landscape in Syria UC Davis

Mission of the Designated Emphasis

The DE in Human Rights provides graduate students in affiliated programs the opportunity to supplement their Ph.D. with a specialization in the academic study of Human Rights. The mission of the DE is to promote and build capacity in the academic study of Human Rights and the training of graduate students in the field of Human Rights in the Ph.D. programs throughout the campus.

Affiliated Ph.D. Programs

Students in the following Ph.D. programs are eligible to pursue a Designated Emphasis in Human Rights:

  • Anthropology
  • Cultural Studies
  • English
  • German
  • History
  • Native American Studies
  • Spanish
  • Sociology
  • ​Study of Religion
  • ​Performance Studies

Affiliated Faculty


Marisol de la Cadena -
Jeff Kahn -
Suzana Sawyer - 
Cristiana Giordano - 


Heghnar Z. Watenpaugh -


Desirée Martin -


Elisabeth Krimmer -

Chunjie Zhang -

Sven-Erik Rose -

Jaimey Fisher -


Corrine Decker -

Susan Miller-Emeritus -

Charles Walker -

Adam Zientek -

Stacy Fahrenthold -

Marian E. Schlotterbeck -


Keith David Watenpaugh -


Stefano Varese- Emeritus -

Jessica Perea -

Ines Hernandez-Avila -

Liza Grandia -

Zoila Mendoza -

Elisabeth Middleton -

Justin Spence -


W. Flagg Miller -


Diane Wolf -

David Kyle

Caitlin Patler -


Emilio Bejel -

Cristina Martinez-Carazo  -

Michael Lazzara

Course Requirements

All four course requirements must be completed prior to the Qualifying Exam:

  • HMR 200A. History, Theory and Criticism of Human Rights. (cross-listed with Study of Religion course REL 231E)
  • HMR 200B. Memory, Culture, and Human Rights. (cross-listed with Cultural Studies course CST 210)
  • One course or course of study in the student’s home graduate department or group, relevant to the study of Human Rights or in which the student may conduct significant research on a topic relevant to the study of Human Rights. This course or course of study shall be identified in advance and in consultation with the student’s Human Rights DE advisor.
  • One reading or independent study course (such as HMR 299) with a faculty member of the Human Rights Designated Emphasis Group


2021-2022 Graduate Courses

Winter 2022

HMR 200A/ REL 231E
Keith Watenpaugh
History-Theory-Criticism Human Rights
Wednesdays, 1:10-4:00

This seminar explores the human rights idea and the field of Human Rights Studies.  Participants will read and discuss influential and recent work in the field. The seminar will provide an opportunity for students to develop research projects from within their own disciplines and scholarly engagement activities, and create syllabi and lesson plans appropriate to their field(s).

Readings include:

Keck, Margaret E., and Kathryn Sikkink. Activists beyond borders: advocacy networks in international politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004.

Quataert, Jean H. Advocating dignity: human rights mobilizations in global politics. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.

Gündogdu, Ayten. Rightlessness in an age of rights: Hannah Arendt and the contemporary struggles of migrants. Oxford University Press, 2014.

Moses, A. Dirk. The problems of genocide: permanent security and the language of transgression. Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Atapattu, Sumudu. "Climate change and displacement: protecting ‘climate refugees’ within a framework of justice and human rights." Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 11, no. 1 (2020): 86-113.


HISTORY 201I (counts for Human Rights DE elective)
Professor Charles Walker,
Revolutions in World History
Tuesdays 3-6

This course takes a long-term approach to revolution, addressing the concept's development and many meanings.  The concept  (Latin revolutio, turn around) has circulated since at least Aristotle and the term appears in French in the 13th century and English in the 14th.

The course will jump across the centuries and the globe, and I will  encourage students to write a final paper on some aspect of revolutions: theory, practice, specific ones, women in Cuba, meanings in Late Capitalism, etc. I will be flexible about the topic.

We will build on the Shelby Cullom Davis Center's year-long focus on Revolutionary Change. (I will be in residence there in fall 2021).

Preliminary week-by-week topics.

Please purchase Popkin, DuBois, Marx and Engels, Rius, and Fitzpatrick

1. What are revolutions and the Age of Revolution?

            (Readings provided)

            recommended: Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station

2. Age of Revolutions: France

            Jeremy Popkin, A Short History of the French Revolution


3. Haitian Revolution

            Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution

4. Karl Marx,

            Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto and

            Rius, Marx for Beginners

5. Russia Revolution

            Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution (Oxford)

6. Mexican Revolution

            Series of articles, to be provided

7. Cuban Revolution (and a brief review of China)

      Sara Kozameh, "Black, Radical, and Campesino in Revolutionary Cuba"

            Series of articles, to be provided

8. New Social Revolutions and the New Left

            Series of articles, to be provided


9. Presentations and short readings on Gender and Revolution

            Series of articles, to be provided

10. Presentations and short readings on Revolutions, Human Rights, and the Global South

            Series of articles, to be provided




Dissertation & Examination Requirements

The dissertation research topic must employ in whole or in part the academic study of Human Rights.  The Qualifying Exam Committee must include a faculty member of the DE in Human Rights and the exam must include a question relevant to the DE.  A faculty member of the DE must also sit on the Dissertation Committee. Typically the same DE representative will be on both committees, but this is not a requirement.

Paperwork Requirements

For assistance obtaining signatures on your paperwork, please contact the DE Staff, housed in the Department of Languages & Literatures: Maria Ruby, 210 Sproul, The following forms are required for the DE: