About the OSC

The Oak Student Committee (OSC) allows Colby undergraduates to become integrally involved in the Institute and its programming.  The committee is the primary link between the Fellow and the student body, organizing formal meetings and more casual encounters over meals or through field trips. Even when the Fellow is not present on campus, OSC members help plan and execute Oak events. Through participation on this committee, students gain a better understanding of human rights issues and learn key skills involved in human rights advocacy.

Students with Bassam Khabieh, 2018 Oak Humans Rights Fellow

Students with Bassam Khabieh, 2018 Oak Humans Rights Fellow.

2019-2020 Oak Student Committee

Cam Garfield (Co-chair)

Isabel Adler (Co-chair)

Alexandra Bessler

Rosie Kilcoyne

Caitlin Bracken

Sonia Griffen

Chloe Shader

Sol Treister

Aleesha Siddiqui

Adora Lei

Erica Lee

Sarah Snyder

Adrian Visscher

Josie Smith

Izzy Tonneson

Keerthi Martyn

Emilie Pilchowski

Cece Bowe

Aiden Sites


Internships

The Oak Institute for Human Rights offers summer internship funding to allow students to pursue internships at institutions that work on issues of human rights, broadly defined. Internship funding (up to $5,000) is available to continuing full-time Colby students over the summer. To apply, please submit an application through DavisConnects.

Learn more about Colby’s Grants and Sponsored Programs

Applications for Summer 2021 will be live on this DavisConnects webpage on March 11, 2021. Students will submit a general application (please visit DavisConnects funding page to prep all essay questions an application materials) in addition to the following questions by March 25, 2021, at 11:59 PM EST.

  1. How does your experience tie into the mission of the human rights mission of the Oak Institute?
  2. Please send a request to a current or former employer willing to give you a reference. They will be asked to fill out a brief questionnaire. Please give them prior notice of your specific plans and explain that references are due by May 12, 2021. The committee will make a decision by April 9 but funding will be conditional on a positive reference by May 12.
  3. Please upload a copy of your unofficial transcript.
  4. Are you applying for funding from any source other than the Oak Institute? If so, indicate the source and how much are you requesting.

When they return to campus, recipients of Oak Internships will be expected to submit a 500-1000 word report on their internship work that will be posted on our website.

Maan Qraitem ’20 speaking at an Oak Institute lecture by Alia Malek

Maan Qraitem ’20 speaking at an Oak Institute lecture by Alia Malek.

Important Considerations

Student Eligibility – Summer awards are open to first-years, sophomores and juniors. While students who have previously been awarded funds may reapply, preference will be given to new applications.

Internship Eligibility – An internship is a carefully monitored work experience in which a student has intentional learning goals and reflects on what she/he is learning through the experience. Preference is given to unpaid internships at institutions involved in promoting and protecting human rights, broadly defined. Summer awards can be adjusted for the length of the internship, and usually require a minimum of 20 hours/week for 8 weeks.

Funding is not meant to serve as compensation for an internship. Rather, it is designed to cover supplemental costs that come along with an unpaid internship – i.e., transportation, lodging, meals, etc.

Applicants do NOT need to have a confirmed internship to apply. Based on application deadlines, students are often still waiting to hear back regarding their plans for January or the summer. Funding applications can be submitted without a secured internship, but should be completed with information for one specific opportunity – the one that is most likely to take place. The committee will make a decision based on the initial application. If you are awarded funding, it will be provisional on receipt of a letter from the organization confirming the internship. If you plans or circumstances change, you will need to resubmit your proposal with the updated information.

If you are applying for funding from other Colby or non-Colby sources, you have an obligation to let us know and provide details.

If you are planning to do an internship outside the US, please note that Colby will not sponsor your efforts if the experience is located in a country for which the US government has issued a travel warning or recognizes as a dangerous place. Please visit the US State Department’s website here for a list of these countries.

Please do not tie your plans to winning this very competitive award. You need to make alternative plans in case you are not selected. The Oak Institute has limited funds to support somewhere between 3 and 5 internships each year and does not have additional funds.

Oak Institute class discussion with visiting lecturer Amal Kassir and 2018 Oak Fellow Bassam Khabieh

Oak Institute class discussion with visiting lecturer Amal Kassir and 2018 Oak Fellow Bassam Khabieh.


Human Rights Related Study Abroad Programs

Adventure Teaching
Antioch Education Abroad Programs
The Center for Ecological Living and Learning (CELL) Study Abroad
Danish Institute for Study Abroad
International Honors Program (IHP)/Comparative Program – Human Rights: Foundations, Challenges, and Advocacy
International Human Rights Exchange
International Partnership for Service Learning (IPSL)
Institute for Peace & Dialogue Summer Academy – International Summer Academy
Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) Social Environmental Change, San José, Costa Rica
Peace and Conflict Studies Program: Summer Semester at the American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina
School for International Training (SIT) Study Abroad
University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) in Florianópolis, Brazil
Social Work & International Affairs: Human Rights with Florida State University
Where There Be Dragons Programs


Courses

Each fall, the current Oak fellow teaches a one credit, non-graded seminar class on human rights. In the seminar, the Oak fellow teaches not only basic human rights concepts but also shares personal background to give students a prominent example of human rights advocacy.


Borders and Human Rights Seminar: GS 111

An examination of the intersection of borders and human rights. Co-instructed by 2020 Oak Fellow. We will explore many aspects of human rights in relation to borders, including immigration, refugees, militarization, colonialism, imperialism, indigenous rights, and free movement. Students will also consider the different ways to address borders and human rights issues through an exploration of policy, advocacy, and technology. May be taken for credit a total of three times. Nongraded.


2020-2021 Courses with a Human Rights and Borders Component

 

AM245  Land, Sovereignty, and Art   

Four credit hours.  U.  Hickey

Examines how Indigenous artists and activists respond visually to issues related to land, power, and social justice. We look at a broad range of media used by Indigenous peoples, including documentary filmmaking, printmaking, photography, and performance. While we focus on case studies in North America, the issues explored are relevant across the globe. We discuss Indigenous epistemologies related to land and mapping, and the ways in which these knowledge systems are mobilized in resistance to settler colonialism. Students leave equipped with theories and methods used to challenge the legacies of colonial research and representation. They complete several creative assignments and write a final essay. Counts as an elective toward the ES major and minor. Previously offered as American Studies 298B (Spring 2020).

 

AY236  Illegal Drugs, Law, and the State   

Four credit hours.  Tate

Drawing on legal and political anthropology, we will examine the legal regimes and cultures of control that target the commerce and consumption of illegal drugs. We will consider the evolution of these policies, their role in the construction of the state, and their impact in a variety of historical moments and social worlds. Case studies will include Prohibition, cocaine, medical and recreational use of marijuana, and alternative forms of political power facilitated by the drug trade, with a special focus on Latin America. Students will gain critical reading and presentation skills and will refine their writing and research skills through the production of an original case-study research project. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112.

 

AY253  Cultural Perspectives on Global Economies   

Four credit hours.  Halvorson

Explores the global cultural diversity and social embeddedness of economic practice. Students gain analytical tools to critically examine global capitalism, consumption/consumerism, markets and their myriad social dimensions through a focus on transactions, exchange, social obligation, class distinction, and labor activities. In-depth case studies apply these insights to debates on topics such as debt, economic inequality, class, and the limits of commodification. Readings, films, and other materials highlight the rich diversity of anthropological perspectives on economic practice, from ethnographies of Wall Street to Malaysian factory work to middle-class formation in Nepal. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112.

 

AY256  Land, Food, Culture, and Power   

Four credit hours.  Mills

An examination of cultural and political aspects of land and other resource use, using the lens of political ecology and, a variety of ethnographic examples in different parts of the world. Case studies focus on ongoing conflicts over contested resources and related efforts to challenge experiences of environmental and food injustices. Students will apply conceptual tools from political ecology and environmental anthropology to develop a research project on a relevant topic of their choosing. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112.

 

AY341  Culture, Mobility, Identity: Encounters in the African Diaspora   

Four credit hours.  S, I.  Bhimull

Use of text, film, food, and music to examine how African and African-descended people made and remade the modern world. Surveys how past and present cultural practices dialogically shaped the formation, transformation, and flows of the diaspora. Attention to the dynamics of circulation, contact, exchange, and estrangement facilitates travels through the Afro-Atlantic world. Inquiry into archives and other sites of memory enables consideration of the scale, scope, and impact of black action and imagination. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112 or American Studies 276.

 

EN493L  Seminar: Women Writers in Britain and the Empire   

Four credit hours.  L.  Gibson

Focusing on women writers in the long nineteenth century, this seminar address multiple borders and margins: the porous borders between Britain and the empire, the borders created by internal colonialism within Britain, the shifting definitions and power of the provincial and the metropolitan. Case studies ranging from the ex-slave Mary Prince to the South Asian poet Toru Dutt, from the ‘provincial’ Currer Bell (Charlotte Bronte) to Michael Field (Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper). How were women writers marginalized–and how did they overcome this marginalization? How did they cross geographical borders, genres, and gendered boundaries? Fulfills English C and P requirements. Boundaries and Margins humanities lab.

 

FR375  Narratives of Identities in Francophone African Literature   

Four credit hours.  Niang

The quest for and celebration of identity are key thematic and aesthetic components in contemporary Francophone African literature and cinema. We will engage with works of fiction and film that provide a narrative of identity within the framework of African cultures such as sub-Saharan Africa or the Maghreb. Focus will be on communal and individual identities within the framework of ethnicity and/or tribalism. Students will learn how and why these writers and filmmakers narrate identity, and will engage with African identities through structured writing, oral presentations, captivating readings of texts, and film screening. Prerequisite: A 200-level course in French.

 

FR493B  Seminar: Writing of Place: Migration, Nationalism, and Memory   

Four credit hours.  Niang

The quest for and celebration of identity are key thematic and aesthetic components in contemporary Francophone-African literature and cinema. We will engage with works of fiction and film that provide a narrative of identity within the framework of African cultures such as sub-Saharan Africa or the Maghreb. Focus will be on communal and individual identities within the framework of ethnicity and/or tribalism. Students will learn how and why these writers and filmmakers narrate identity and will engage with African identities through structured writing, oral presentations, captivating readings of texts, and film screening. Prerequisite: Senior standing as a French studies major.

 

GO223  America and the World   

Four credit hours.  H.  Babik

How have Americans comprehended the world beyond their borders and their role in it? Can we detect any recurring ideas and presuppositions? If so, what are their origins, recent U.S. foreign policy manifestations, and implications? This course looks for answers in a broad historical perspective spanning America’s colonial beginnings and today. It identifies several traditional “master” tropes, traces their genealogy in American societal culture, and reveals their presence in U.S. statecraft at key junctures such as the two World Wars, the Cold War, the fall of communism in Europe, and the “War on Terror.” Most importantly, it discusses their consequences and critically reflects on their suitability to guide future American foreign relations.

 

GO252  Introduction to Politics of the Middle East   

Four credit hours.  S.  Denoeux

Provides the analytical and historical background for making sense of politics in the Arab world today. Highlights the main drivers of politics in the region, with particular emphasis paid to the intersection of political and economic forces, domestic and regional or international factors, and Islam and politics. Explores the roots of authoritarianism in the region, the dynamics that sustain it, and key impediments to substantive (as opposed to cosmetic) democratization. Examines the combination of forces that produced both the Arab Spring of 2011 and the turmoil that followed it. Open to first-years. Fulfills the introductory comparative politics requirement.

 

GO253  Introduction to Latin American Politics   

Four credit hours.  Mayka

An overview of important political and economic phenomena in Latin America over the past century. How can Latin America escape its persistent problems with underdevelopment, poverty, and inequality, and what is the role of a democratic government in tackling these problems? Topics covered include state-directed development models, populism, democratic breakdown and democratization, free market economic models, and contemporary leftist alternatives. Open to first-years. Fulfills the introductory comparative politics requirement.

 

GO255  Introduction to African Politics   

Four credit hours.  S, I.  Seay

An overview of political processes and institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. The development of institutions and norms of political behavior across the continent will be traced from precolonial times to the present, with particular focus on the development of modern states, challenges to the legitimacy of governing authorities, and factors affecting state stability. Students will learn to identify, define, and apply theoretical concepts to the empirical study of African politics. Open to first-years. Fulfills the introductory comparative politics requirement.

 

GO259  Introduction to European Politics   

Four credit hours.  S.  Yoder

Examines the post-1945 development of European political cultures and systems with special attention to varieties of parliamentarism, electoral systems, party systems, interest group representation, and welfare states. Explores how European societies view the role of the state in the economy, why many of them ceded some policymaking to the European Union, and how Europeans strike the balance between the exclusion and inclusion of different groups, between representative and participatory democracy, and between national and European interests. Open to first-years. Fulfills the introductory comparative politics requirement.

 

GO432  Seminar: U.S. Foreign Policy   

Four credit hours.  Rodman

Examines debates surrounding U.S. foreign policy and multilateral institutions with a principal focus on national security issues in the post-Cold War world. Central questions focus on when the United States should define its security in terms of acting within or strengthening international laws and institutions or whether it should maintain its freedom to engage in unilateral actions in a dangerous world. Areas of application include the use of force, counterterrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, and arms control. Prerequisite: Government 131 and senior standing.

 

GO451  Seminar: Political Violence   

Four credit hours.  Denoeux

Explores a variety of theoretical perspectives on, and case studies of, political violence, with particular emphasis on terrorism (both secular and religious) and ethnic conflict. Examines drivers of radicalization and violent extremism, the factors that lead to the rise, decline, and/or demise of terrorist organizations, and the nexus between transnational organized crime and international terrorism. Introduces key concepts and analytical frameworks and provides students with an opportunity to apply them to a case study of their choice. Students present the preliminary results of their research projects to the class. Prerequisite: Senior standing as a government major.

 

GS227  Visual Ways of Knowing: Transcultural Documentary Filmmaking   

Four credit hours.  Razsa

Teaches audio and video recording methods, research practice, documentary filmmaking ethics, and video editing. Special emphasis is placed on learning to understand, collaborate, and tell documentary stories across a variety of socioeconomic and cultural differences. Students will produce audio, video, and text contributions to an online interactive documentary that tells Central Maine stories of work, broadly construed. Requires significant travel and student initiative including full attendance at the Camden International Film Festival. Humanities lab course. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112.

 

GS352  Global Activism: From Socialist Internationalism to Today   

Four credit hours.  S.  Razsa

Is revolutionary change possible today? Explores the promises and failures of radical movements from the First International in 1864 to the “global uprisings” of recent years. Considers the historical genealogy of today’s transnational movements and their complex relationships to the modern nation-state. To what extent do labor, anarchist, anticolonial, indigenous struggles, as well as the World Social Forum, Arab Spring, and Black Lives Matter, offer ways to understand the world today and to imagine alternative political futures? Strong emphasis on discussion and collaborative debate. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112.

 

GS297  The Syrian Conflict   

Four credit hours.  Simon

Syria erupted in revolution in 2011 following revolutionary upheavals in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. While Tunisia has developed a democratic politics, Egypt remains under authoritarian rule and Libya is contested by two rival claimants to successor status and is plagued by violence. Only Syria, however, descended into a full blown civil war that, as of Spring 2020, included US, Russian, Turkish, Kurdish, Iranian proxy forces and foreign fighters strewn across the country.In this course, we will examine the prehistory of the revolution, use a variety of disciplines to explain its outbreak and transformation into civil war, and the reciprocal impact of the war on Syria, its allies and adversaries.

 

GS397  Zionism and its Opponents   

Four credit hours.  Simon

This is a survey of Zionism, a term first coined in the nineteenth century to describe the political movement to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The various forms of Zionism share the idea that Jewish nationhood is central to Jewish existence and that after 1948 the State of Israel represents the central expression of Jewish national existence. Traces the development of the various forms of Zionism in their historical context by focusing primarily on key political and intellectual leaders. This course is also a survey of the contestation over Zionism. It will, therefore, include discussion of early Arab responses to Zionism, as well as how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has altered Zionism. Prerequisite: At least one course in Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, European or Middle Eastern history.

 

GS251  Global Displacement: Understanding Refugees and Refugee Policy   

Four credit hours.  S, I.  El-Shaarawi

When people are forced to flee their homes because of persecution, what happens to them? What should happen? In our transnational world, cross-border conflict and displacement challenge our ideas about governance, identity, and justice. This course provides a framework to understand displacement in global perspective. We will trace the evolution of international refugee law and policy dealing with this growing population and consider the implications of displacement for individuals, communities, and states. Through case studies, we will also grapple with the social, cultural, political, and ethical challenges posed by refugee aid. Boundaries and Margins humanities theme course. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112.

 

GS255  Global Health: Critical Perspectives on Health, Care, and Policy  

Four credit hours.  S, W2.  El-Shaarawi

This writing-intensive course introduces students to central global issues of disease and disability and the interventions that aim to address them. We will discuss the central actors, institutions, and practices that make up the global health landscape. Using an interdisciplinary perspective, we will analyze the value systems and modes of knowledge production that underlie global health research, policy, and practice. Students will engage critically and creatively with topics such as the global burden of disease; the social determinants of health; health, development and human rights; post-disaster health; and global health policy and practice. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112.

 

HI120E  Spotlight on History: World Revolutions   

Four credit hours.  H, W1.  Parker

World revolutions in the 20th century transmitted the energy of ideological fervor, violent iconoclasm and radical justice beyond the bounds of Europe. The great socialist revolutions in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America can be viewed as the diffusion through ideological and artistic forms of a utopian tradition that sought to change the world by reinterpreting it. Revolutionary activism was made accessible to the masses as visual art, political pamphlet, literary narrative, film and slogan. This process-oriented, archive and object-centered course foregrounds research with these primary sources, enabling student engagement with methodological questions of how we understand, historicize, and curate revolution as a global phenomenon. Global lab.

 

HI141  Genocide and Globalization: 20th-Century World History   

Four credit hours.  H, I.  van der Meer

The terms genocide and globalization aptly describe the long 20th century in world history, which begins in the 19th century with the “opening” of China and Japan, German unification, and the onset of imperialism. By focusing on the roots and the context, the history of the 20th century as well as present tensions in the Middle East, Ukraine, South China Sea, etc. are easier to understand. The focus will shift from national (Germany, United States, China) to regional (Europe, Africa, Americas, Asia) to global perspectives. Introduces the major relevant ideologies and systems, such as nationalism, National-Socialism, fascism, communism, capitalism, social democracy, imperialism, decolonization, total war, genocide, and globalization.

 

HI341  U.S. Empire   

Four credit hours.  H, U.  Jacobson

Thomas Jefferson famously described the U.S. as an “Empire of Liberty,” to distinguish the U.S. from negative examples of imperial power. Yet, scholars have shown how the U.S. was and is an empire — and not just Jefferson’s exceptionalist version. This course will interrogate and explore the U.S. as an empire, in both its continental expansions in the nineteenth century and its global expansions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We will explore interpretations of the U.S. as empire through multiple case studies, including what is now the U.S. West, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Hawaii. Special attention will be paid to the central role of culture, religious and humanitarian impulses, the environment and public health, and traditional political concerns. Previously offered as History 398C (Spring 2020).

 

HI356  Cultures and Identities of the British Empire   

Four credit hours.  H, I.  Duff

Asks students to examine the construction, maintenance, and blurring of the boundaries of culture and identity within the British Empire over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Explores how empire not only produced new, allegedly stable ethnic and racial identities, but also how these were constantly undermined and challenged, and were subject to change over both time and space. The course will do this by reading and discussing a series of novels written over the course of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries–both during empire, in other words, and in its wake. Boundaries and Margins humanities theme course.

 

LA173  History of Latin America, 1491 to 1900   

Four credit hours.  H, I.  Fallaw

To understand the historical roots of Latin America’s enduring tensions and conflicts, students analyze and discuss sources (especially primary ones), and write short historical essays. Themes include the first American civilizations, the Conquest and construction of colonial hierarchies, independence, liberalism and conservatism, neocolonialism and nationalism.

 

RE117  A Passage to India: India and the Western Imagination   

Four credit hours.  L.  Singh

Beginning with Walt Whitman’s romantic journey toward the “soul” of the universe, Western attitudes towards India and India’s encounter with Western culture will be studied. Literature and film include A Passage to India, The Razor’s Edge, The English Patient, Siddhartha, The Namesake, Gitanjali, My Son the Fanatic, Bend It Like Beckham, and Four Quartets. Historical, political, religious, and visual context of the texts will be provided. A close reading of the texts for their aesthetic value, their existential disclosures, and as narratives on colonialism, racism, and orientalism.

 

RE218  Global South Asia: Literature, Art, Environment   

Four credit hours.  Singh

 

SO252  Race, Ethnicity, and Society   

Four credit hours.  U.  Gilkes

An examination of the roles of race and ethnicity in organizing complex stratified societies, in structuring systems of durable inequalities, and in organizing and shaping communities and enclaves within stratified societies. Using multiple sociological perspectives on race, ethnicity, minority groups, prejudice, discrimination, and institutional racism, special attention is paid to the United States with reference to immigration, slavery, conquest, annexation, colonialism, internal migration, social conflict, social movements, labor, citizenship, transnational adaptation, law, and public policy. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112 or Sociology 131 or sophomore or higher standing.

 

SO297A  Sociology of Immigration   

Four credit hours.  S, I.  Kesler

Debates about immigration abound in recent years, as political and economic strife in origin countries drives significant population movements. International migrants move within a fundamentally unequal world, in which differential access to rights and resources arises from and reinforces categorical distinctions, such as those of citizenship, social class, gender, race and ethnicity, and religion. In this course, we will address major social scientific explanations for international migration as well as variation (across groups, countries, and historical periods) in patterns of incorporation of immigrants and their descendants.

 

SO355  African-American Women and Social Change   

Four credit hours.  U.  Gilkes

Sociological analysis and historical overview of African-American women and their families, work lives, and community (especially religious and political) experience. A focus on the contradictions between lived experience and cultural expectations surrounding gender and on the distinctive experiences of African-American women as a force for social change. Prerequisite: An introductory social science course or American Studies 276.

 

SO397A  Categories, Classification, and Social Boundaries   

Four credit hours.  Mayrl

Is gender a “binary” or a “spectrum”? Are sociology and economics really “scientific”? Are Hispanics a “race” or an “ethnicity”? Are some poor people more “deserving” of assistance than others? How we answer these questions matters for the organization of social space, the distribution of resources, and the legitimacy of social inequalities. This course explores the social and political dynamics of classification across a range of substantive arenas, with special emphasis on how collective struggles to define socially important categories contributes to the creation, maintenance, or dissolution of social boundaries. Boundaries and Margins humanities theme course.

 

SP346  Race, Rights, and Land in the Americas   

Four credit hours.  I.  Ramos Flores

Examines issues of race, rights, and land for subaltern subjects across the Americas. By focusing on Afro-diasporic peoples, students will better understand how systematic issues of race and the disenfranchisement of black bodies are not isolated to any one area, but a product of the legacy of slavery. We will explore how these issues are ever-present for Black subjects in the Americas through various examples from Brazil, Central America, the U.S. and Maine. By examining archival materials and artistic works, students take part in a range of projects that show the multifaceted nature of land rights for the Afro-Americas. Boundaries and Margins humanities lab. Prerequisite: A 200-level Spanish literature, culture, or film course.