The City College of New York

The series of lectures, conversations, film showings, exhibitions, and courses brings together faculty, students, and staff at CCNY and the New York City community to examine human rights through multiple lenses.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013
6:30 p.m.
The City College of New York,
North Academic Complex (NAC) Ballroom
137th, between Amsterdam and Broadway

Take 1 trains to 137th Street and walk up 137th Street, the NAC is the modern building on the hill after crossing Amsterdam; or, A, C, B, D to 145th and walk south on Convent Avenue, the NAC is the modern building on the right as you walk down Convent Avenue

“What Do We Mean by Human Rights? An Historian’s Perspective,” a talk by Eric D. Weitz, Dean of Humanities and Arts and Professor of History, The City College of New York, City University of New York, followed by Dean Weitz in conversation with Joel H. Rosenthal, President of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

“Human Rights” is one of those terms that nearly everyone claims to support. We all think that we have a good understanding of what it means, things like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and so on. In this lecture, Weitz will trace the development of human rights from the late eighteenth century to the present. He will focus especially on “self-determination” and depict how it evolved from a concept of individual emancipation to the favored slogan of national liberation and, ultimately, became inscribed as a human right. Self-determination’s history reveals the complexity of human rights, the often tension-laden relationship between individual and collective rights.


Eric D. Weitz is Dean of Humanities and Arts and Professor of History at The City College of New York. He was previously on the faculty of the University of Minnesota, where he was Distinguished McKnight University Professor of History and the Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair in the College of Liberal Arts. Trained in modern European and German history, his work in recent years has extended to the history and politics of international human rights and crimes against humanity. He received his Ph.D. from Boston University in 1983. Weitz has been the recipient of many fellowships and awards from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Council for Soviet and East European Research, and the American Council of Learned Societies, among others.  His major publications include Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy (2007; second expanded edition 2013), A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation (2003), and Creating German Communism, 1890-1990 (1997), all with Princeton University Press.  Weimar Germany was named an "Editor's Choice" by The New York Times Book Review, and was included in the "Year in Books" of The Financial Times (London) and "The Best Books of 2007" of The Independent (London).  It has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Polish, and Chinese. In 2006 Weitz initiated a book series with Princeton University Press, Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity. He is currently writing, A World Divided: A Global History of Nations and Human Rights from the Age of Revolution to the Present.


Joel H. Rosenthal has served as president of Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs since 1995. He is also adjunct professor, New York University and chairman of the Bard College Globalization and International Affairs (BGIA) program in New York City. During his tenure as president, the Council has developed its Carnegie Ethics Studio, producing multimedia programs for television, radio, and web audiences worldwide. The Council has also established its Global Ethics Network of Fellows located in two dozen countries in Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, and the Middle East. The Council’s national and international outreach is led by television broadcasts on MHz Networks (with access to over 42 million households), C-Span Book TV, and CUNY TV (reaching the entire New York City metro area). The Council’s flagship publication, Ethics & International Affairs journal, is published by Cambridge University Press. Its articles have appeared over 1,100 times in hundreds of university syllabi in 28 countries. As a scholar and teacher, Rosenthal has focused on ethics in U.S. foreign policy, with special emphasis on issues of war and peace, human rights, and pluralism. His first book, Righteous Realists (1991), is a study of Hans Morgenthau, George Kennan, and Reinhold Niebuhr, among other American realists. His edited volume, Ethics & International Affairs: A Reader (Georgetown University Press; 3rd edition, co-edited by Christian Barry), is a compilation of essays from major figures in the field and is widely used in college and university courses. Rosenthal’s recent writing is a series of reflections on the moral dimensions of globalization, including essays on patriotism, the "global ethic," and the role of religion in democratic societies. Rosenthal received his Ph.D. from Yale University and B.A. from Harvard University. In addition to his ongoing teaching duties, he lectures frequently at universities and public venues across the United States and around the world.

160 Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10031 - P: 212.650.7000
© The City College of New York - All rights reserved