D.C. Human Rights Seminar


UW Bothell September 9th & 10th from 8:00am-5:00pm (In-person On-Campus Meeting on 9th)
Intensive Seminars & Briefings via Zoom: September 13th-17th

The Capitol Building in Washington D C

The Washington, D.C. Human Rights Seminar (BIS 403) is a part of the human rights emphasis in the Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences program and will be taught as an online research seminar for the academic year 2021. The course has been a part of the curriculum since 1991 and focuses on the construction of human rights policy at the national and international levels, with a particular emphasis on engaging with the policy-making process in Washington, D.C. Students spend a week in the U.S. Capital, meeting with legislators, federal agencies (such as the Department of Defense and the Department of State), human rights NGOs, foreign embassies, and think tanks to investigate human rights violations and possible policy responses. The course will study United States human rights policy, its formation, articulation, and effects on countries and peoples around the world.  Our approach will be interdisciplinary with an emphasis on how power is produced, distributed, and consumed within the policy process.  Attention will also be given to the philosophical, historical, cultural, and economic aspects of human rights and the human rights movement in the modern era.  The course will promote the analytical skills associated with original research in the policy process. This course also satisfies the Interdisciplinary Practice and Reflection (IPR) requirement.


Camille Walsh is an associate professor in the School of IAS, teaching across Law, Economics and Public Policy, American and Ethnic Studies, and the Masters in Policy Studies programs. She teaches courses on International Human Rights Law, and co-teaches a study abroad program on “Gender, Culture and Human Rights” in India with Professor Alka Kurian.  Her research focuses on racial segregation, economic disparities and the history of education policy and law in the U.S. She holds a BA from NYU, a JD from Harvard Law School, and an MA and PhD in U.S. History from the University of Oregon. Professor Walsh is also an affiliate faculty member of the UW Center for Human Rights, and she has been teaching in the Washington DC program since 2012.


  1. Meet & Greet on May 25th
  2. Reading in August and early September.
  3. Mandatory two full-day workshops: Sep. 9th & 10th from 8am to 5pm.  (In-person On-Campus Meeting on 9th)
  4. Five extensive days of seminars and briefings via Zoom.: Sep. 13th-17th.
  5. A policy research paper is due in early December (tbd).
  6. The presentation of your research to UW Bothell community in a poster session (tbd).


Date Event

May 16th (Extended)

Application Due (Online)

 May 19th

Final Selection of Participants Notified

May 25th

Meet & Greet: 5:30pm-7:30pm

Sept. 9th & 10th

Mandatory two Full-day Workshop: 8:00am to 5:00pm 
((in-person on-campus meeting on 9th)

Sept. 13th-17th

Seminars & Briefings via Zoom
(Participants must be available for the whole week.
Meetings may start at 7am to accommodate guest speakers from D.C.,
and the debriefing may end at 6pm or later)

Dec. TBD

Policy Research Paper Due

Dec. TBD

Poster Session & Human Rights Day Celebration

Candles in a ring of barbed wire, symbol of human rights and hopeCOURSE THEME

Human rights have emerged in the last 60 years as a critical normative dimension of international politics and policy. This course will examine the underlying philosophical, political, and social assumptions of human rights, especially in the context of public policy in U.S. institutions.  Students will engage questions such as the following: What is the relation between international human rights and domestic U.S. rights? Who are the main actors—governmental, non-governmental—who set human rights policy? What are the current issues that challenge the human rights agenda in U.S. domestic and foreign policy?  


During the trip students will be staying at the University of California Washington Center. During their time in D.C. Students will be engaged in intensive seminars and briefings with a variety of institutions and policy makers at a variety of levels. During the day we’ll walk and use Washington’s excellent subway system to visit the Pentagon, the State Department, Congressional offices, and policy institutions of various political orientations. For example, we’ll attend briefings at institutions such as the Friends Committee on National Legislation (the “Quaker Lobby”), Amnesty International, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, the United Nations, the Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institution, and hear from a long and distinguished list of lobbyists and activists. The week is an intense group experience and students will need to be ready to focus and engage for the entire time. There will be very little spare time for sightseeing; it is strongly recommended that students who wish to do so extend their stay in the city. 

"Going on the Washington, D.C. Human Rights Seminar completely changed me. Having the opportunity to meet with many different government officials to talk about current issues affecting the United States as well as other countries is something I will never forget. We also had the opportunity to meet with a number of nonprofit human rights agencies to learn about their perspectives and work being done. This experience led me to look at myself as a citizen in the United States, as well as my county as a whole, in a completely different way and has made me more passionate about public policy. I would do this program again in heart beat if given the option because this is truly one of those experiences you walk away from as a completely different person." -Heidi Hannah ('16, Global Studies)

Read D.C. Seminar alumni stories
Washington D.C. subway


  1. BIS 403 Course Application

Please contact Jung Lee (junglee5@uw.edu) with any questions.