#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
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.