The recent elections in the United States, the BREXIT vote, and the rightward movement in many European nation states all may be taken as indexes to the ways race plays a central role in politics. Race and ethnicity show up in policies over immigration, refugees, citizenship, policing, incarceration, and other topics and issues. This all puts tremendous pressure on human rights discourse.

The foundational document of modern human rights is the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted at a time when the newly-established United Nations recognized the need for rights for a new post-war, and increasingly post-colonial world. Our course studied the basis of human rights historically and philosophically with particular attention to the relation between human rights and anti-racist work. What are the possibilities and challenges?

This course was an international collaboration with classes at the University of Wuerzberg, Germany, and the University of California at Merced. Using the Stanford-based TeachingHumanRights.org website, we created a three-campus project that put students and instructors together as an international community of scholar-activists.

In addition to our readings which we discussed in the Stanford-based online classroom Canvas, students worked on one three-week research project. These projects took place as joint, collaborative projects in small groups that will consisted of students from all three universities.

These joint research projects will attempted to straddle geography and race to find new ways to interrogate the most pressing concerns of our time, seeing that 21st-century race relations, immigration debates, right-wing movements, and Global North/South conflicts seem to be unparalleled so far.