April 6, 2021
What We Are Learning This Week with Sessional Instructor Mark Machacek
April 6, 2021 in POLI 481 The Politics of Human Rights
Sessional Instructor Mark Machacek is exploring the internationally recognized rights of refugees and how countries and international organizations have been responding to the rising number of forcibly displaced populations.
Can you tell us a little more about this topic?
Currently, the worldwide number of people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes is higher than at any point since World War II. With prolonged conflicts and political crises in countries such as Syria, Venezuela, and Myanmar, more people are crossing national borders seeking safety and asylum. At the same time, many countries have been less willing to accept refugees and asylum seekers due to political, economic, and security concerns. This week, POLI 481 is examining the causes of forced displacement, country responses to refugees, the role of the UN Refugee Agency, and the rights afforded to refugees under international law.
What else do you cover in your course?
POLI 481 covers a range of topics related to the politics of human rights. We began the semester discussing human rights as a moral framework that exists alongside contending notions of social justice, moral relativism, and realpolitik. We then detailed the international human rights regime in terms of the main countries, organizations, and international laws advancing and protecting human rights internationally. The remainder of the semester is spent focusing on the politics of specific human rights issues, including Indigenous rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity rights, and humanitarian intervention.
What do you love about teaching this course?
The thing I love most about this course is the level of passion students bring to the (virtual) classroom and their coursework. I find students tend to put their best foot forward academically when they are driven by something they are very passionate about. The topics that we cover in the course also make for very active and lively class discussions.
Finally, what other courses would you recommend for students interested in this topic?
Students interested in human rights can get an in-depth look at the issue of genocide with Dr. Hiebert’s POLI 470 Genocide. Any of the International Indigenous Studies (INDG) courses provide important insight into human rights and Indigenous rights issues in Canada. Interested students would also benefit from focusing on the institutions, processes, and politics of POLI 483 International Law.
Our Thanks to Sessional Instructor Mark Machacek for sharing your course with us.