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Spring 2021 Seminar

Pandemic Inequalities: Human Rights and Global Health

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

The staggering toll of COVID-19 has laid bare and exacerbated structural injustices within and between countries, which call for profound reflection on the societies and world we had inhabited pre-pandemic– as well as the role of human rights praxis in creating transformative change. In this context, how should we understand the suffering we and/or others are experiencing, and the dramatically disparate health and social impacts of this novel coronavirus on diverse groups across our societies and the globe? Further, how can we catalyze transformative legal, political and programmatic responses?

This seminar provides historical context for understanding the profound inequalities that COVID-19 has revealed in the United States, and around the world, and critically examines the role of international human rights law and strategies in creating progressive social change. Looking forward, the seminar explores how human rights, together with other movements, can be deployed now and beyond the pandemic, to address other global threats such as climate crisis, as well as broader political economy questions. Guest speakers, emphasis on personal narratives, readings from multiple disciplinary perspectives, and class debates regarding legal and policy issues sharply revealed by the pandemic are all intended to encourage critical reflection on prevalent national and global discourses in relation to when misfortune becomes injustice, in health and beyond.