Promoting Democracy and Human Rights in the 21st Century


Units: 6


This course explores how advancing democracy and human rights around the world has evolved in the 21st century with a particular focus on the impact of technology.  In readings, writing assignments, class discussion, and engaging experts, we will consider the positive and the negative consequences of innovation and technology on advancing democracy and human rights around the world.  

The modern human rights movement and the democracy promotion industry predate the internet and the rise of cyber by decades.  Technology has been dramatically disruptive in the work to advance human rights and democracy.  The course will explore the impacts from a thematic as well as country-specific perspective.  It begins from the premise that technology is a neutral with the power to increase societal conflict, including the disruption of democratic institutions, as well as to mitigate violence and conflict, for example, by helping to combat human trafficking or prevent mass atrocities.

Learning Outcomes:

Goals/takeaways of the course:
- Educate students on the history of promoting democracy and human rights in the 20th and 21st centuries as a public policy issue and as part of being a global citizen;
- Develop critical thinking concerning the role that technology has played in advancing or impeding progress on democracy and human rights around the world and in the United States but also awareness of the role that various political forces play;
- Encourage creative approaches that are crisply articulated applying technology and data to address or solve urgent societal issues relating to democracy and human rights.