This course examined several large parts of the Geneva Conventions, tracking them from the First Geneva Convention in 1864 through their current application (most notably the treatment of prisoners of war under Common Article Three, which received a great deal of attention in the media because the George W. Bush administration argued that they did not apply to US prisoners at Guantanamo, while the Supreme Court disagreed).
The course looked at the historical context for each of the Conventions (post Battle of Solferino), post WWI, and post Vietnam. We spent a great deal of time deciphering the texts of the documents and trying to figure out why they were developed the way they were given the historical environment.
Then we studied an incident at Haditha, Iraq, in which US soldiers were prosecuted in a court martial proceeding for killing civilians in close combat. We also looked at the battle of Falujah, Iraq, which raised similar questions.
Students were asked to apply the Geneva Conventions (specifically those that govern the conduct of soldiers in combat) to several accounts of battles in the Iraq War, including Haditha, Fallujah, and several smaller incidents recounted in Generation Kill.
Students were asked to evaluate whether the actions of soldiers during those incidents violated the Geneva Conventions, and, if so, to write a short essay on whether or not they should be prosecuted
Students wrote a short essay on whether or not the US should join the International Criminal Court.
Research Paper on one of five offered topics, or design their own topic
Students chose one of five topics or designed their own, conducted research including interviews (often of veterans of the Iraq War), on the internet and in libraries.