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Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

ROST 390: Human Rights - The View from Rome

ROST 390: Spring Semester 2013

Human Rights: The View from Rome


Instructor:                  James Stapleton

Monday:                     3-5.30pm

Office Hours:              Monday – by appointment




Theory, actuality and application of select human rights issues in the Mediterranean region as viewed from the perspective of Rome. This course includes 24 hours of required practical engagement with the local community.




There are three primary themes to this class:


A primary theme of the course is an analysis of various contemporary philosophies pertaining to moral development. In essence, a driving question will be for each student to develop his or her own perspective on what constitutes a moral society in a post-modern world.


A second theme is to gain a basic level of understanding of current pressing social problems facing Italy. Italy is situated in a geographic and political nexus where debates converge from across the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Balkans and North Africa. A few of the topics to be addressed by guest lecturers will be: the role of Islam in Europe, the reception of migrants and refugees, and racism encountered by many migrants upon arrival into Europe.


A third and central theme is for students to understand their service work on a personal level. In the Jesuit tradition of working to morally educate the whole person, class sessions will incorporate readings and creative methods from a range of religious traditions and academic disciplines allowing students to reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, and personal worldview. Sessions will include a reflective exercise and requires that students fully participate. This is not a class in which one can sit and solely listen; active participation is expected. A reoccurring question throughout this course is how one can gain from his/her service experience in order to grow as an individual. As a result of one’s service work and the reflection work (i.e. readings, class exercises, and journal work) it is envisioned that each student will become more effective change agents in the long term. At a minimum, an expected outcome is that each student’s moral values be challenged as a result of his/her service work in Rome.


Course Structure:


The course will include lectures, class discussions and student presentations. Films, acquired from a variety of sources, will enhance the readings in the course. There will frequently be three components to class discussions.


  1. A brief introduction to the key moral philosophers/ human rights academics which will provide the backdrop to class discussion.
  2. An analysis on a current political or social issue impacting the Mediterranean region, sometimes including a presentation by a guest speaker.
  3. Following a short break, the final part of class will comprise a reflective session in which students analyse their work in the community.


Each student will be placed with a Rome based non-governmental Organisation (NGO) which is the equivalent of a non-profit agency in the United States.


Course Expectations:




  1. Acquisition of contemporary moral philosophy/ academic writers on human rights
  2. A review of current social issues within Italy and the Mediterranean region
  3. Self-reflection anchored in one’s experience while serving in the community


Theme 1:


Contemporary moral philosophy


Theme 2:

Review of contemporary social issues within Italy and the European Union, with particular attention to the Mediterranean region.


Theme 3:

Self-reflection anchored in one’s experience from serving in the community.





Week 1: 14 January

Topic: class description and early concepts of human rights




Reading to be discussed in class:


Additional optional audio-visual material


Week 2: 21 January


Topic: Introduction to universal human rights


Audio-visual material


Additional optional audio-visual material



Reading to be discussed in class:


Week 3: 28 January

Journal Entry #1 due via email before noon today


Topic: Migration: flight to fortress Europe





Additional optional audio-visual material



Reading to be discussed in class:



Week 4: 4 February


Journal Entry #2 due via email before noon today


Topic: Migrants and refugees, who are our new neighbours?


Guest Speaker: Chiara Peri, Centro Astalli (Jesuit Refugee Service in Italy)




Readings to be discussed in class:



Week 5: 11 February



Topic: Racism and xenophobia

(Time will also be set aside during this class for an in-depth review of service sites)



Additional optional audio-visual material


Readings to be discussed in class:




Week 6: 18 February


Journal Entry #3 due via email before noon today


Topic: Rom and Roma (“Rom” is the correct terminology for gypsies)


Guest speaker: to be confirmed




Additional optional audio-visual material


Readings to be discussed in class:



Please Note:    Time will be devoted during this class period for reviewing the criteria for final assignments.


Week 7: 25 February


Topic: Europe and Islam


Guest Speaker: to be confirmed




Additional optional audio-visual material


Readings to be discussed in class:


Please note: All paper topics are to be confirmed by this date. A two paragraph description is due at the start of class.


4 March Spring break, no class


Week 8: 11 March


Journal Entry #4 due via email before noon today


Topic: Moral Development; what makes for a ‘civil’ society?




Readings to be discussed in class:


Week 9: 15 March


Topic: Models of Social Action




Reading to be discussed in class:



Week 10: 18 March


Journal Entry #5 due via email before noon today


Topic: Religion and Social Change


Guest speaker: Dr Janet Fine, Director School of Education Rome Programs, Loyola University Chicago




Week 11: 25 March


Field visit: Roma family living in a temporary site


Week 12: 8 April


Topic: Glocal Movements


Guest Speaker:

Cristina Mattiello, local human rights activist




Reading to be discussed in Class:



Week 13: 15 April


Journal Entry #6 due via email before noon today


All final papers are due


Final Paper: individual presentations


Week 13: April (date to be decided)


Field visit to a Roma family living in a temporary site



A. Class Participation 50 points

B. Three exams 60 points

B. Community Service 100 points

C. Journal Entry / Collected weekly via email 90 points (15 points per journal entry)

D. Final Paper & Presentation: 200 points


Students may choose between a social justice topic, a client narrative, or one’s moral autobiography.


500 total points (2x)


A  = 957 up

A- = 914 up

B+ = 871 up

B  = 828 up

B- = 785 up

C+ = 742 up

C  = 699 up

C- = 656 up

D+ = 613 up



A. Class Participation:  50 points

Attendance will be taken every class period. Students are expected to attend all class periods. Those who arrive more than ten minutes late will not be counted for the day.


B. Three exams:  60 points

The exams will be given during the course of the Semester. The days in which the exams will be given will not be announced in advance. All are expected to come to class having read the material for the week and be willing to discuss the content. Each exam will ask a few simple questions related to the day’s readings. Those who have come to class having pre-read the day’s readings will have no problems answering the questions.


C. Community Service Placement Site: 100 Points
Students choose a nonprofit (non-governmental) organisation that is working on issues of social change. They will spend 24 – 30 hours at the site during the semester. They will plug into this agency as a volunteer. Students will get to know the agency’s work, mission, etc.


Service Sites: (see class reader for details)

Missionaries of Charity, Sant’Egidio Soup Kitchen, International Youth Action for Peace

Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, Jesuit Refugee Service Rome Outreach Center, etc.


During class periods, students may be asked to discuss their service learning experiences. Typically, students will be asked to describe their specific on-site activities and relate their experiences to the topic being discussed in class. Students are expected to participate in those discussions.


While volunteering at a local service organization, students will be expected to act in a responsible manner. Each student must keep scheduled work hours and complete assigned duties. Students also are expected to maintain good working relationships with supervisors and peers. Conduct that is deemed unacceptable to the agency supervisor may result in the student being dismissed from that placement and from the course. In the unlikely event a student were to not be present at his/her agency on a particular week it is mandatory that he/she send an email or place a phone call to the agency describing the purpose of one’s absence. Students will not be excused due to individual travel needs. Failure to appear due to an illness will require a note from the campus doctor. Failure to appear at your site during your assigned time reflects poorly on the entire Loyola community.


D. Journal Entry: 90 Points

Students will write fortnightly journals on this experience (15 points each). Each journal will be prompted by a question or statement from the class curriculum and will touch upon at least one of the following topics:


Journals must be submitted via email and may be brief. Each journal entry must be a minimum of 200 words and no longer than 800 words. Please submit your journal no later than NOON on the day which it is due. Send your journal entry to Professor Stapleton. Any journal received past the noon deadline will automatically be marked down by 50%.


E. Topical Paper, Oral Histories or one’s Moral Autobiography: (200 Points)

A student may choose one of three options for his / her final paper. Option one is to develop a social justice topic area which has been discussed in class. Students are free to choose a topic (to be approved by Professor Stapleton) examples might include: Rom lifestyles, immigration, the future of Islam in Europe, human rights and recent immigrants, charity versus justice models of change, the status of the no global movement, racism in Italy, etc. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list.


A second option exist allowing students to interview individuals they have spent time with during the course of their service work. The interviews are to capture the oral histories of immigrants in Italy. The final paper will require that the oral histories are augmented by at least five sources other than readings from class. In essence the interviews cannot stand alone; each oral narrative will need background information to place the story in a broader context in relation to topics that had been reviewed in class.


Finally, students will be given a third option which is to write a “Moral Autobiography.” Guidelines will be provided explaining how this process will unfold. It is recommended that the Moral Autobiography contains background information on one’s family, education, etc – dimensions of difference. The body of the paper will explore how one’s life might change or deepen based on the teachings of a particular contemporary philosopher or spiritual teacher. The final aspect of your Moral Autobiography needs to articulate your vision. Due to the confidential nature of your story the actual classroom presentation may be slightly abbreviated and will most likely not reflect the final paper to be submitted for your grade. Once again, the writing must be grounded in academic sources from the classroom readings, discussions and elsewhere.


On 20 February, an outline will be provided offering guidance on the format for the final paper. All topics for final papers must be approved no later than Monday, 27 February. Final papers are due 16 April. Each student will be required to deliver a 15 minute presentation on his/her topic on 16 April, and possibly another day that week. All papers must use primary and secondary sources. Wikipedia is NOT considered a source but may be useful for directing you towards primary and secondary sources.


The final paper must be 3000 words in length (no longer than 3100 or shorter than 2900). It is essential that all quotes in the text are referenced properly, using an established style of referencing (e.g. Harvard style, APA style – see the “Referencing Style” information in the final pages of your course reader).



[1] As new texts are published or come to the attention of the lecturer, they may replace older or less relevant material. Nevertheless, the overall thrust of the course will remain the same.


John Felice Rome Center · Sullivan Center for Student Services· 6339 N. Sheridan Rd., Chicago, IL 60660
Mailing Address: 1032 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660
800.344.ROMA · rome@luc.edu

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