Human Rights

Dr Tom Kerns













Course Requirements



These are some of the things you will need to do if this course is to be a meaningful one for you:


Required readings for the course include:

Required writing for the course includes:

General expectations

  • Regular and substantial (5-7 days per week) participation in all online discussions
  • Completion of all online exercises and assignments
  • Reading the assigned original sources
  • Reading the online mini-lectures
  • Writing answers to book Study Questions and Discussion Questions and posting them to the online classroom
  • Prosecuting an individual research project and presenting it online to the class
  • Personal participation and engagement in the study of the environment and human rights
  • Coursework will probably require about twenty hours per week of your time, perhaps more

Approximate weekly schedule

  • Our weeks this quarter will begin on Thursday mornings and end on the following Wednesday evening at 8pm
  • Each week, as a rule, there will be the following four deadlines:
    1. The assigned readings must be completed early in the week
    2. The first posting of your responses to the Discussion Questions must be completed as early in the assignment period as possible
    3. Discussion of the book and the DQs (and sometimes of the SQs) must all be begun early in the assignment period so the discussions can get underway early and then be completed before the end of the assignment period
    4. Study Questions must be completed and posted into the classroom by the end of the assignment period

Methods and materials for evaluation

General grading policy

  • Grading, to put it simply, is based entirely on your work and achievement in the course. This includes items such as
    • Full participation in online discussions and case studies
    • Writing, posting answers to and then discussing assigned Discussion Questions
    • Completion of all online exercises and assignments
    • Writing and posting complete answers to book study questions
    • Quality of the individual research project that is posted to the class
    • Examinations (midterm and final)
    • Personal engagement and participation in the study
  • A large part of my assigning your grade relies on information you provide me in your self-evaluation for the course. See the Self Evaluations homepage for details.


  • We will have a mid-term exam and a final exam, each exam covering approximately half of the course. The exams will be primarily essay exams and will require that you understand and be conversant with both the factual and the conceptual material that we've covered
  • We may have two or three short quizzes on small sections of class material
  • Make-ups on exams or quizzes will not be allowed (except in special circumstances and only if you make formal arrangements with me before the exam or quiz is given)
  • (Here is a copy of the final final final exam that all students will be required to pass before being granted their degree...)



  • We will be using the FirstClass software package as our online classroom software. You will need to download a small piece of client software from our North Seattle Community College server in order to access our classroom. Once you are registered for the course you will receive instructions for downloading the FirstClass software.
  • Spring quarter begins on Monday April 6, 2009
    last date to register: April 6, 2009 (if seats are still available)

Nota Bene

  • Studies show that most students who fail (or do not complete) online courses do so because they do not form the habit early on of logging in to the classroom every day. If you miss more than a day or two you can get behind in the course and it then becomes very difficult to catch up.
  • The American philosopher William James has a beautiful and famous chapter "On Habit", and how the formation of useful habits can work for our benefit, in his book, The Principles of Psychology. He also has a nice essay on "The Laws of Habit" in a book titled Talks for Teachers. (These are not assigned readings, but you may well find them meaningful.)


I hope that, besides the work you do for a good evaluation in this course, your work will also pay off in making the course enjoyable (though perhaps difficult), and highly meaningful for you.