BIS 403

Washington D.C. Human Rights Research Seminar


The Capitol Building



UW Bothell September 4 & 5  from 8:30am-4:30pm
Washington D.C. September 7 -13


The Washington, D.C. Human Rights Seminar (BIS 403) is part of the human  rights emphasis in the Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences program and will be taught as a research seminar for the academic year 2014-2015. The course has been a part of the curriculum since 1990 and focuses on the construction of human rights policy at the national and international levels. It counts as a Tier 1 course for the Human Rights Minor.


  1. Reading in August and early September.

  2. Two full-day workshops on campus (Sept. 4 & 5 from 8:30-4:30 pm).

  3. Six intensive days of seminars and briefings in Washington, D.C. (Sept. 7-13).

  4.  A policy research paper that is due in early December.

  5. The presentation of your work to the UW Bothell Community in a poster session.

    *If you are taking the course as a Senior Seminar you must complete your IAS senior seminar portfolio, which will involve one class meeting during autumn quarter.



April 18

Applications Due

April 25

Final Selection of Participants

May 2

First $300 deposit due

May 30

Second $275 deposit due

Sept. 4-5

UW Bothell Campus


Sept. 7-13

Washington, D.C.

(7pm on the 7th, until 12:00 noon on the 13th)

Dec. 5

Policy Research Paper Due

Dec. TBA

Poster Session & Human Rights Celebration



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

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?  



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. 

THE CONFERENCE CENTER: Students in front of William Penn House

The William Penn House, 515 East Capitol Street, in Washington, D.C. is a Quaker hospitality and seminar center on Capitol Hill, in a residential area five blocks from the Capitol Building and Supreme Court. For over a quarter-century, the William Penn House has been a place where “frank, off-the-record discussions with men and women who have committed themselves to government service provide a first-hand encounter with the political scene. Questioning Congressional staff members and department officials on national commitments reveals both the complexity of decision making and the potential for citizen action.” Our lodging and most of our meals will be at the conference center, as well as most of our evening sessions. The accommodations and meals are basic but sufficient.   

COSTS:Washington D.C. subway

  • Room and board at conference center, program fees ($575)
  • Round trip airfare to D.C. (variable; students must arrange travel to D.C. on their own)
  • Texts and materials (approximately $100)
  • Tuition (variable--depends on number of credits for fall quarter)
  • Incidentals and extra day(s) in D.C. (variable; but estimated at $100, other transportation costs including Metro trains and taxis, when necessary ) 
  • Most forms of financial aid can be utilized during participation in the program.  Participants who are on financial aid should contact their campus Financial Aid Office to verify that their awards will apply. For more information about financial aid, read here.


Professor Bruce Kochis teaches human rights and policy studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences program at UWB.  He is past director of the University of Washington's Human Rights Education and Research Network. His research is on human rights in emerging democracies. Professor Kochis currently serves on the Steering Committee for the University of Washington Center for Human Rights.


To apply for the program, fill out the Application, and return to Leslie Schiffman (UW1-390). 




Apply Now

  BIS 403
Washington D.C.
Human Rights Seminar

Autumn 2014 Application
Applications deadline extended to
April 18, 2014