International Teaching


Undergraduates from all over the world are getting a taste of what it's like to be an MCLA student this summer as political science and public policy professor Petra Hejnova teaches a course on "Human Rights and International Security" in Rome, Italy.

She is teaching the course at the 13th Annual Global Leadership Program, run through Leadership exCHANGE, an American non-profit organization, in partnership with Charles University in Prague, in the Czech Republic. Her students include those from Australia, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Panama and the United States.

Hejnova has found that, whether she's teaching students at MCLA or from other countries throughout the world, they all have similar concerns.

"Ultimately, they would like interesting jobs that will allow them to advance causes they are passionate about," she said. "In the classroom, whether here in Rome or back in North Adams, we spend time exploring the ways in which globalization will affect our lives and also the ways in which we can affect some of the new global challenges."

Hejnova and her students in Rome are exploring the relationship between human rights and international security-both the ways in which the two work in concert and in conflict.

The course - which Hejnova will adapt as a full semester course for MCLA students as a complement to other classes she teaches - explores the relationship between human rights and: conflict resolution, failed states, state-building, humanitarian intervention, and the globalization of human rights and security. Case studies include examinations on Israel-Palestine, Haiti, Somalia and Libya.

Hejnova said the intensive, three-credit course, which runs for two weeks, covers some very timely themes regarding globalization.

"The main topic of the course is about 'Human Security,' a term that has been around for about 15 years now," she explained. "It basically says that people should be moving away from the idea that international security is about states, and more about individuals. People in different parts of the world are dealing with things from poverty to land mines. The war may be gone, but it doesn't mean it's gone for the people that are living in this area."

Students in the Leadership exCHANGE course are with Hejnova all day. They attend a class lecture each morning. Afternoons include sessions with guest speakers, viewing documentary films for the case studies they are examining, as well as educational activities like a visit to the Mexican Embassy in Rome. 

At MCLA, Hejnova's classes include those such as "International Relations," "Globalization" and others on "Comparative Government." For more information about the College's bachelor's degree program in political science and public policy, go to majors/publicpolicy/.