I took the online intensive version of this class, but Professor Widney Brown planned it out and executed it so well that it didn't seem exhaustingly intensive. She is extremely intelligent, well-spoken, kind, understanding, and genuinely the best professor I've had at Columbia. She was new to being a sole professor, but she was very composed and organized. She has an insane amount of experience and pays careful and deliberate attention to the words that she uses, such as refusing to call incarcerated peoples "criminals" because "no one should be reduced to the worst thing they've done in the lowest point in their life." The final paper that we wrote for the class was one on a topic of our own choice, and she made sure to individually meet with all 60 students to give feedback on our drafts and advice. She is a fair grader and is just... amazing. I cannot recommend any class that she teaches enough.
I really enjoyed this class. Widney is a radical, intelligent, and compassionate person who gives great feedback and facilitates really rich discussion. Widney made sure that the discussion was respectful of all people while challenging us to discuss uncomfortable topics. She helped me to redefine the concept of human rights as I understood it and she has an adorable dog.
(I took intensive and remote 2020) I would definitely recommend this class! Lots of discussion on a variety of topics, Professor Brown always has fascinating anecdotes and is extremely empathetic, and the class was broken up well into lectures, discussion, and break. The final paper worth 50% of the grade was stressful, but she gave opportunities for feedback and discussion so it wasn't that bad.
Widney: Very effective at getting the main points of each class across while being very flexible/letting the conversation flow in a generally very informative manner. More specifically: One of my favorite humans. Experienced, knowledgeable, concise (but not overly so), engaging, genuine. Radical. Ideal Barnard professor (can we keep her?) Marianne: Also very engaging and always brought an interesting/valuable perspective to each topic. She especially shared about her professional experiences which made this class a fantastic opportunity for us. Course: This course was exposure to two very broad topics that I knew little to nothing about. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone/everyone. A considerable amount of time was spent giving brief overviews of how things work in the fields of Human Rights and Public Health, but this was confined to the first few classes. The remainder of the course was deep diving into essential topics such as reproductive health, torture, advocacy etc. This structure was fantastic for anyone who has never taken a human rights course but wants to skip to the fun part (as opposed to starting with intro courses). Also, both professors seemed to place high value on providing feedback, when it was requested. That being said, the assignment prompts were vague and there was little guidance regarding the expectations for our structure/focus/writing. This was frustrating for the midterm, which felt like taking a shot in the dark and for some, being unsuccessful. Overall, though, a very fulfilling/eye opening/unique experience.