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Course Information

Instructor Info:Kelly Bitov
TA Info:Will Shattuc
Sarah Brewer
Term: 2013F
Meeting Info: Monday Wednesday
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 103
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 103

This course will explore the concept of environmental human rights, focusing on indigenous rights, the environmental justice movement in the United States and abroad, and global linkages to environmental human rights law. Course materials focus on the similarities and differences between legislative, administrative, judicial and international organization responses to toxic and hazardous environmental conditions. We will ask questions such as: who has power, and how do those in power interface with communities most affected by environmental injustices? We will discuss legal concepts of "property", "fundamental human rights" and "justice". Readings will consist of first person accounts, seminal legal cases, primary source documents for international organizations and treaties, news articles, law review articles, academic journal articles and academic analyses. Writing assignments include two short response papers, a 12-15 page final paper and a group-authored summary report. 

Course Objectives:

Learn a lot; have fun; develop your understanding of complex environmental human rights issues; gain a basic understanding of the many diverse legal systems that affect environmental human rights and in which activists must "swim"; better understand global connections between environmental human rights issues and struggles.

Evaluation Criteria:

Student evaluations will be based on the response papers, term paper, performance in the negotiation (by “performance”, I mean engagement with the exercise and group work, not whether or not you “win” or “lose”), negotiation write-up and class participation.

Additional Info:

Most of the readings will be available online through this course website. There are two required books for the course, which will be available at the Hampshire College Bookstore:

Winona Laduke. All Our Relations, Native Struggles for Land and Life. Cambridge & Minneapolis: South End Press, 1999.

The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution, ed. Robert. D. Bullard. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 2005.

There are two response papers due September 18 and September 30 (3 pages maximum, each).

Each student will write a final research paper on an environmental human rights issue of their choosing. The final paper will be completed in four stages:

  1. A written topic proposal, due Thursday, October 3 (1 page)
  2. A written outline, due Tuesday, October 15
  3. A first draft, due Monday, October 28 (turn in two copies, one to Prof. Bitov, one to trade with a classmate)
  4. A final draft, due Monday, November 25 (12-15 pages)

A write-up of the negotiation exercise submitted by each group is due the last day of classes, December 11.

If you know now that you have a conflict with one of those dates, let's create an adjusted schedule at the beginning of the semester.