Education & Academics

The Global Institute for Health and Human Rights employs a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach towards education. First and foremost it seeks to reconcile different academic perspectives with one another. This approach, coupled with our position at UAlbany, provides a unique vantage point from which to engage the intersection of health and human rights from a variety of angles, integrating fields of study ranging from philosophy to urban planning to law and public health. With this educational approach the GIHHR welcomes students, researchers and scholars from any field who are interested in interdisciplinary education and investigation relating to health and human rights.


Programs include:

  • Working with students at the undergraduate and graduate levels to understand the links between health and human rights
  • Sharing local and international best practice standards regarding family planning, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, and more to improve the international treatment of vulnerable populations
  • Organizing academic courses, lectures, workshops and seminars to be made available to as wide an audience as possible
  • Developing long-distance trainings and workshops on health and human rights for the benefit of international collaborators
  • Promoting the exchange of information on health and human rights
  • Providing internships for students at international organizations working with the Institute on health and human rights issues
  • Helping to build the capacity of universities in developing countries through program collaboration (e.g., schools of Social Welfare and Public Health joint programs)


Selected Activities:


Related Course for Undergraduate/Honors College Students:

Department: Political Science/Health Policy, Management & Behavior

College/School: Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy/School of Public Health

Instructors: Kamiar Alaei and Arash Alaei

Course: Health and Human Rights: an Interdisciplinary Approach (3 credits) (TSPH272/TPOS272)

Description: This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to health and human rights and the contemporary challenges and solutions associated with them. The course will be taught by physicians and human rights champions Kamiar Alaei and Arash Alaei, with guest lectures from experts in public health, philosophy, social welfare, law, gender studies, public administration, and the United Nations, among others. Through lectures, discussion, and case studies, students will develop a broad theoretical understanding of health as a human right, become familiar with legal and policy frameworks to support public health, and acquire skills in the application of these concepts and the implementation and evaluation of solutions to our modern health challenges. Only one version of T SPH 272 may be taken for credit. Open to Honors College students only.

General Education: Social Sciences, Challenges for the 21st Century


The following is a list of undergraduate/graduate courses designated to provide interdisciplinary conceptual frameworks in the field of health and human rights.


Course Descriptions
Core courses:

HHPM 486/586 and RPOS 486/586: Health and Human Rights: an Interdisciplinary Approach (3 credits)

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to health and human rights and the contemporary challenges and solutions associated with them. The course will be taught by physicians and human rights champions Kamiar Alaei and Arash Alaei, with guest lectures from experts in public health, philosophy, social welfare, law, gender studies, public administration and the United Nations, among others. Through lectures, discussion and case studies, students will develop a broad theoretical understanding of health as a human right, become familiar with legal and policy frameworks to support public health, and acquire skills in the application of these concepts and the implementation and evaluation of solutions to our modern health challenges. Each student applies an understanding of health as a human right to the implementation of public health policies and to the evaluation of solutions to modern health challenges.


HPM 645: Global Health (3 credits) – School of Public Health Course

This survey course explores major international public health issues as well as measures that can be taken to improve health outcomes in specific population groups. Specific issues addressed include infectious disease, reproductive health, nutrition, chronic disease, mental health, unintentional injuries, violence, and the relationship of health and economic development. International aid programs and projects to improve health are also considered. Each student selects a national public health system for an in-depth study, identifying the major population-based health issues and proposing interventions for improving health outcomes. This course is also offered online.


RPOS 568: Foundations of Human Rights (4 Credits) – Rockefeller College

This course examines the legal, political, and social dimensions of the modern human rights movement and its implications for international affairs. It provides both an introduction to basic human rights philosophy, principles, instruments, and institutions, and an overview of several current issues and debates in the field. The course also seeks to analyze the ways in which allegations of human rights violations are dealt with and to expose some of the limitations in the architecture of the international system. Case studies will be used to illustrate contemporary debates regarding hierarchy among rights, conflicts between individual rights and societal priorities, human rights in single-party states, rights and transitions to democracy, amnesty for human rights violations, and the linkage between human rights and other national interests. Each student analyzes the ways in which allegations of human rights abuses are addressed in the international system using legal, political or social perspectives.


Elective courses:

Albany Law School

International Human Rights Law

This seminar examines the origin, scope, and protection of international human rights both internationally and in domestic litigation. Students write a research paper on a topic of their choice. LL.M. for International Law Graduates


International Law of War and Crime

An understanding of the fundamental principles and doctrines of international law that govern the use of force and the responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among the topics covered are the limitations on the use of force and the resort to force, both nation-state and collective action, the treatment of combatants and civilians, and the recognition and prosecution of international criminal law including war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as international cooperation, institutions and criminal liability.


International Childs Rights

This course will focuses on interpretation and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as the most-ratified treaty in the world. The CRC addresses a wide variety of themes including discrimination, armed conflicts, prison, family life and education, to list just a few examples. This course will approach the CRC as it is understood by lawyers, by activists, and by academics from all around the world. Participants will learn how to research and write in the area of international human rights, with a focus on child rights. The course is open to all without a related background as requirement. Grading will be evaluated on the basis of papers and class participation and there will be no final examination.


Immigration Law and Policy

Immigration Law and Policy provides an introduction to immigration and naturalization policies in the United States. The course also considers constitutional, statutory, and regulatory authorities confronting individuals and society. Also students learn to navigate the complex regulatory framework to resolve basic immigration problems.


Human Reproduction: Legal and Moral Issues

This course discusses the moral and legal issues concerning both ordinary and assisted reproduction. It also covers constitutional and common law doctrine on reproductive liberty, government regulation, and medical control over procreative choice, the reproductive autonomy of minors, the effects of advances in cell biology on reproductive issues, and the rights and responsibilities of gamete contributors.


Bioethics Seminar

This seminar explores bioethics issues such as clinical decision making, informed consent, organ donation and transplantation, physician assisted suicide, ethics in managed care, death and dying, and medical research.


Albany College of Pharmacy

ETH 510: Health Care and Human Values

This three-credit course in the final semester of didactic courses is designed to provide students with a capstone experience involving thought-provoking readings from literature and current publications. This course will provide students with the opportunity to progress further through Bloom’s taxonomy as they explore the various topics of this capstone course. Progressing from general concerns about one’s life (such as recognizing the importance of passion in a person’s life) to the increasingly specific concerns about serving as a valuable, moral member of a profession (such as realizing the importance of empathy for a patient dying of ovarian cancer), the themes covered in this course relate to the larger issues of our students’ profession. This course exposes the students to works that treat the topics of health care and human values, the responsibilities of the scientist, the use of drugs in our society, and alleviation of suffering; this course provides the students with the opportunity to explore these themes in written and discussion form. This course will count towards a joint program between colleges of Pharmacy and MBA program in Union Graduate College


SOC 420/520: HSP Health and Social Policy

This course examines US based health and social policy. We will explore how values are translated into law and public policy and how social change affects public policy. We will address contemporary issues in health and social policy as well as review the basic principles of how policy is made in the US and understand how policy evolved to where it is today in America. This course aims to help you develop critical thinking skills.

Some of the questions that this course will address include:

· What is public/social policy? How does policy happen in the US?

· What is the key development of social and specifically health policy in the US?

· What are the contemporary issues, problems and controversies in American health care and policy?

· What are and how do the social, economic, and political factors influence health and social policy in the US?

· What is the connection between US based health policy and the global world? This course will count towards a joint program between colleges of Pharmacy and MBA program in Union Graduate College


ETH 515: Health, Disease and Authority in Medicine

ETH 515 will focus specifically on the themes of health, illness and disease, medical technology & knowledge, and the role of power and authority in medicine. What is it like to make moral, informed, and well-considered medical decisions in light of modern (and future) medical knowledge? In this course, we will begin with a brief historical analysis of how the roles of patients and of clinicians have changed, reflecting the success of bioethical approaches from philosophy, religion, and other disciplines. We will ask, what it means to be a “good” patient and a “good” clinician. ETH 515 also strengthens, through rigorous practice, academic and professional reading, writing, and speaking skills. Contemporary patients and clinicians face the necessary but daunting task of trying to make use of both medical technologies and medial knowledge, which are growing rapidly and becoming ever more complex. In the second half of the course, our focus will shift to how health, disease, and illness are constructed, as well as underlying power dynamics in medical knowledge and decision-making.


Union Graduate College – Bioethics

BIE 525: Public Health Ethics

In this course, students learn about ethics and public health, and the ways in which these two fields interconnect. The course focuses on ethical theory and the discipline and history of public health, using case studies to illustrate the application of ethical theory to public health practice. Topics to be examined include risk and fairness in public health, control and spread of communicable diseases like HIV and tuberculosis, environmental health, and programs to addresses public health problems like smoking and obesity Master of Science in Bioethics


BIE 545: Reproductive Ethics

The course examines the philosophical, ethical, and legal problems arising from assisted reproductive technologies. It begins with an exploration of the notion of procreative liberty, conceived of as the right to make one’s own reproductive decisions, whether to have or to avoid having offspring. Other issues to be discussed include commodification and whether individuals should be able to sell their reproductive parts or functions; the ways in which assisted reproduction has affected our conceptions of parenthood and family; the nature and scope of procreative responsibility (the flip side of procreative autonomy); whether it is possible to harm people by bringing them into the world under disadvantageous conditions; and the ethics of prenatal genetic testing, particularly in light of the disability critique. This course is offered online as well. Master of Science in Bioethics


BIE 492: International Bioethics

This course provides students with the historical and theoretical foundations of bioethics. Topics will include: the history and development of key international institutions, pivotal policies, and theoretical frameworks informing international bioethics and research ethics, case studies of specific areas in international bioethics. By the end of this course, students should be able to: 1) describe the history and development of key international institutions; and 2) explain and employ the basic concepts, policies and theoretical frameworks of international bioethics to case studies. This course is offered online as well. Master of Science in Bioethics


University at Albany, SUNY

HPM 642: Health Care Law/Topics in the Law of Health Care Access, Quality and Cost

This course examines the legal setting of public health and the role of courts and legal reasoning in public health policy, as well as a wide range of current legal issues, from HIV and tuberculosis prevention to malpractice and provider liability. This course is offered online as well. Master of Public Health


HPM 620: Health Disparities and Vulnerable Populations

The goal of this course is to understand what contributes to health disparities in the United States. The course will discuss underlying assumptions of group definitions, why particular groups may experience disparities and individual versus ecological approaches to health in our current health system. This course will also cover theoretical frameworks for understanding and addressing health disparities in health promotion. The course is geared for students to critically think about and discuss health disparities and use the knowledge gained through the class in their work as public health professionals and researchers. Readings will be multidisciplinary; from the fields of public health, psychology, political science, disability studies, and gender studies. Master of Public Health


PLN 529: Planning for Jobs, Housing and Community Services in Third World Cities

This course considers past and current development paradigms and processes, with an emphasis on community participation, empowerment, and gender and development. We will discuss a variety of agents engaged in third world urban development, including international organizations, NGOs, national states, local governments, and communities. Practical planning and public policy tools will be presented to help address the endemic issues surrounding the availability and quality of jobs, housing & community services in third world cities. Master of Regional Planning Program (MRP) in Urban and Regional Planning

AAS 529: Environmental Justice: Racism, Classism and Sexism

Explore how, racism, classism and sexism effect current environmental "events", including environmental policy-making, public health outcomes, and the rhetoric and politics of environmentalism. Surveying the development of environmental awareness among the public, philosophies behind such awareness and resulting shifts in policy, we will focus on the growth of the environmental justice movement, and will consider how various groups have addressed environmental degradation and justice. Also, under consideration will be a set of related issues: how globalization has effected these events, the feminist critique of science and its impact, relationships between grass-roots activism (for example, native American activists and other Environmental Justice group) and between these groups and more scholarly approaches and contributions by artists, labor-rights groups, religious leaders, animal rights activists, and deep ecologists. Master of Africana Studies


ANT 518: Culture, Environment and Health

This class is an anthropological study of health and disease patterns in human populations with an emphasis on man-made influences on the health of contemporary Western societies. The assessment of health status through epidemiological and anthropological methods is explored. Master of Anthropology


ANT 670: Seminar in Ethnology – Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development

This course is designed to provide an overview of human rights and anthropology from theoretical and historical points of view and from the vantage point of engagement and practice. Using a critical approach, we will move away from the notion of a set category or monolithic legal structure toward an understanding of a flexible and elastic set of conceptual frameworks used to accomplish transitions, make claims and gain access to resources, in village meetings as well as international halls of power. In doing so, we will consider the increasing transnationalization of rights discourse and the growing terrain in which claims, legal and otherwise, are made through it. A series of international and national case studies will be examined. Master of Anthropology


HIS 603: Readings in the US History – Human Rights, the United States, and International History

This course explores the place of human rights ideals and principles in twentieth-century American history. It will be divided into three parts. In part one, we will read widely on the history of human rights in a global context. In part two, we will examine how human rights concerns influenced U.S. foreign policy in the last half of the twentieth century. In part three, we will look at human rights in relation to domestic politics and culture in the modern United States. In covering these areas, students will learn about important aspects of modern American history, including the Civil Rights movement, the New Deal, the Cold War, and the modern labor movement. Such topics will lead us to one other central concern: the ways in which United States history can profitably be placed in an international context. Master of Public History


RCRJ 720: Seminars on Specific Problems in Law and Social Control – Wrongful Convictions

This course is designed to offer an overview of wrongful convictions. We expect to examine the prevalence of wrongful convictions, how wrongful arrests and convictions occur (contributing factors), how the criminal justice system responds (through court decisions, legislation, and administrative initiatives), and how legal decisions affect the direction of scientific research and vice versa. This is an interdisciplinary course for students who are interested in criminal justice, psychology, and legal issues. Upon completion of the course, we anticipate that students will have acquired an understanding of relevant case law and research on wrongful convictions, and to have acquired specific knowledge about eyewitness accuracy, expert witness issues, false confessions, snitches, the roles of the police, prosecutors, defense counsel, and courts in helping cause, prevent, and correct wrongful convictions, forensic evidence issues, and the consequences of wrongful convictions, among other issues. Master of Criminal Justice


Health and Human Rights: an Interdisciplinary Approach (3 credits) (TSPH272/TPOS272)

Course syllabus for Global Health Diplomacy and Human Rights