What are Cornerstones and Capstones?
In order to complete a major in Human Rights, students must — in addition to both first-year Gateway units — complete at least one second-year Cornerstone Unit, and at least one third-year Capstone Unit. (The general requirements for completing a major or minor sequence in Human Rights are spelled out fully here.) The scheduling of Cornerstone and Capstone units throughout the year aims to ensure that students who need to pick up one of these units in any particular semester, in order to round out their requirements for completing the major, are able to do so. Cornerstone and Capstone units build on the core knowledge that’s conveyed in the Gateway Units, delving deeper into the philosophical, political, and historical details of the topics they’re examining.
Cornerstones: The Ethics of Global Conflict and Genocide
The first Cornerstone unit is The Ethics of Global Conflict (unit code: ATS2640). This unit runs most semesters either in on-campus mode or distance learning mode. It examines the question of when, if ever, armed conflict is justified, looking at conventional war between states, armed humanitarian intervention, civil wars, and terrorism. It introduces contemporary theoretical approaches used in addressing these questions, with a focus on the tools of moral and political philosophy.
The second Cornerstone unit is Genocide (unit code: ATS2057), which in most years will run in second semester. This unit asks why genocidal violence occurs, why people participate in it, and how it may be prevented. It focuses on case studies in Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur, and the elimination of indigenous populations in Australia and the Americas.
Capstones: Democratic Theory and Poverty, Climate Change, and International Justice
The first Capstone unit is Democratic Theory (unit code: ATS3905), which in most years runs in first semester. This unit asks what exactly the ideal of “rule by the people” really consists in, and it examines some of the major difficulties that are involved in realising this ideal in large-scale modern societies, characterised by institutional complexity, multiculturalism, and globalisation.
The second Capstone unit is Poverty, Climate Change, and International Justice (unit code: ATS3639), which in most years runs in second semester. This unit considers what justice demands of wealthy individuals and nations in response to poverty, natural disasters, and climate change, and what the roles are of national boundaries and international organisations in addressing these problems.