and case profiles, propose strategies and tactics for pressuring governments and other powerful actors, and develop appeals to public opinion -- all while recognizing the ethical and political risks this work may involve.


This course is not offered every semester. If your campus is offering the course, visit your institutions' course registration site to enroll.


Kerry Bystrom

Bard College Berlin

Jana Lozanoska

Al-Quds Bard College

Saniia Toktogazieva

American University of Central Asia

Ziad Abu-Rish

Bard College Berlin