TAS Seminars

Stan Katz

#5 Democracy and the rights of People

February 10 and 24, 2014

Stanley N. Katz, Ph.D.
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

 

The two sessions of the course will focus on (1) the concept of rights in the history of democratic thought and (2) the difficulties of formulating and implementing strategies to afford citizens effective access to the rights to which they are entitled. Where did the concept of human rights come from? Why did the concept flourish during the Age of the Enlightenment? Why were the rights of citizens defined so differently in Europe and North America? What are the trade-offs between the protection of individual rights and the promotion of the common good? Are "rights” the wrong way to think about the relation of the individual and the state? We will think about all of these problems, with the question of how rights work (or not) in the polity of the United States as our principal reference point. But we will think comparatively, and, in particular, we will ask why Americans define rights so much more narrowly (and negatively) than most other contemporary political societies.

 

Our readings will be based on David Armitage, THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE:  A GLOBAL HISTORY (Harvard, 2007) and Akira Iriye, Petra Goedde and William I. Hitchcock, eds., THE HUMAN RIGHTS REVOLUTION:  AN INTERNATIONAL HISTORY (Oxford, 2012). 


Stan Katz, Ph. D. teaches courses on democracy, civil society and nonprofit organizations at the Woodrow Wilson School. He studies the United States and human rights and higher education policy, and he writes regularly for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Katz works on projects in Cuba and in the Persian Gulf. He directs the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at WWS and is the president emeritus of the American Council of Learned Societies. Katz received the National Humanities Medal of Honor from President Obama in 2011.

 

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